How to Stay Balanced on a Vegetarian Diet
“You’ll never get enough protein.”
“You’ll be weak.”
“But – what do you eat?”
Vegetarians hear it all!
In Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach Training Program, we explore over 100 dietary theories, including the vegetarian diet. This continues to gain popularity and is even one of the biggest food trends happening in the food industry. People opt for this diet for many reasons – ethics, morals, the environment, taste preference, and health are just a few of the major motivations behind switching to a diet that excludes all meat, poultry, and fish.
A vegetarian diet is rich in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. Multiple studies have shown that switching to a plant-based diet can lower the risk of disease and improve cardiovascular health and general well-being.
When it comes to choosing what to eat, being vegetarian can sometimes be perceived as restrictive or limiting. But becoming vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite foods. Some of the most beloved healthy foods are vegetarian – think guacamole, nut butters, and chocolate!
Here are a few practices to stay balanced on a vegetarian diet:
Get your protein in.
There are lots of ways to approach a vegetarian diet. Many vegetarians typically still consume dairy products and/or eggs, which can be great sources of vitamins and protein, while some choose to avoid them. If you’re choosing to eat dairy, aim for options like Greek or Icelandic yogurt that don’t pack in sugar. Protein can also come in high doses from foods like lentils, quinoa, nuts, peas, tofu, tempeh, hemp seeds, and much more!
Include healthy fats.
The word fat scares people away, but there is no need to fear it! Incorporating healthy fats into your diet will help satiate your hunger and boost your health. Avocados, chia seeds, flax seeds, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil are all great examples of healthy fat sources, which are needed for our bodies to function best.
Watch out for processed foods.
It’s not uncommon to rely on things like processed vegetarian “meats” as well as processed foods like candy, chips, ice cream, and packaged energy bars when first transitioning to a vegetarian diet. While these foods may help make the transition easier, aim for the bulk of your diet to be whole foods – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. For a fun snack, you could even make your own sweet potato fries.
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