Should I say common “missed steaks” vegetarians make?! With the recent Netflix plant –based documentary “What The Health” propelling so many into a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, it’s important to recognize 3 mistakes to avoid on a vegetarian diet.
1.) Assuming a food labeled “vegetarian” is healthy.
Frozen veggie burgers, nuggets and meat alternatives, are often highly processed, with a long list of artificial ingredients. A meat-derived food item can now be created into a non-meat variety which sometimes comes at the cost of nutrients. While these items are convenient, they aren’t necessarily any healthier than non-vegetarian processed foods. Other meat-free items such as veggie chips, granola bars and what I call “vending machine foods” are often high in calories, yet lacking the protein, fiber and nutrients necessary for a balanced meal.
2.) Eating too many refined carbohydrates.
When a vegetarian diet is not strategically planned, pasta, rice, bread, bagels, and crackers often make up the majority of meals. My suggestion is to first switch to whole grain and whole wheat alternatives. Then, create balanced meals using whole wheat /whole grains products together with plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, nuts, tofu, and tempeh.
3.) Using cheese as a replacement for meat.
Instead, replace with other plant based proteins rather than the saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol that can be found in cheeses. The key to a successful vegetarian diet is to plan out meals in advance to ensure no nutrient group is left behind (especially vitamin B12, iron and omega-3 fats!).
Are you interested in learning more about how convenient, nutritious and well-balanced a vegetarian diet can be for you? Visit me on Fridays starting October 20th in the Fitness Center. I look forward to meeting you there!
–Cassandra Golden MS, RD, LDN is our dietitian here at Bonita Bay! Cassandra is a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist in the state of Florida, with a Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science and a Masters Degree in Dietetics and Nutrition. Her approach to nutrition is to incorporate research-based recommendations and practical guidelines that can be followed long term.