Vegetarian Diet

In my quest for weight loss in the past, I have practiced a lacto-ovo vegetarian lifestyle.  As a matter of fact, there are days that I don't need muscle meat protein if I take in eggs, milk and cheese.  I do very well with dairy so I keep it in my diet. It's a fabulous calcium source for me and if you're questioning the health of dairy, I have provided you with some studies below to satisfy yourself to the benefit of dairy in a dairy tolerant person. 

Healthy Breakfast

What exactly is lacto/ovo vegetarian? It is someone who does not consume animal flesh but might consume dairy and egg products.  This is generally for moral, religious or health reasons. A vegan is someone who eschews all animal based products in favor of plants or a "plant based diet."

I frequently consult with people who begin our conversation with "I eat healthy, I don't eat much meat." The idea that meat is the cause of disease is poor science at best.  So many of the substitute animal products are over processed combinations of GMO soybeans, vegetable oils and preservatives. This isn't a healthy option as an animal protein substitute. 

Thanks to T. Colin Campbell's The China Study, we have been falsely led to believe that animal protein is dangerous. I refer you to  Denise Minger who has published a well cited critique of this controversial subject.

I'm not here to challenge your decision nor am I here to challenge your ethical beliefs. I know what works for my biochemical individuality, I consume with great conscience and compassion and I wish the same for you. I just want you to make your decisions based on sound science but most importantly, I want you to understand what your body needs. 

 

Listening to your dynamic body is the best way to make your food decisions.  Again, take care of your health with consciousness.  

I can't tell you that the Lacto-Ovo vegetarian lifestyle is or is not the right lifestyle for you but what I can do is provide you with the information to gain knowledge and with that, assist you in making an educated decision. Animal proteins are nutrient dense so very little is needed to provide the building blocks of your body.  This includes eggs and dairy. 

 

I don't personally feel like a vegan lifestyle is a healthy diet long term but it is a fabulous "cleansing diet."  Protein is needed by the liver for thyroid health so if you do choose a vegan lifestyle, I recommend you eat plenty of potatoes daily as these are a great source of protein and be sure to monitor your body temperature. 

I have witnessed far too many signs and symptoms of disturbances particularly from that of a "junk food vegetarian/vegan lifestyle" and if we think critically, we must question a long term diet that requires supplementation.  When we take the advice of typical vegetarian professionals who have written books, we must put our biochemical individuality first.  As a nutrition educator and former Healthy Eating Specialist at Whole Foods Market, I worked closely with these "guru's" who recommended a "one size fits all approach" only to listen to many complaints from primarily Women regarding digestive distress.  Someone who is suffering from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or IBS-C and D is going to have a heck of a time digesting the most popular vegetarian food choices.  A vegetarian who tries to "veg harder" might end up losing thyroid function.  This is where a "Grain Free Vegetarian Diet"  might be your best bet. 

Some symptoms that your diet isn't nourishing include:

  • Hair Loss

  • Cold Hands, nose & Feet-Down Regulated Thyroid

  • Loss of Menstrual Cycle

  • Lack of Energy

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Memory Loss

  • Loss of Bone Density

  • Blood Sugar Dysregulation

  • Bloating and gas

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

See my Diet Recovery page should you find yourself drained and unable to function well. 

Choose what will work for you, eliminate the meats and add the following as your protein sources:

  • Eggs

  • Cheese

  • Cottage Cheese

  • Low-fat or Whole Milk-Preferably Raw

  • Greek Yogurt 

  • Tempeh or Miso (Be careful with the soy and if your metabolism is sluggish to begin with, soy can push it further into decline with its anti-thyroid effect.)

  • Beans/Legumes - These can be allergenic foods for those with intestinal permeability or bowel disease. Be sure to soak/sprout as this reduces the allergenic compounds. Lentils and chickpeas are the easiest on digestion. 

  • Grains - Traditional soaking/sprouted is recommended to reduce allergenic compounds. Quinoa, Buckwheat and Wild Rice are the healthiest whole grains with the lowest impact as allergens. 

  • Nuts & Seeds - These are high in unsaturated fats or PUFA's and should be eaten carefully. Too many use nuts and seeds as protein sources which are not efficient and can cause gut problems.  Nuts also have a propensity to go rancid very easily and this contributes to lipid peroxidation. Historically, we cracked our own nuts and didn't use them as flour or "milks."

  • Protein Powders -Whey or Plant Based

Vegetables and fruits contain some proteins as well so be sure to include plenty of the following foods as long as you can digest them:

Each of these contain 2 grams protein or more per cup

  • Potatoes (All types but the white potato is the most abundant)

  • Squash

  • Sprouts 

  • Peas

  • Spinach

  • Artichoke

  • Mushrooms (cook well for best digestibility. Mushrooms are a valuable multiple nutrient food and gut astringent) 

  • Beet Greens

  • Asparagus

  • Bamboo shoots (cook well for a fabulous gut astringent) 

  • Bok-Choy

  • Passion fruit

  • Blackberries

  • Mulberries

  • Pomegranate 

  • Jack fruit

  • Avocado 

If you are looking at a vegetarian diet for blood sugar issues, or weight loss, fruit has a lower insulin response due to the potassium content while starches ensue a larger response from the pancreas.  Whether you choose low fat or low carb, I don't promote a high fat diet due to the free fatty acid response that has the potential to cause insulin resistance.  This is heavily argued in the low carb, keto world but I've watched many Women and several Men present with insulin resistance with a high fat, low carbohydrate diet.  I was one of them and I ate quite well. When you understand the physiological process of sending glucose to the blood stream for the hungry brain and energy levels, you understand that stress hormones are involved in this process.  While you might feel a certain "energy" or "high", this is generally attributed to high adrenaline which, when constantly elevated break down muscle tissue.  

References:

http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/milk.shtml

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC507380/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cortisol