Being a vegetarian is often a choice people make for a more healthy and ethical lifestyle. Following a vegetarian diet can be nutritionally superior to the other way of eating.
Plants are full of nutrients, which protect our health. But there are several things to consider in a vegetarian diet and the most important, is the amount of nutrients you are getting from your diet.
Of course, a healthy diet has the same basis for everyone. With a well-balanced diet, you can improve your health and your waistline. The key to a healthy diet is the same whether you are vegetarian or not. It depends on your consumption of a variety of foods and the right amount to meet your calorie needs.
Vegetarian diets can meet all nutrient requirements, but they can also be optimal for your health. So, if you do decide to go vegetarian, remember that it could be the first step to a healthier lifestyle, but you won’t be healthier unless you eat properly.
Cutting meat from your diet can be a great first step in becoming healthier. But you still need to be careful with your diet. Pizza and fries are technically vegetarian, but as they lack in nutrients, they won’t be leading you down the path to a healthier diet. Here are some tips to ensure you will be getting a healthy vegetarian diet.
1. Use proteins properly
Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of ways for vegetarians to get enough protein. The protein in cooked beans is roughly equal to half the amount of meat. Soy and quinoa are both complete proteins containing essential amino acids in the right proportions.
If you eat a variety of plant-based protein sources throughout the day, you will get enough protein. Sources of protein are beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, milk (including soy milk and almond milk), soy, whole grains, and veggies. To both build and maintain your muscles you need at least a whole source of protein with each meal.
2. Get enough water
You might think that because you are eating plenty of fruit and vegetables that this can replace your water intake. Water is essential for any diet especially when you are looking for a healthy lifestyle. You can’t actually overdo your water consumption, even though most people don’t drink nearly enough.
If you want to get really healthy, start your day by drinking a large glass of water on an empty stomach. Always carry a water bottle with you wherever you go, and use a filter jug or a filter on your tap for your home. Water is especially important when adjusting to a new way of eating, as it will help curb any cravings you may experience.
3. Eat raw
It sounds a bit obvious, but sometimes you might be getting plenty of vegetables but nothing at all raw. You should eat at least one piece of fruit and a handful of raw vegetables every day. Some vegetarian diets contain a lot of cooked vegetables, and often we don’t always get fresh raw produce in our diets.
Raw fruit in the mornings, while your digestive system is still slow, is a great idea. Apples and grapefruit are great low sugar options in the mornings. You can always include some salad as a side dish with your meals, and celery carrots and apples are great snacks in the afternoon.
4. Reduce your refined sugar intake
Any kind of healthy diet should include a drastic reduction of sugars. Refined sugar causes an increase in blood sugar that could raise your risk of diabetes and other chronic problems. A large number of the foods we eat today contain refined sugar. Once you start cutting it out, you will be amazed at where you find it.
Start reading labels, and you will find fructose corn syrup and sugars everywhere, including in things that should be healthy. You can substitute sugar with healthier alternatives like dates, stevia, agave nectar and brown rice syrup.
5. Eat a dark green vegetable at least three times a week
Dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, or collard greens are nutritional powerhouses and are an excellent source of fiber, folate, and carotenoids. These vegetables also contain vitamins C and K and the minerals iron and calcium.
Also, dark green leafy vegetables act as antioxidants in the body. There are many ways to eat them, but they are also very tasty raw. You can incorporate them in green smoothies or add them to your salads.
6. Be aware of your Vitamin B12 levels
Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause anemia and nervous system damage. B12 is an exceptional vitamin, and it is required in smaller amounts than any other known vitamin. Ten micrograms of B12 spread over a day appears to supply as much as the body can use. B12 is found to some extent in soil and plants.
B12 can be found in specific foods, including spirulina, nori, tempeh, and barley grass, as suitable non-animal sources of B12. Most vegetarian diets get enough B12 to avoid anemia and nervous system damage, but many do not get enough to minimize the potential risk of heart disease or pregnancy complications.
Some foods like some soy products and some breakfast cereals are fortified with B12. If you are worried, you are not getting enough you can include nutritional yeast in your diet regularly, or take supplements.
7. Eat vegetables
It might sound silly pointing this out, but there are a lot of processed foods out there that are in the vegetarian category, and it doesn’t mean that they are healthy. Read the labels to see what is really inside.
It can be fun trying new vegetarian meats, but your diet should be based on vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Try and keep your carbohydrate intake under control. You should be eating a large variety of different vegetables.