Shape Up Your Plate With Your Personal Dietary Style
One of the great things about food is the diversity and the options available. Folks can choose their favorite foods and their dietary preferences. People may make changes in their eating styles for a number of reasons-some may affect change to be consistent with the fad of the day, budget concerns, or to improve health. Research shows that most often dietary changes are made in the quest to improve health.
If you're considering a change to an all vegetable diet, the first step is to learn and understand the pros and cons of making the change. Read up on what it means to make the switch and be honest with yourself about the food or foods you'll find it most difficult to bypass. If you're considering the vegetarian lifestyle, explore the options that fall under the "vegetarian" umbrella.
Strict vegetarian or vegan: A vegetarian diet that excludes all animal products such as meat, poultry, fish/seafood, eggs, milk, cheese and other dairy products.
Lacto-vegetarian: A vegetarian diet that excludes meat, poultry, fish and eggs but includes dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Pesco-vegetarian: A vegetarian diet that excludes meat and poultry but includes fish and seafood.
Flexitarian: A semi-vegetarian diet with a focus on vegetarian food with occasional meat, poultry, or fish consumption.
In addition to the above dietary choices, Gluten-Free is also now a consideration. Traditionally gluten-free was the option for those affected by Celiac disease which is the digestive condition triggered by gluten protein, or for those with allergies to wheat. Today the gluten-free diet is the diet of choice for many who are simply choosing to avoid foods with gluten.
In choosing the vegetarian lifestyle, a key concern is the intake of the nutrients required to maintain good health. The following is a summary of the nutrient needs to consider in evaluating dietary choices:
Strict Vegetarian or Vegan
Excludes: Meat, poultry, fish/seafood, eggs, milk, cheese, dairy.
Nutrient Concerns: Iron, Zinc, Omega 3fatty acids, Protein, Calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Protein
Foods to Eat: Fortified cereals, soy milk, nuts, legumes, lentils, green leafy vegetables, fruits
Excludes: Meat, poultry, fish/seafood, eggs
Nutrient Concerns: Iron, Zinc, Omega 3 fatty acids, Protein
Foods to Eat: Lentils, legumes, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, leafy green vegetables, soybean and canola oil.
Excludes: Meat and poultry, but Includes fish and seafood.
Nutrient Concerns: Iron, Vitamin B-12, high levels of mercury
Foods to Eat: Include a variety of fish/seafood, along with dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
Semi-vegetarian, with occasional meat and poultry.
Nutrient Concerns: Vitamin B-12, Iron
Foods to Eat: Include a variety of foods, with high fiber options--whole grains, lentils, and legumes.
Excludes: Wheat, rye, barley and products made from them. May also include oats.
Nutrient Concerns: B Vitamins, Iron, Fiber
Foods to Eat: Amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum wild rice.
It's your choice select the dietary style that is right for you. If you're making the change to omit a food from your diet, I advise my patients to ease in to the change-it's like swimming (an excellent exercise choice) you have to start at the shallow end, before taking the dive into deep water.
Take-Away: If you're exploring an all veggie diet, know the facts and test it out for five to seven days to ensure that you are making the best choice that is a match for your lifestyle and personality.