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Veg Out with Vegetarianism: A Great Diet

If you’ve ever wondered about starting a healthy lifestyle, adhering to a vegetarian diet is a great way to start. A vegetarian is a person who abstains from eating any fish, meat, or poultry. Many vegetarians still eat dairy products and eggs. Although you may not want to cut out all meat from your diet, even incorporating some healthier food choices can make a difference. According to a Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, approximately six to eight million Americans adults abstain from eating fish, meat, and poultry (Harvard Health). Vegetarianism can often be confused with veganism, which is abstaining from eating fish, meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, gelatin, or any other animal byproduct.

Although vegetarianism can provide many health benefits, it is important to make sure that you keep your meals as balanced as possible. Sometimes many people who start a vegetarian lifestyle make the mistake of eating unhealthy foods, such as French fries or macaroni and cheese, which, although is technically vegetarian, is not nutritious. The best way to be healthier is to keep a diverse plate, as well as, incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Here are a few ways to be healthy while being a vegetarian:

  • Take your vitamins: It is important to make sure to talk to your doctor about what specific vitamins your body needs. One of the vitamins that vegetarians take that is recommended by his or her doctor is Vitamin B-12. B-12 is a vitamin that is found in animal products. However, you should speak to your physician as they will be able to test you to see if you need this vitamin in any way. Other vitamins to take are Vitamin D, Calcium, and Iron. Vitamin D is found in dairy products like calcium, but it is also found in fish. You may also miss out on your daily intake of iron as the iron in plant-based foods is not as absorbed as well as iron from animal sources (Livestrong).
  • Keep a diverse plate: Try to fill your plate with nuts, eggs, dairy products, legumes, seeds, lentils, seeds, and soy. Also try to get a daily dose of vegetables and fruits, such as leafy greens, peas, green beans, strawberries, bananas, oranges, or others. You can also get your calcium source from milk, or even almond, cashew, or soy milk. Talk to your physician about what your body would specifically benefit from.
  • Exercise: Diet alone does not keep a healthy lifestyle running. The best course of action a person can take is to supplement their diet with exercise. Even walking 30 minutes a day can be beneficial. Exercising can be a way to explore your interests and get better at a sport you like to play. Whether it is racquetball, tennis, basketball, or football, playing a sport can be a way to motivate you to keep your health in check. Strength training by lifting weights, or running or biking can also be great. However, you should consult your physician to see what your body can handle and how much exercise you need. You do not want to do anything to injure yourself, so talk to your doctor before starting a workout regime.

Whether you’re interested in pursuing a vegetarian lifestyle, or simply wish to learn more about having a healthier lifestyle, talk to your doctor. If you do not have a primary care doctor, please contact Utica Park Clinic at (918)579-DOCS or click here.