An Unhealthy Vegetarian Lifestyle?

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The vegan lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular these days. A common reason people consider converting to a vegetarian or vegan diet is to lose weight, improve health, avoid contaminants in meat, and compassion for animals. However, it’s imperative to research the proper way to plan meatless meals to avoid serious nutritional deficiencies.

If you are considering a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you may want to start by reducing your meat intake and incorporating more meatless dishes into your weekly meal plans. Further research and experimentation can help you determine if a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is right for you.

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There can be some confusion regarding the terms vegan and vegetarian. Vegetarians eliminate meat but some include dairy products and eggs in their diets.

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Vegans, on the other hand, eliminate all animal products, dairy, eggs, and often avoid any products made from animals.

Global Healing Center explains the

Differences Between Vegan and Vegetarian

A vegetarian excludes meat, poultry, and seafood from their diet. Some vegetarians also exclude dairy, some don’t, and some may consume eggs. Likewise, vegans avoid meat, poultry, and seafood, but they also take it a step further by eliminating all animal products from their diet. This includes any type of animal milk and eggs. Vegans avoid foods produced using animals or animal products in any way, including honey. Many vegans also avoid household products, clothing, or other items made from animal products or tested on animals.

Additionally, the terms vegan and vegetarian can be difficult for many to differentiate as some people think the words have the same meaning.

To add to the confusion, some vegetarians are called “lacto and or ovo” and include dairy/eggs in their diet.

So as you can see, the term “vegetarian” can mean different things to different people:

  • A true vegetarian eats no meat at all, including poultry and fish.

  • A lacto-ovo vegetarian eats dairy products and eggs, but excludes meat, fish, and poultry.

  • A lacto vegetarian eats dairy products but not eggs.

  • An ovo vegetarian eats eggs but not dairy products.

Therefore, when considering converting to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle it’s imperative to do your research. Make sure you are clear on the differences between the diets and that you have a good understanding of what’s involved in the switch.  Making the change to a more restricted diet can be challenging to follow. Many restaurants don’t offer vegan options, so understand your choices for grabbing food on the go will be limited.  Also, making meals will require more preparation and pre-planning.

It’s important to make sure meals are well-balanced and include sources of vitamin b12, essential fatty acids, iron, calcium, and vitamin d.

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Per Dr. Josh Axe a wellness physician certified in clinical nutrition, popular radio show host, and sought-after national speaker points out some important issues when considering a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Switching to a vegan diet is considered a healthy move by many, but it may not be all it’s cracked up to be in some bases. Below are some of the downsides to eating a completely vegan diet long term (more than several months): (6)

  1. Protein deficiency (lack of amino acids). Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle and are important for cellular health and proper metabolism. Too little protein can call muscle wasting, cognitive changes, mood swings and weakness.

  2. Low levels of vitamin B12. You can only get vitamin B12 in substantial amounts by consuming meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, so vegans usually need to take supplements.

  3. Lower intake of other nutrients like zinc, sometimes calcium and omega-3 fatty acids.

  4. Higher intake of antinutrients like phytic acid. There are grains, beans and legumes, such as raw soybeans, lentils and mung beans, that may contain trypsin inhibitors. These inhibitors can block key digestive enzymes. Also, grains can contain phytic acid that can keep you from digesting calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. However, soaking and sprouting your grains and legumes can greatly reduce phytic acid.

  5. Potential inability to put on muscle. This may be due to the lack of certain vitamins that we normally get from meat and fish.

  6. Overconsumption of carbohydrates. One of the most common trends I’ve found from working with hundreds of vegans and vegetarians is that they tend to overconsume carbohydrates and hidden sugar foods. Eating too many carbs can cause candida and yeast overgrowth along with weight grain. There are some vegans who have created a better balance, but this is far from the majority.

  7. Fatigue and feeling exhausted. Again, this is usually due to the lack of certain vitamins and minerals that we normally get from meat and fish, such as iron and B vitamins.

SOME ALARMING CONCERNS FOR KIDS:

The issue of children consuming vegetarian/ vegan diets is controversial. Some experts report it’s not safe for children while others state it can be perfectly healthy if followed properly.

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Per EurekAlert! an online, global news service operated by AAAS, the science society : reports that when:

parents pursue a vegan diet for their child, they must seek and strictly follow medical and dietary advice to make sure their infant receives adequate nutrition. Both mother and infant should follow advice regarding supplementation” advises Professor Mary Fewtrell, chairman of ESPGHAN’s nutrition committee comments:

The biggest risk to vegan children is that of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Foods derived from animals have been shown to be the only reliable source of vitamin B12 and a deficiency of the vitamin can have devastating effects. Vitamin B12 is essential to the creation of DNA, indispensable for the maintenance of the nervous system, and a lack of it can result in hematological and neurological disorders, causing damage in young children which can be irreversible.

Therefore problems can arise when parents are unaware of the associated risks of switching to a more restricted diet….

Per CBS news:

Stories of vegan parents being arrested for malnourished children pop up every few years in the U.S., and the cases in Italy have made international news.

In Arizona, Kimu Parker was arrested in April 2005 for nearly starving her three children with a diet she and the children’s father called vegan. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison; the father, Blair Parker, got 15 years.

In Florida in 2005, Joseph and Lamoy Andressohn got probation for neglect in the death of their 6-month-old son, who was fed only wheat grass, coconut water and almond milk.

In Georgia, Jade Sanders and Lamont Thomas were sentenced to life in prison for the 2004 death of their 6-week-old son, who starved to death after they fed him a too-limited diet of soy milk and apple juice.

Therefore, do your research! Know that if you make the decision to change to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you must make sure you and your family get the proper nutrients. It can be challenging with a busy schedule and eating out can be difficult with many restaurants offering limited or no meatless options. It can be easy to fall into the trap of relying on unhealthy choices such as junk food, pizza, fries, and desserts due to the lack of available choices. Meals should be well balanced with complete proteins and you may need to consider supplementation.

Be sure to consult your child’s pediatrician, family physician and or certified nutritionist to ensure you and your family are getting the proper nutrients in your diet.

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Converting to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle can be a great way to help the environment, combat obesity, lower blood pressure, and cholesterol. However, make sure to consult with a nutritionist and your physician on proper guidelines.

Follow these tips to make sure your diet is healthy and provides the proper nutrients:

  1. Include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables with all your meals. Make smoothies and juices to make it more appealing for kids and picky eaters.
  2. If needed consider supplementation with a multivitamin that contains b12, iron, zinc, and vitamin d. Discuss this with a nutritionist or your family physician.
  3. Make sure you get enough protein in your diet- beans, nut butter, protein supplements, etc.
  4. Have regular family check-ups with complete blood workups to make sure you and your family are getting adequate nutrients on a daily basis.
  5. Plan your meals and snacks each week to make it easier to avoid eating processed foods loaded with sugar and unhealthy ingredients.

Your Daily Choices Can Heal Or Kill

“Regaining health is more difficult an objective then becoming ill. Becoming ill is a random act of ignorance and regaining health is an intentional effort in frustration.” 
― Richard Diaz

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Although hereditary factors can play a part in some diseases, you have more control over your health than you think. Your body is an amazing machine designed to heal if it senses a threat, but poor daily food choices and inactivity can lead to permanent damage. There comes a point where your body gives in and stops fighting.

Once this occurs there is often damage that can’t be reversed. Diabetes can lead to blindness, loss of limbs, and even coma. Heart disease and hypertension can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Your choices could leave you dependent on others for your care.

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But the good news is you can change your future. You have a choice every day to make better decisions regarding your health.

Don’t wake up one day and regret the opportunities you had to create a healthy lifestyle, and live a better quality of life.

FOLLOW THESE TIPS TO CREATE A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE :

  • Monitor your weight- Although it’s important not to obsess over the scales and weighing yourself daily, you do need to check your weight periodically. Gaining just a few pounds each year can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Make a point to weigh yourself once a week and log your results. If you notice a slight gain of a couple of pounds, then simply increase your activity and cut back on portion sizes. Tracking your weight on a regular basis will help you avoid extra pounds that can creep up over the years.
  • Remain active– Staying active is a key factor in improving health and maintaining an optimum weight as you age. Today more than ever, people tend to lead a more sedentary lifestyle. Many people have desk jobs and find it difficult to incorporate exercise into their schedule. However, it’s important to remain active so you can enjoy a good quality of life as you age. Brisk walking is a great cardiovascular exercise and you may want to consider walking or biking to work. Perhaps you can fit exercise in by taking a walk on your lunch break or joining a gym close to work. Many gyms are now 24 hours making it easier than ever to fit workouts into your schedule. It’s important to find an activity you enjoy and schedule your workouts on your calendar.
  • Avoid processed foods- Processed foods are typically high in calories and contain chemicals and toxins that can lead to weight gain. If you frequently eat out, try to select grilled lean meat without sauces. Select a salad, baked potato, or steamed vegetables as a side dish. Try to cook and eat most of your meals at home. Purchase organic fruits and vegetables when possible and experiment with healthy new recipes you’ve always wanted to try.
  • Do resistance training- Weight training is vital as you get older. Studies show that muscle mass declines with age. Muscle mass peaks around the mid-twenties; starts to decline in our thirties, and picks up speed as we age. Weight training helps you maintain a healthy metabolism and helps combat the loss of muscle tone as you get older. Lifting weights 2-3 times a week can play a major role in maintaining your strength and muscle tone. Therefore, if you are already strength training, you are on the right track! If not, it’s never too late to pick up a set of weights and get started.

Take control of your health starting today! Make the decision to heal rather than kill. It’s all about our daily choices.

Self Control- It’s More Important Than You Think

Self control can be a tremendous challenge but it’s like a muscle that responds to how often we use it. The more you use it the stronger it gets. Learn to pause and think about your food choices. It’s more important than you might think.

How are you going to feel 5 minutes after gobbling down a burger and fries? Poor food choices affect you physically by making you feel sluggish and in the long run can lead to disease. Mentally it often makes you feel bad about yourself and your inability to stick to your goals.

Think about it; is your health and well being worth that few minutes it takes to scarf down that greasy pizza or sugar laden doughnut? You can learn to make better choices by exercising self control.

Learn to visualize success and imagine how you are going to feel after making a healthy food selection. Every time you make a better food choice, you increase your will power and self control.

You can learn to enjoy healthy food. It simply requires discipline. Try experimenting with new recipes and really get involved in your food preparation. Your body will respond with more sustained energy and you will build discipline and self control.

Remember pause and reflect- food can either improve your health or cause disease. It’s your choice. 😊

My daily Challenge For Lent

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I love the season of Lent and how it reminds me to slow down and put my life into perspective. I often have trouble coming up with ideas of what “to give up” for the forty day period. Over the past several years, I’ve decided to put more thought into my Lenten promise; and the likelihood of me actually following through. I mean one year I actually tried to give up peanut butter and chocolate. What was I thinking??

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Then there was the year I chose to give up social media. That didn’t work either. Although I thought I had plenty of willpower; forty days is a lot longer than you think.

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Therefore I decided this time to keep it simple this year. I put much more thought into my choices and came up with the following:

  1. Spend more time each day on my daily readings and in prayer. I signed up for two social media sites that would deliver daily Lent readings to my inbox. These are wonderful reminders and often offer different perspectives on the readings. One of the sites is USCCB.org and the other is UCATHOLIC.com
  2. Meatless Friday– This one is pretty easy. I can have fish but usually end up eating veggies, pasta, or cheese pizza. I put a reminder in my phone so I don’t forget. food-dinner-lemon-rice.jpg
  3. Intermittent Fasting– There are many different types of fasting. I decided to do the fast where you eat during an eight-hour window during the day and then fast for 15 hours. This is a good challenge for me since I love breakfast. I typically eat every morning at 6 am, so to hold out until 9 or 10 am is a quite a challenge.
  4. No Peanut Butter– I truly am addicted to peanut butter so although it was nearly impossible for me to give up chocolate and peanut butter at the same time, giving up one is doable.
  5. Do something nice for someone everyday. Start at home with your family and then expand to others throughout your day. It can be as simple as a compliment, a card, a gift, holding the door for someone, paying for someone’s meal, etc. The goal is to make someone’s day better. gift-made-surprise-loop-40562.jpeg

Immune Boosting Orange Smoothie

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Coconut milk, 2 cutie oranges, cup of cantaloupe, cup of fresh spinach, hemp protein and fiber, organic flax , cinnamon and crushed ice

Aging And Weight Gain

Aging and Weight Gain

I guess I don’t so much mind being old, as I mind being fat and old” Ben Franklin

Many people assoclifestyle changeiate aging with weight gain. That’s not surprising when you look around and notice that many of your friends, co-workers, and loved ones seem to pack on pounds with each passing year. Subsequently, many people assume weight gain is a normal part of the aging process. However, you can prevent weight gain as you get older with a consistent exercise program and a healthy diet.

In our youth-oriented culture, many people look at aging as losing their looks, their health, and their value in society. Aging is inevitable; everyone gets older, but how you age is greatly influenced by lifestyle factors. The foods you eat, the daily decisions you make, and how you take care of your body,  can have a huge impact on how you age.

Many times age-related weight gain is due to decreased activity and poor food choices. Quite often people become less active as they get older and begin to eat out more often. Eating away from home can be challenging due to high calorie, and high-fat menu items. This can lead to increased weight due to larger portions and extra calories. When you factor in a less active lifestyle, it can lead to weight gain and increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

A weight training program can help you maintain a healthy metabolism and prevent weight gain as you age. The solution is adding a well-balanced, consistent workout program that will help you manage your weight, and keep you strong and flexible. Therefore, it’s important to add flexibility and balance training to your routine to stay limber and strengthen your core.

Follow these five tips to avoid weight gain associated with aging and to help you live a more active lifestyle.

  1. Monitor your weight  Although it’s important not to obsess over the scales, you do need to check your weight periodically. Gaining just a few pounds each year can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Make a point to weigh yourself once a week and log your results. If you notice a slight gain of a couple of pounds, then simply increase your activity and cut back on portion sizes. Tracking your weight weekly will help you avoid unwanted pounds that can gradually add up over the years.
  2. Clean up your diet As you get older you may find yourself more relaxed about your appearance and the pressure of maintaining a certain image related to your weight and appearance. Retirement often brings a more relaxed lifestyle without the pressures of a career and children. This is a wonderful time to explore life, travel, and experiment with delightful new restaurants and foods you’ve always wanted to try. The key is to eat a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and to limit your food splurges to one meal a week.
  3. Remain active– Staying active is a key factor in maintaining an optimum weight as you age. Many people become more sedentary after retirement when they no longer have the pressures and activities of a daily job. It’s important to remain active so you can enjoy a good quality of life as you age. Brisk walking is a great cardiovascular exercise or join a gym and become involved in group fitness classes. Many gyms offer programs specifically for seniors and offer discounts for memberships. You may want to consider trying aqua aerobics or a senior yoga class. It’s important to find an activity you enjoy and can adhere to on a consistent basis.
  4. Avoid processed foods  Processed foods are typically high in calories and contain chemicals and toxins that can lead to weight gain. If you frequently eat out, try to select grilled lean meat without sauces. Select a salad, baked potato, or steamed vegetables as a side dish. Try to cook and eat most of your meals at home. Purchase organic fruits and vegetables when possible. Experiment with healthy new recipes from the numerous online sources or from a new recipe book.
  5. Do resistance training  Weight training is vital as you get older. Studies show that muscle mass declines with age. Muscle mass peaks around in our twenties, declines in our thirties, and picks up speed as we age. Weight training helps you maintain a healthy metabolism and helps combat the loss of muscle tone as you get older. Lifting weights 2-3 times a week can play a major role in maintaining your strength and muscle tone. Therefore, if you are already strength training, you are on the right track! If not, it’s never too late to pick up a set of weights and get started.

The key to a healthy weight and metabolism as you age,  is to stay active and to consistently make healthy food choices. Enjoy occasional splurges in moderation. Weight gain and inactivity can increase your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Weight gain does not have to automatically occur just because you get older. Take charge of your health by following a well-balanced fitness and nutrition program and periodic monitoring of your weight.

“I guess I don’t so much mind being old, as I mind being fat and old” -Ben Franklin

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 Many people automatically associate weight gain with aging. Although you can’t control genetic factors, you can take charge of your health and how you age in the article below. Click on the link below to read my latest article on BellaOnline:

 

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art174540.asp