Hello! I want to address some questions that I frequently get asked regarding my vegetarian journey.
Do you eat any meat at all? What type of vegetarian are you?
Technically speaking (giggles), I am following a Lacto-Ovo-pescatarian diet. That’s a mouthful, and that is why it’s just deemed “vegetarian” unless someone is being a bit more specific. This means that I am eating some dairy, eggs, and fish.
How long have you been a vegetarian?
It’s been a fairly slow and steady process over the last few years. I cut out red meat and pork a couple of years ago, and I decided to cut out all other forms of meat 13 months ago.
Do you ever want to eat meat? Have you had any slip-ups or “surprise” meat dishes?
I have had chicken probably a total of 5 times over the last year. This was by choice, and not necessarily because I had a “meat craving,” but because my body felt extremely fatigued, and I was having excessive bruising. This led me to believe that I was lacking in iron, and unfortunately, spinach, seeds, and lentils (typically good sources of iron), weren’t doing the trick. I found, however, I didn’t enjoy the texture or the flavor of chicken once re-introduced. I did have a huge craving for red meat just about a month ago. I actually planned on eating a Five Guys burger for my birthday when on vacation but ended up passing.
Why did you decide to try a vegetarian diet?
Studying nutrition and writing nutrition programs for others has led me to trying all kinds of different approaches to eating, whether it be what I’m eating, how much I’m eating, or meal timing. First hand experience allows me to learn directly how each approach works.
Do you think that a vegetarian diet would work well for everyone?
You have to ask yourself the most important question when it comes to determining if this lifestyle would work for you, “do you love vegetables?” I mean really. love. vegetables. If you would have asked me this question 7 or 8 years ago my answer would have been completely different than what it is now. Personally, yes, I love vegetables! Broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, eggplant, carrots, sprouts, asparagus, peppers, and the list goes on. All of it. I love all of it. I think people often get the misconception that vegetarians fill up on carbs in the forms of bread, fruits, and pasta. While yes, I do occasionally include these within my meals, people often take for granted that vegetables are carbs too.
What are your forms of protein? Do you find it hard to get in enough protein?
I mostly rely on eggs and fish, and I supplement with protein powder. I eat eggs almost every day, and I allow for salmon about three times a week. I eat a lot of rice and beans, which make for a complete, well-rounded protein. Many vegetables contain a lot of protein as well. If I were under the age of 30 I wouldn’t worry so much with adding in additional protein, but now that I am at an age where protein intake is extremely important, I typically have 1-2 protein shakes per day.
Do you find that you get bored with a vegetarian diet?
In fact, for me, it’s the complete opposite. I feel that my choices are endless; however, this leads back to the fact that I love vegetables.
Do you eat Tofu, veggie burgers, and imitation meat products?
I will occasionally eat Tofu if I order out, but I haven’t mastered cooking it myself quite yet. I recently saved some recipes on Pinterest for the air fryer, so fingers crossed I can find some tasty methods. I love Veggie Burgers! When I first transitioned into this way of eating, I did find myself eating frozen veggie patties, imitation chicken, and soy burgers all of the time; however, over the last few months, I try to limit the processed plant-based foods to one meal a day.
Is it hard to find vegetarian options when eating out?
Luckily, I live in Las Vegas where healthier options are available, compared to other locations across the map (for instance when I headed down south to Alabama). Dine-in restaurants sometimes offer some sort of vegetarian option, but I can almost always create a vegetable plate out of a menu’s side options. Unfortunately, fast food is where it gets tricky. A non-vegetarian diet is a bit easier for fast food. You can almost always find a grilled chicken sandwich on the menu, but a veggie burger isn’t usually an option. A lot of fast food joints offer salads, but more often than not, they are made up of Iceberg lettuce, and (if you’re lucky) will have a couple of grape tomatoes and a cucumber slice. Not my idea of a complete, well-balanced meal.
Is it hard to go to social gatherings that include eating or pot-lucks?
It can be, sure. I will usually take something that I feel everyone will like as well, but also something that I know I can depend on if there aren’t more options. You can almost always count on someone bringing a veggie tray or a fruit tray. Bottom line, this is a way of life that I have adopted and it works well for me. I am not the type of person that will put a damper on someone else’s plans because the menu doesn’t cater to my lifestyle. I really enjoy the foods that I eat. I feel satisfied, I feel adequately fueled, and I feel better than I have ever felt. Will I follow this approach to eating forever? I don’t know. It works well for me now and that’s what I have to go by.
Thanks for stopping in! If you have some banging veggie recipes, feel free to shoot them my way!
Good morning you all. I believe my last blog entry was an introduction to my interpretation of “wellness” a couple of weeks back. Today I want to address questions that I often get asked regarding flexible dieting versus a diet constructed of whole foods.
Take the picture below for example both options provide 500 calories. So if you look at it scientifically, no matter the food choice, 500 calories are 500 calories. A calorie is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius; therefore, no matter where the calories come from, a calorie is still a calorie.
So what does flexible dieting mean? Flexible dieting is just as its name depicts. As long as your macros (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) fit within the totals that are prescribed for your diet (whether it be for weight gain or weight loss), then you will yield results.
A diet that is constructed of whole foods means that the individual chooses foods that are non-processed and in their most natural state. The same goes for this approach, as long as your macros (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) fit within the totals that are prescribed for your diet (whether it be for weight gain or weight loss), then you will yield results.
So if both styles yield the same results when it comes to fat loss (or gain), then what is the best approach, or the correct approach to a strategic diet. I will share with you all my personal opinion of each approach and the reasoning behind my choices.
To begin, I want to address my thoughts on flexible dieting. Flexible dieting is an approach to eating that allows you to eat any food you want as long as you can fit it into your prescribed totals. I personally find that this approach works great for a variety of people: those that are new to dieting, those with an untrained palate, individuals that like to incorporate “treat meals,” and the list goes on. Most individuals are familiar with a typical American diet. Americans tend to consume a lot of high-sodium, high-fat, processed foods. If you take an individual such as this and remove all of the foods that they currently consume and replace them with broiled fish and broccoli, the chances of them sticking to this unfamiliarity is slim. If the individual can still consume their usual Tuesday evening Tyson chicken nuggets with the only change being to bake them in the oven and trade in the traditional ranch dipping sauce for a healthier yogurt-based dressing, they will be more apt to follow a plan.
How many times have you heard someone say, or have even said yourself, “I don’t like vegetables,” often followed with the admission of having never tried it, or haven’t tried it since the initial taste (years prior)? If I gave this person a menu constructed mainly of fibrous veggies, then he/she would probably do one of two things: one, he/she would totally skimp on the veggies all together not meeting their totals for the day, or second, he/she goes on a binger three days in because their body is craving everything it’s not allowing for.
I think for someone to dive headfirst into a new eating pattern and replace everything they are familiar with is a disaster waiting to happen. The flexible approach can be a great introduction to healthier eating patterns, not only for those new to calorie (macro) tracking but can be extremely beneficial for those that suffer from an unhealthy relationship with food.
What about the “whole foods” approach to nutrition? Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed, meaning they have no additives or preservatives. This menu consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Most often than not, you will find those who adhere to a whole foods approach are thoroughly interested in the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) of each food just as well. The idea of a whole foods diet is for improving health and preventing disease. Heavily processed foods are full of refined flours and processed sugars often replacing the numerous beneficial Photochemicals and Antioxidants.
You have heard “you are what you eat?” Well, if you aren’t getting enough micronutrients (those vitamins and minerals that prevent certain cancers), then what are you eating? Often the most recent fad-diet online is what people believe to be the truth, and unfortunately, this information is usually incorrect.
Here’s what it comes down to, and its pretty simple really. Everything in life is about balance. We are human and one of our primary pleasures in life is food. If you find yourself consuming more processed foods than whole foods, make certain that you are choosing options low in fat and fortified with essential nutrients. Also, try slowly implementing vegetables into your meals to familiarize (or introduce) your palate to new flavors. If you aren’t consuming 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day with two of those being greens, then it is wise to consider supplementing with a multi-vitamin (women over the age of 30 should consider adding an additional calcium supplement paired with Vitamin D).
A healthy diet is one that helps to maintain or improve overall health. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be seduced by the occasional piece of chocolate cake.
I get questioned regularly, “if I am going to drink alcohol, what is the healthiest choice and can I fit it into my macros?” Below I have tried to provide the easiest explanation of how to track alcohol into your macros.
HOW TO TRACK ALCOHOL INTO YOUR MACROS
Doing the Math
When it comes to calories, alcohol has 7 calories per 1 gram. This is very dense especially compared to the main macronutrients:
1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 9 calories
1 gram of pure alcohol = 7 calories
Alcohol is tracked as carbs or fats.
To track as carb: Take the total amount of calories in your alcoholic beverage and divide by 4.
To track as fat: Take the total amount of calories in your alcoholic beverage and divide by 9.
Or split between the two.
Example: if a drink has 200 calories you could track as:
Carbs 200/4 = 50 grams of carbs
Fats 200/9= 22.2 grams of fat
Both 100/4= 25 grams of carbs
100/9= 11.1 grams of fats
Alcohol takes up a lot of Macros!! Most people think that choosing “lighter” choices (vodka, light beer), that it means a lower carb count, but “alcohol” calories turn to fat easier than carbs!!!
Below I have given an example of how to track a vodka and water in your macros:
• 2 oz of Vodka = 130 calories
• 130 calories/ 4 (calories in carbs) = the same as 32 carbs .
This means that if you want a vodka and water with dinner, then you must take away 32 carbs from your meal (which is equivalent to 5 oz of sweet potato).
Don’t get me wrong, we all love a night out, or a drink at home, but just be mindful and take each drink into consideration.