Have you considered converting to vegetarian eating?
YOUR MOTHER WASN'T being a nag when she told
you to eat your vegetables. She was just teaching you well. Because
choosing a vegetarian eating plan-or simply incorporating more
vegetarian meals into your diet-is a healthy move.
"When you adopt a more plant-based diet, you're eating more of
the foods that are better for you and your body will work better,"
says Andrea N. Giancoli, MPH, R.D., an American Dietetic
Association spokeswoman. "Vegetarians also tend to have lower rates
of overweight and obesity."
Plus, a vegetarian diet can help protect against health issues
such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes,
certain types of cancer and even osteoporosis. According to
Giancoli, this is because plant-based foods provide plentiful
amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as beta
Where's the Beef?
If you're already eating a balanced diet that includes fruits,
vegetables and whole grains, the only significant change to make
your meals vegetarian is replacing meat with other forms of
Great choices include legumes-especially soybeans-nuts and whole
grains like quinoa, which is especially high in protein. If you
decide to say no to dairy products, milk and cheese made from soy
or nuts are excellent options.
Exploring New Flavors
Vegetarian eating can be easy, and may even promote more
creativity in the kitchen. For example, instead of the same-old
salad, Giancoli suggests making one with avocado, corn, beans,
basil and cilantro with a splash of rice vinegar.
Or how about a sandwich made with hummus, cheese and tomato on
whole-grain bread? For a super-quick dinner, Giancoli likes cooking
gnocchi pasta in butternut squash soup.
If you adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, make sure you're getting
enough calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D and iron. If you opt out of
dairy products, look for fortified foods or consider supplements.
If you're not eating any fish, use walnuts, almonds and flaxseed to
get the omega-3 fatty acids you need. Last but not least, ease
gradually into a vegetarian diet so your digestive system can
"Just venture in slowly," Giancoli suggests, while encouraging
healthy curiosity. "There are more vegetarian options available at
grocery stores today than ever before. Take some time to figure out
what you like best."
And just think how proud your mother will be when she sees all
the vegetables you're eating.
-By Amy Lynn Smith