Vegetarian diets include vegan, lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian options. Regardless of your preference, a balanced vegetarian diet provides adequate nutrition and has health and weight maintenance benefits. The key to a healthful plant-based diet is proper planning. Plan your weekly menus to include a variety of foods from each food group.
Your weekly diet plan should include a variety of whole grains, lean proteins, calcium-rich foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables. If you prefer a lacto-vegetarian diet, choose reduced fat dairy varieties. Lacto-ovo-vegatarians should aim for one serving of eggs a day and consider egg whites over whole eggs to reduce fat and cholesterol intake. For healthy weight and good health, enjoy sweets in moderation.
Eating a vegetarian diet has health benefits, according to the American Heart Association. Typically, vegetarian diets contain less fat and cholesterol than non-vegetarian diets. Plant-based diets are also linked to reduced risk of coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, according to the American Heart Association. Choose minimally processed foods to reap the maximum benefits of healthful foods and to avoid unhealthful additives such as fat, sugar and sodium.
To achieve and maintain good health and a healthy weight, include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your weekly menus. Mainstays of a vegetarian diet are fruits and vegetables, which are filling and low in calories. Aim for at least one serving of nutrient-rich leafy green vegetables every day. The Loma Linda University School of Public Health recommends at least three servings of fruits and six servings of vegetables daily for a vegetarians.
Eat a healthful breakfast of fruit, whole grains and protein. For example, enjoy a serving of oatmeal with a banana and a serving of soy milk. Eat at least two servings of vegetables at lunch and dinner. Enjoy two different varieties rather than a double dose of the same vegetable. Pair a sweet potato with broccoli, for example, or try summer squash with okra. Include a lean protein such as garbanzo beans, pintos or lentils. Add a serving of whole grains to complete the meal. For snacks, enjoy fruits, whole grains, reduced fat dairy and fresh vegetables.
Plan your menu for the week and use it to make your shopping list. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables when in season. Frozen varieties without additives also make good choices. When buying canned varieties, watch for additives and choose fruits preserved in juice rather than syrup. Buy nuts without added fat and sodium. Look for reduced fat varieties of dairy and soy products. Include whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa and millet in your menu, as well.
- Fruit salad in hollow watermelon and fruits image by Elzbieta Sekowska from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.