I’m about two months in on this vegetarian thing (OK, ok pescatarian. We eat fish about twice a week.) and I’ve had no less than three questions about healthy eating in the past 24 hours. I’m flattered that people think I might know what I’m talking about!
So, a quick post over lunch about how it is going so far. At this point, I don’t really miss meat very much but it wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me. I have become far more aware of my protein intake. For one, I found out that I was eating way too much yogurt. So, instead of twice a day, which I didn’t do all the time but damn close, I eat it about once every other day. That I do kind of miss, but if you’re up to a twice a day serving of anything, you might have a problem. I’ve fallen in love with dried edamame. (In fact, maybe a little too much in love.) I have a wide selection of nuts and seeds I now eat. And I eat a lot more whole grains. I’ve also made it a mission to keep trying new vegetables. Greens are a challenge for me, at least ones not in a salad. Beans, no problems there. I used to not eat beans, but now I like them a lot. You kind of have to love them if you’re going to do this.
There are a couple of traps I’ve avoided, thanks to some good advice and that was to not load up on too much soy or cheese.
So that is how we’re doing. Last night, I finished off the bulgar salad (from the Kind Diet) and had half an almond butter sandwich, to get that protein in. Tonight, I’m making a polenta dish with lots of vegetables. It even includes cauliflower and asparagus, neither which are favorites but if I like it in a casserole, maybe I will actually enjoy them! Then I’m off on a trip. That is the toughest part right there. You go out to eat and 90% of the entrees have meat in them. You realize how meat-centric the American diet can be.
If you’re thinking of going down the vegetarian path, great. But do it for the right reasons. If you’re doing it to lose weight, rethink that one. You probably need to get a handle on your whole overall eating habits before you restrict them by leaving out meat. In fact, not eating meat and having to work at the protein thing means you might actually be HUNGRIER than if you eat meat.
I’ll leave you with the thoughts I sent to a friend who asked about our new diet.
1. Watch the dairy especially cheese. Cheese is a good source of protein but it’s also a saturated fat. So you do yourself no favors replacing lean meat with cheese.
2. Don’t be afraid of good fats. Olive oils, flax seed, anything like that. In moderation, of course, but lots of dieters (including ME) avoid fat like it’s the problem. It’s not necessarily the fat. It’s the sugar.
3. Build your meals around beans, grains, vegetables and fruit.
4. Fall in love with the bulk aisle at the grocery store. Ingles has a good one. Publix probably does too. Whole Foods for certain, of course.
5. And like I said, it’s very easy to be a vegetarian and still eat very badly. In fact, you kind of have to work to get the protein in. Very doable, but you do need the grains, the veggies and the beans to make it work.
Any other advice I should have included? Anything maybe I’m doing wrong? Thoughts?