Some vegetarians struggle to maintain a well-balanced diet and often include too many dairy products and processed ready-meals which can lead to weight-gain and other problems. However, with a little bit of thought and planning, vegetarians can follow a healthy diet without having to go hungry or getting bored.
Breakfast is essential as it sets you up for the day and maintains sugar levels. Many of us have busy lives and feel like we just don’t have the time to prepare a meal first thing in the morning. Start as you mean to go on and set your alarm twenty minutes earlier and make a conscious effort to eat something before your working day begins.
Forget thick, white bread and butter or sugary cereals. Instead try a low-fat cereal with chopped banana and skimmed milk. If you can’t live without your toast try whole meal bread with low-fat spread or topped with tomatoes and black pepper. Alternatively fry mushrooms and an egg in Spray-lite and serve with baked beans and brown toast.
Once again it is important to take the time out of your day to spend a little time preparing a nutritious meal for lunch. You don’t have to make a huge meal and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Prepare a hot baked potato and serve with low-fat coleslaw, beans or low-fat cottage cheese. Serve with unlimited salad. Alternatively stuff whole meal pitta bread with crunchy, fresh salad and reduced-fat hummus. If you are really strapped for time then prepare a lunchbox the night before and make low-fat egg mayonnaise sandwiches with low-fat yoghurt for dessert.
Tip: Buy a couple of bags of pre-prepared salad so you don’t spend your lunch hour washing and chopping.
It is important to have at least one hot meal a day and there are plenty of options that are low-fat and healthy that the whole family can enjoy. The good thing about a vegetarian diet is that you can eat lots of vegetables which are really good for you and that will keep you feeling full. Be careful not to add lashings of butter or high calorie dressings or sauces. If you can’t eat vegetables without butter try adding low-fat vegetable spread instead.
Add delicious veggies such as peppers, mushrooms and onions to tinned tomatoes and mix with whole wheat pasta. Or add unlimited vegetables to low-fat curry sauce and serve with brown rice. You can get adventurous with meat-substitute proteins such as tofu or textured vegetable proteins and make your own vegetarian shepherd’s pie, spaghetti bolognaise, stews or stir-fries.
You don’t have to give up on sweet things just because you are on a diet. There are plenty of low-fat options available. Chop up fresh fruit and mix with low fat yoghurt or ice-cream. Experiment with different types of fruit that you may not have tried before and add to meringue nests with natural yogurt.
Many people trying to lose weight fail because they are just too hungry between meals. Snack on raw fruit and vegetables or eat a portion of nuts when feeling peckish. If you must have chocolate then treat yourself to a couple of pieces of dark chocolate which is better for you than milk chocolate and is more satisfying.
The basis of weight-loss is to consume less calories than you burn. In turn your body will then begin to use fat reserves that are stored in the body and you will begin to lose weight. Don’t go without the things you love; just cut down overall and have one diet-free day per week.