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19 Nov

Veritable vegetarians:

Respect. But how healthy are your meals? Let’s have a look what the NHS says.

Starchy foods

Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and so on should form the basis for your meals. Not only do they contain starch and fibre, they also have calcium, iron and B vitamins.

There are even more health gains if you choose wholegrain options. They provide energy, nutrients and fibre to fill you and help process your digested food efficiently.

Five a day

Goes without saying, doesn’t it. Eat at least five 80gram portions of veggies a day for more essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.

They’re good in any format: fresh, tinned or frozen veggies and fruit, dried and juiced too. Choices include pulses, an important source of protein for people who don’t eat fish, meat or dairy.

Protein and calcium

Vegetarians can usually find sufficient protein and calcium in their food choices, such as:

·         Pulses (beans, peas and lentils)

·         Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk

·         Dairy alternatives such as fortified, unsweetened soya, rice and oat drinks

·         Non-dairy protein such as eggs, tofu and quorn

But don’t limit yourself. Eat a wide variety to make sure you get the right mixture of amino acids, which build and repair our cells.

And while you’re at it, choose lower fat and low-sugar options.

Iron

Vegetarians probably have lower iron stores than carnivores, so iron, and vitamin B12 need a certain amount of planning. Try these for iron, the first three of which overlap with your five a day and protein choices:

·         Eggs

·         Pulses

·         Dried fruit

·         Dark green veggies like watercress, broccoli and spring greens

·         Wholemeal bread

·         Cereals fortified with added iron.
Vitamin B12

It’s essential for our general health, growth and repair to eat sources of B12. But it’s only found in animal products. If you eat eggs, milk and cheese, you will probably get enough.

But if you avoid these, or eat little of them, be sure to incorporate fortified ingredients such as Marmite, breakfast cereals and fortified soya products.

Fats, salt and sugar

The same rules apply here as they do to the meat-eaters. Calories abound, healthy fats or not. So, beware.

Go for unsaturated fats. Choose rapeseed oil (for high temperature cooking) and olive oil (for salads), in preference to butter, lard and ghee.

Limit salt to no more than 6 grams a day, and keep sugar in check too. They provide flavour but not a lot in the way of nutrients.

Omega-3 fatty acids

These are the ones that can help keep our hearts healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease.

If you’re a fish eater, go for oily fish like salmon and mackerel, the smoked or cookable variety.

For non-fish eaters, eat eggs enriched with omega-3, walnuts, tofu and flaxseed (linseed), rapeseed and soya oil. Be aware, however, that evidence suggests the non-vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids may not be quite as beneficial to our hearts as those in oily fish.

And, vegetarian or not, everyone dieter needs a helping hand. This is where we come in, where our trained coaches provide friendly, weekly support groups to help you through the maze. So if you’re good to go, do get in touch. Because we like to help you lose your weight your way.

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