SEVERE WX : Air Stagnation Advisory View Alerts

Rookie vegetarianism and the junk food trap

A variety of inspirations may spark a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle change, the most common being animal wel...

Posted: Aug 21, 2018 8:57 AM
Updated: Aug 21, 2018 8:57 AM

A variety of inspirations may spark a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle change, the most common being animal welfare, environmental welfare and personal health. But even if health isn't the reason, it's important to maintain good health within any diet. Why not enjoy the benefits of being a vegetarian, even if you're doing it for the cows and the trees?

Mortality in vegetarians, according to a meta-study from 2012, was 9% lower than in nonvegetarians. And according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a vegetarian diet lowers risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Consumer products

Diet and nutrition

Diet, nutrition and fitness

Food and drink

Food products

Food trends

Fruits and vegetables

Health and medical

Kinds of foods and beverages

Nutrition

Vegetables

Vegetarian and vegan diets

Weight loss diets

But simply being a vegetarian or vegan doesn't guarantee these results, because it's possible to abstain from meat or dairy and still live an unhealthy lifestyle. In fact, it can be quite common.

I was one of those unhealthy vegetarians who eliminated meat but replaced vegetables with all varieties of potatoes: French fries, chips, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, sweet potatoes. My fruits were "fruit snacks." My meat became chemically processed veggie meat.

Within a year, I began to struggle with severe anemia, ADHD and fatigue. I would break my vegetarianism and eat a chicken breast, a burger or salmon to feel better. Meat would solve the problem, but it also made me bloated and constipated and gave me headaches.

My "aha" moment came when I was driving through Georgia one fall day and saw cows grazing in a field. I laughed because the animals I ate were all vegetarians. One of the reasons we are able to get quality nutrients from cows, chickens and turkeys is because their diet consists of grass, grains, corn and fruits. I realized what my diet was missing.

"Many vegetarians and vegans make the mistake of eliminating but not correctly replacing," said Dr. Brandi Jouett-Patrickson, an internal medicine doctor with Piedmont Physicians Group.

Here are the most important ways to ensure that your vegetarian lifestyle doesn't start as poorly as mine did.

Eat the rainbow

The US Department of Agriculture recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal. This can be even more crucial for a vegetarian, given that meat often provides nutrients, particularly iron and vitamin B12.

"Each meal should have an array of fresh colors," Jouett-Patrickson said.

Eating green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale can help head off iron deficiency. Vegetarians can avoid B12 deficiency by eating dairy, but Jouett-Patrickson suggests that vegans use a B12 vitamin or fortified foods such as plant milks, soy products and some breakfast cereals.

Beware of processed food

Beginner vegetarians often eat a lot of processed foods, such as veggie meat, French fries, frozen pizza, instant oatmeal, instant ramen noodles, pastries. A recent study in the British Medical Journey suggests a link between highly processed foods and cancer.

One way to get a sense of how processed a particular food is to read the ingredients. If you see numerous preservatives, colorants and unfamiliar words, be wary. The general rule should be the simpler, the better.

"The food you eat should be as local as possible," CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. "That cuts down on the travel time and the number of points where food can be contaminated. It also means your food doesn't need as many preservatives to increase shelf life." Remember, fresh is always better.

More water

Dehydration is a lesser-known side effect in an unhealthy vegetarian lifestyle. When you eat a lot of processed food, you're reducing the hydration in your body.

"Hidden sources of salt lurk in most processed foods," according to the National Academy of Sciences' Food and Nutrition Board. When there's too much sodium in your diet, you retain water, your kidneys cannot properly filter it from your body, and you become dehydrated.

Your body is roughly 60% water, which is vital to cells, organs and certain body functions. Make sure to drink plenty of water and other fluids.

Be intentional

This new lifestyle is not for the lazy; you must work hard to maintain the journey. Be intentional about your meal prep and choices. You may want to invest in cookbooks or even meal prep services to get off to the right start. Social media, particularly Instagram, can provide a wealth of tips and encouragement when transitioning.

Most of all, don't give up. Remember, it's a journey, and you're learning how to make vegetarianism work best for you. Follow these guidelines to avoid the unhealthy vegetarianism path, but even if you stumble, dust off yourself -- and your vegetables -- and try again.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5105427

Reported Deaths: 74781
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153243027225
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 36°
Brookings
Mostly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 48°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 36°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 36°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 47°
Air stagnation ends for the Basin today, big changes coming next week
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events