One of the misconceptions about eating a vegetarian diet is that it automatically makes you healthy. This is only partly true. It probably makes you healthier than you were, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee good health. This was made very clear to me when I saw my weight creeping up during this past year. It was also brought home with a thud when a very good friend of mine who’s been a vegetarian for years was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Vegetarianism can make you much healthier because of what you do eat, but only in conjunction with what you do not eat. Too many of us still eat an unhealthy diet, despite the fact that we have cut meat and other animal products out of our lives.
According to some resources that I’ll include for you at the end of the post, here are the main reasons that many vegetarians are still eating an unhealthy diet. Read through them and see if perhaps you need a vegetarian diet makeover.
Eating Too Many Processed Foods
A diet high in processed foods has been shown to be a leading cause of nutrition-related diseases such as metabolic syndrome, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. This is because processed foods usually have little fiber, yet are high in saturated fats, trans fats, sodium and sugar. This was one of the things that I had to admit to when I did my research. I have a love of all things potato chip and my husband usually has a stack of french fries with his veggie burger. We’re in the process of reforming.
Eating Too Much Sugar
Non-vegetarians think that we vegetarians only reach for fruit when our sweet tooth starts nagging. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Many vegetarians have candy stashed in their desk drawer and a well-worn path to the vending machine.
Eating Too Many Empty Calories
Empty calories are calories from food and drink that provide no real nutrition. This includes most candies, sodas, coffee and unfortunately my beloved potato chips. Treats in moderation, even empty calorie treats, are the way to go. Have your favorites, but once in while rather than daily. Empty calories are usually high in fat and sugar and they add up quickly. Overweight is a leading cause of heart disease and diabetes. Cutting out most of the empty calories in your diet is good common sense. If you’re going to eat something loaded with calories, make sure it has some nutrition, too.
You can get some more excellent tips and read up on the latest research about unhealthy vegetarian diets at The Savvy Vegetarian and at The Mayo Clinic’s page on making sure your vegetarian diet is a healthy one.