Nutritional Needs For Vegetarians


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A vegetarian diet is not necessarily healthy or less fattening. Simply eliminating meat does NOT mean you are healthier. Cutting out your meat consumption DOES have beneficial effects on your body. However, to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs, please follow these tips:

*Avoid junk food. Candy, cookies, cakes, fries, and cheesy pizzas make vegetarians fat, too! Also, many instant or pre-cooked vegetarian meals are very high in fat. (check food labels)

*Don’t fry with fat. If you must fry with fat use a fat-spray, or fry with soy sauce, lemon juice, water, or fruit juice.

*Make sure your daily diet includes a wide variety of foods. Why? Because no single plant food is as nutritious as meat. If you do not eat meat, you must find a variety of plant alternatives to provide the same healthy level of nutrition.

When you eliminate meat from your diet, your body will probably be nutrient-deficient in some areas. This can cause your body to become tired and sluggish.

Nutrients normally found in animal products that are not always found in a vegetarian diet include: iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc and protein. Below are vegetarian foods that contain these nutrients:

*Iron - Cashews, tomato juice, rice, tofu, lentils, and garbanzo beans (chick peas).

*Calcium - Dairy products, fortified soymilk, fortified orange juice, tofu, kale, and broccoli.

*Vitamin D - Fortified milk and soymilk, and fortified cereals (or a small amount of sunlight).

*Vitamin B12 - Eggs, dairy products, and fortified soymilk, cereals, tempeh, and miso. Tempeh and miso are foods made from soybeans. They are low in calories and fat and high in protein.

*Zinc - Whole grains (especially the germ and bran of the grain), eggs, dairy products, nuts, tofu, leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, cabbage), and root vegetables (onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, radishes).

*Protein - Vegetarians must eat a variety of plant foods over the course of a day to get enough protein. Plant foods that have the most protein are lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, tempeh, miso, and peas.

Get to know your local health-food store or health food section of your favorite grocery store. If you are not familiar with some of the above foods, get advice! Visit your local health-food store and ask them for advice on cooking and storage. Most stores are extremely helpful and offer all sorts of help.

Teach yourself about nutrition. Vegetarian eating is becoming much more common. Libraries and bookshops are full of leaflets and books about healthy eating for non-meat eaters. The Internet is a great source of information, too. Take advantage!

Consider vitamin and mineral supplements. A balanced vegetarian diet contains all the nutrition you need. However, if (for any reason) your diet is not balanced, or if you feel tired, ask your doctor whether supplements are appropriate for you.

Make sure you get enough exercise. Move your body! To burn calories, any kind of movement, whether it’s walking, climbing stairs, dancing, or mowing the lawn, will help enhance your body’s ability to burn fat and increase your metabolism. Increasing your metabolism will, in turn, help you lose weight faster.

Power walking, jogging, running, elliptical training, bicycling and swimming are all considered to be the most simple but most effective aerobic exercises that will put your body in fat-burning mode. These types of exercises that require continuous, smooth movements force your body to burn a higher percentage of calories from fat. Plus, your body will continue to burn calories for up to an hour after the activity stops.

Remember, simple daily aerobic exercise and a nutritious diet are the keys to maintaining a healthy, fat-burning body regardless of your age, your dietary lifestyle or your fitness level. Even if you can only devote 15 minutes a day to some kind of physical movement, it will benefit your body tremendously.

Chris Chenoweth, author of the DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME, HEALTH & MONEY GUIDE, writes articles pertaining to diet, exercise, health, and business.


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