5 Ways To Make Your Vegetarian Diet More Healthy
Just because you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet does not necessarily make your diet healthy. There are plenty of vegetarians who live on snacks, processed foods, simple carbohydrates, and high-fat foods.
After all, pizza, pasta, cheese, nachos, and beer are all vegetarian, but eating a diet full of these types of food is far from healthy.
If you are a vegetarian looking to make healthier choices, or you are considering transitioning to vegetarianism and want to do so with health in mind, here are some tips for ensuring that your vegetarian diet gives you the vitamins and minerals you need without filling you up with calories and fat you don’t.
1. Limit your carbs
Simple carbohydrates, like those found in pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, and sugar (think white foods) are all fine in small amounts but eating a diet high in these types of foods will have unhealthy consequences.
High intakes of simple carbs are likely to lead to weight gain and can cause raised blood sugar and increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Instead of thinking of these foods as the main dish of any meal, reduce portion sizes of simple carbs, so they comprise just small percentages of your meal.
2. Make vegetables the star of Vegetarian Diet
Instead of loading your plate down with pasta, pile it high with vegetables.
Eating lots of different types of vegetables at every meal will ensure you are getting the right amounts of important vitamins and minerals, that you are filling your stomach with healthy fiber from plants, and that your body is getting sufficient calories.
Use multiple cooking methods to prepare your vegetables to enhance vitamin absorption, and don’t forget to eat some of your food raw, too.
3. Stick to whole foods
Eating few or no processed foods is a great way to improve the overall quality of your diet, regardless of whether you eat meat or not.
Processed foods contain high amounts of sodium, added sugars, chemicals, and other unwanted ingredients that our bodies just don’t need.
Inserting whole foods in your vegetarian diet provide you with nutrition and energy without all the extra things you do not need.
If you are someone who loves to snack, switch from nutrition-poor foods like chips and crackers to more nutrient-dense ones like carrots and nut butter.
Eating tons of processed meat alternative products isn’t necessarily healthy, although these may help you make the transition to a vegetarian diet over time.
Be sure you read labels to understand what is in processed foods and weigh these ingredients against the rest of your diet carefully.
4. Try whole and ancient grains
Whole grains and ancient grains contain more nutrients than their modern, more processed counterparts.
Ancient grains include spelt, black rice, blue corn, black barley, teff, millet, quinoa, amaranth, sorghum, buckwheat, and wild rice.
Switching in your vegetarian diet from refined wheat products to these types of grains means you’ll enjoy more nutrients, higher levels of protein from grains, and more fiber.
Whole grain products like brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn, whole-wheat bread, and whole-grain pasta provide many of the same benefits with a small price tag and greater availability.
5. Getting variety from your vegetarian diet
Eating a vegan or vegetarian diet means you are eliminating many sources of food from your daily options automatically.
If you then continue to reduce your choices by eating the same foods consistently, you run the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies and possibly significant health problems.
Eating a variety of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, means you are more likely to get adequate nutrition your body needs.
Getting variety from your vegetarian diet will also ensure your taste buds remain happy, which is also vital for maintaining healthy habits.
Choosing to be vegetarian or vegan does not have to be difficult or boring. With so many tasty and healthy whole, plant-based foods available, your possibilities are endless.
But choosing a vegetarian diet doesn’t automatically equate to a healthy lifestyle if you continue to opt for refined and processed foods over healthier choices.
Think carefully about what you put into your body, and your body will reward you with excellent health.