B E C O M I N G V E G E T A R I A N:
Why You Should Do This
and How to Make the Transition
The bottom line
As with any diet, a vegetarian or near-vegetarian diet should be well-planned and balanced. Keep the intake of low-nutrient-dense foods, such as sweets, fried foods and highly-processed foods, to a minimum (or eliminate them altogether). Choose whole or unrefined grains instead of refined products whenever possible to meet energy needs. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables—at least 5-10 servings per day—including a good food source of vitamin C to enhance iron absorption. Meet your protein needs by eating a variety of legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu, and whole grains. And incorporate spirulina into your nutritional program for vitamin B-12, or use fortified food sources.
Will you enjoy the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle? Definitely! Have fun with it. Learn how your body works and how best to take care of it. Discover new, fun ways of cooking and eating. And most of all, you will be amazed at just how good you feel! Energy, vitality, youthfullness, plus, you will maintain a svelt, trim body line.
Some important principles:
A WORD ABOUT "ORGANIC" FOODS
Here's the deal. This world is no longer a perfect place to live. The air is tainted with noxious chemicals. The water is polluted with pesticides, fertilizer chemicals and run-off from agriculture and industry. And our food is no longer grown in soil that contains the nutrients that we require to live healthy lives. So, in this imperfect world we need to do the best we can to live healthy, vibrant lives. We can't wear gas masks to protect us from the air. But we can take measures in other areas to minimize the ill effects of the pollution around us. One of these measures is to eat only organically grown produce, where possible. Don't just throw up your hands and declare that there's nothing you can do, because there is. Organically grown foods will not be pesticide laiden, or derive their nutrients from chemical fertilizers. By choosing organic foods you are taking responsibility for your own health...you are making the effort to do your best.
HOW ABOUT THE WATER?
Our water supplies are a mess, let's face it. You can hardly go a day without reading an article about the terrible condition of the water. Of course, municiple water supplies are treated, to a certain extent, to minimize the effects of bacterial contamination. But these water treatment plants are using higher and higher amounts of chlorine to combat the problem, and chlorine is not something you want to be ingesting on a regular basis. Plus, chlorine only treats one of the many serious contaminants in the water.
What can you do? The bottom line--don't drink your tap water. Even if your water source is from a well, it is not immune to the pollution problems. Either purchase a water distiller or good reverse osmosis system for your home, or purchase distilled water from your grocery store. But by all means don't stop drinking good, pure water. Remember, water should be your main source of hydration (not sodas or juice drinks), and you want to get 8-10 glasses of water every day.
A GOOD RULE OF THUMB
In making the change from the "standard American diet" to a healthy, energy packed vegetarian lifestyle, you will also change the way you shop for groceries. Here are a few helpful pointers. First of all, spend most of your time shopping in the produce section of the store. Enjoy the beautiful variety of textures, smells and colors of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is where the real food is located--this is the garden. Next, avoid any packages of "food" that comes in a box. Why? Just read the ingredients label and you will see that these convenience "foods" are not really food at all, but are refined and processed former foods that are now mostly chemicals and additives. These pre-packaged instant meals in a box are void of any nutrients or dietary fibre, leading to a multitude of health issues. And thirdly, avoid foods that come in cans, as much as possible. When buying canned foods read the labels carefully. They usually contain high amounts of sodium (salt), sugars, flavor enhancers and preservatives. Fresh or frozen foods present a much better choice.
Applying the Food Pyramid to everyday life - next >>>