- Posted March 2, 2013 by
Vegetarianism is defined as the practise of consuming solely plant-based foods and taking out meat, poultry, fish and seafood. Dairy and eggs may or may not be included. Compete avoidance of animal products is classified as veganism. On the other hand, a diet by definition is the intentional selection and/or limitation of food to control body weight and/or address certain health issues such as high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and heart disease.
In the broadest sense, vegetarianism may be considered a diet in itself as it confers health benefits including weight loss if done properly. Those who practise this oftentimes do not wish to call it a diet as this term connotes deprivation and that it is something you get into for a specific amount of time to achieve a specific health goal as opposed to a lifelong lifestyle choice.
In the strictest sense, a vegetarian diet can be viewed as a “diet within a diet” wherein excessive fats and high-glycemic fruits are limited and instead more vegetables are consumed.
Calories are not so much the concern of vegetarians as plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts confer a lot of quality nutrients without the high calorie content associated with a conventional diet with large amounts of meat (pork and beef) and chicken whether processed or not. However, if one is not careful, consuming too much starchy food and fruit can lead to elevated blood sugar levels while too much fats, though healthy and cholesterol-free, can still lead to weight gain.
Not all calories are created equal. Carbohydrate and protein for example contain four calories per gram while fat has nine calories per gram. The same number of calories from a hearty salad of leafy greens, nuts and a light dressing may provide more quality energy and nutrients from a hotdog made from processed meat, mayonnaise and white bread. Same goes for the calories in a cup of fresh fruit compared to cup of hot fudge sundae.
Whether vegetarian or not, smart choices have to be made to be able to achieve long term health and wellness and avoid diseases.
Those who just converted to a vegetarian lifestyle are recommended to seek the guidance of a health practitioner–a doctor, nutritionist or wellness advocate who can monitor that essential nutrients are complete and in adequate amounts. Joining a support group also helps to get a broad view of various people’s journey.