Publish 16 March 2021
The Vegetarian Lifestyle
October is Vegetarian Awareness Month
What adjectives come to mind when you hear the word vegetarian? Healthy? Fit? Slender? What if you find out that a vegetarian diet doesn’t give you the golden key to unlock all things healthy? Shocking revelation, isn’t it?
A study found that a vegetarian diet is almost twice as effective in reducing body weight as conventional low-calorie diets.  Vegetarians also enjoy a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers, and type-2 diabetes.
Here’s where the table turns. When eating the wrong foods, a vegetarian can have a higher risk of illness than an individual eating a well-balanced diet with meat and dairy. This is because vegetarians can have unhealthy indulgences.
When it comes to food sources, your health and wellbeing depend on what’s on your plate. This article reveals helpful tips on how you can succeed as a vegetarian without gaining unnecessary weight.
How To Avoid Being An Unhealthy Vegetarian
1. Eat a balanced diet. As a vegetarian, you must have adequate nutrition to safely maintain or lose weight. Fill your plate with fresh, wholesome, and nutrient-dense foods and limit your consumption of highly processed foods.
Manufacturers are promoting vegetarian- and vegan-friendly junk foods as safer and healthier alternatives to their non-vegan counterparts. Be extra careful when grocery shopping or eating out. Reach for fruits, vegetables, beans or legumes, unrefined whole grains, and nuts.
Remove the unhealthy carbohydrates from your diet, like cakes, white bread, cookies, and other baked foods made with white flour. Replace these with healthy carbs, like quinoa, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. Then, make yourself a smoothie to pamper your gut microflora and curb your cravings.
2. Enjoy the wide variety of foods available. An advantage of becoming a vegetarian is access to many fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, plant- and animal-based milk, and healthy fats and oils.
Enjoy a wide range of essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats (like avocado, nuts, and seeds), complex carbs (like sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa), and protein (like legumes, tempeh, and tofu). You can mix things up so that you never get bored of eating the same thing over and over again!
Dark leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium. Get iron from soybeans, lentils, and nuts. Also, you can derive vitamin B12 from fortified soy or nut milk and vitamin D from mushrooms or fortified soy milk.
3. Recreate new vegetarian-friendly recipes. Soon after becoming a vegetarian, you miss the meaty dishes and full-fat comfort foods. Recreate them with vegetarian-compliant ingredients. For example, if you are craving spaghetti bolognese, you can use whole-wheat pasta, zucchini, or shirataki noodles instead of regular spaghetti. Then, use lentils and shiitake mushrooms in place of minced meat. Doing this will keep your diet interesting and delicious.
4. Avoid unhealthy vegetarian-friendly snacks. Many protein bars are candy with nuts or protein powder. There is little distinction between fried veggie chips and potato chips.
Maintaining a healthy weight with adequate nutrition as a vegetarian is possible. To do so, eat whole, nutrient-dense foods. Limit consumption of highly processed or refined foods. And recreate the non-vegetarian foods you miss into healthier, vegetarian versions.
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Main photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels.
- Taylor & Francis. (2017, June 12). Vegetarian diets almost twice as effective in reducing body weight, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
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