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FAQs

What do you think of the Keto diet?

Ugh, when will this fad go away? I’ve seen a softened approach to the keto diet lately, which makes me happy. Happier than you are when you avoid carbs, anyway.

Constipation, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, poor sleep, bad breath, and heart disease are a few of the side effects of the keto diet.

And to really kick you in the teeth, low-carb dieters are much, much more likely to gain back lost weight and then some when compared to those that eat in a more balanced manner.  

And who says you need to lose weight anyway?

*To be fair, there are a few neurological conditions that do benefit from a true ketogenic diet. Individuals who have been recommended by their healthcare practitioner to follow a medically supervised ketogenic diet should stay in close contact with their experienced dietitian as well as the rest of their medical team.

What should I eat to lose weight?

The main components of any healthy diet are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts/seeds. 1/4 of your plate should consist of your protein. 

When you aim to lose weight, be especially mindful of the calories you are consuming, particularly from nuts/seeds, avocado, and your splurges. Aim for 80-90% healthful foods and 10-20% splurges throughout the week. Typically, an all-or-nothing approach does us no favors, causing us to fall into a guilt cycle that does us no favors.

I urge you to consider why you want to lose weight. If a recent diagnosis scared you into changing your diet, can you consider focusing on healthful behaviors, rather than unhealthy restrictions that leave you feeling terrible and are not sustainable anyway?

Most health conditions can improve in the absence of forcing your body to look a certain way.

My doctor says I have three months to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol, or I’ll have to go on medications. What should I do?

Increase your fruit and vegetable intake to 7-9 servings per day. Oily fish at least twice per week, for those of us that eat fish. (Algal oil contains the exact same fats as fish oil, and is veg*n friendly). Avoid coconut as cooking oil, opting for something that is liquid at room temperature instead.   

Snack on nuts and seeds. 

Decrease sodium to below 2300 mg/day.

Move your body more.

The three-month time limit is frustrating because it is easier for people to make gradual, yet meaningful changes to their diet than to change everything all at once. With this time limit, I would focus on increasing your produce intake by 1-2 servings per day every 1-2 weeks.

Add a 10-20-minute walk 2-3 days per week. Then increase as you feel comfortable. Or better yet, if you sit at a desk all day, start getting up every hour and move for about 5 minutes. You’ll feel better overall and your performance at work will probably actually improve as well.

Be honest with your physician. Let him know what changes you’ve made and how hard you’ve been working. Ask for a referral to a registered dietitian. Their expertise and the relationship that comes from repeated visits will help more than you can imagine.

How do vegetarians and vegans get enough protein?

Vegetarians do have to make sure they get enough protein in their diet. For me, getting vegetables in is easy, so I try to plan my meals around my protein source. I also make sure that any snacks I may eat include some protein as well.

Because vegans avoid dairy and eggs, they must ensure they get their protein from varied sources. Whole grains,  beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and soy are all excellent sources of protein. Vegan protein powders can be used in smoothies and shakes, particularly before or after a workout.

Everyone should plan out their meals to some degree, but vegetarians and vegans may have to work a little harder at it. Remember that vegan and vegetarian diets can be very healthy or very unhealthy, just like a diet that includes meat.

Why did you decide to be vegetarian?

I stopped eating meat in 2007 due to animal welfare concerns. I worked at veterinary clinics for years, and after watching a particularly upsetting movie (not even a documentary!) I couldn’t see the differentiation between animals we keep as pets and animals we farm to eat. 

Becoming a vegetarian in November (Hello, Turkey Day!), while living in a rural area was not easy!

The reasons I stay vegetarian are numerous. My migraines decreased in severity and frequency and then disappeared completely. The stomach issues I had experienced my whole life cleared up.

I was in an ecology class that had me take a carbon footprint questionnaire. I was amazed when my carbon footprint changed from pretty average to low when the interactive website asked me about my diet!

I learned how a lot about cooking, and can honestly say my diet is much more varied now than it was when I ate meat, but then, so is my husband’s.

 

(*Update: as life has made more demands, and stress levels have gone up, {HELLO kid, grad school, then second kid!} I have had some other GI issues and health conditions occur. Vegetarian diets do not prevent life from happening, and I do have to monitor certain things to make sure I’m feeling good!)

I am a vegetarian, but my partner isn’t. How can we keep the peace at dinnertime?

I wrote an article about that!

What it boils down to is respecting each other’s choices. Your decision to be a vegetarian may not resonate with your partner, and that is okay. Plan out mealtimes together. Read through my article, linked above, to get ideas and determine which plan of action will work best in your household. My husband works nights, and we often eat separately.

He would use an indoor grill to quickly cook chicken to add to whatever I cooked.

Ultimately, respecting each other’s choices is the most important!

 

I want to eat healthily, but it is so expensive. Do you have any tips?

Buying healthy ingredients at the store is actually not expensive! The illusion of expensive eating comes from the over-utilization of convenience foods: pre-cut fruits and vegetables, salads at a fast-food restaurant, meal prep boxes at the grocery store, and packages of seasoned nuts and seeds.

The other reason healthy food is thought to be expensive is the evolution of the “Instagram Model.” You’ve seen her and her ultra-complicated recipes such as smooth bowls, chia pudding, and awful-sounding juices. You don’t need 25 ingredients to make a healthy breakfast. And you don’t need to process those ingredients into oblivion. You also don’t need green powders, mushroom coffees, or whatever the next fad “superfood” is.

In fact, research shows you get more satisfaction out of your food when you chew it. I know, shocking, right? How can I get paid to do these studies?

Need a snack? Reach for an apple or celery with peanut butter. Two super cheap ingredients, minimal prep needed, and you actually get to chew! Go ahead and throw on a few mini chocolate chips while you’re at it…

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