Archive for the ‘Health and Weight’ Category

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

A Vegetarian Diet

According the United States Department of Agriculture a vegetarian Diet can meet the requirements for nutrients. The key is to consume a variety of foods and the right amount of foods to meet your calorie needs.

Follow the food group recommendations for your age, sex, and activity level to get the right amount of food and the variety of foods needed for nutrient adequacy. Nutrients that vegetarians may need to focus on include

  • protein,
  • iron
  • calcium,
  • zinc
  • vitamin B12

Nutrients that Vegetarians should focus on


have  many important functions in the body and are  essential for growth and maintenance. Protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods. Combining different protein sources in the same meal is not necessary. Sources of protein for vegetarians include beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, and soy products (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers). Milk products and eggs are also good protein sources for lacto-ovo vegetarians


functions primarily as a carrier of oxygen in the blood. Iron sources for vegetarians include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses, whole wheat breads, peas, and some dried fruits (dried apricots, prunes, raisins).


is used for building bones and teeth and in maintaining bone strength. Sources of calcium for vegetarians include fortified breakfast cereals, soy products (tofu, soy-based beverages), calcium-fortified orange juice, and some dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens). Milk products are excellent calcium sources for lacto vegetarians.


is necessary for many biochemical reactions and also helps the immune system function properly. Sources of zinc for vegetarians include many types of beans (white beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas), zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds. Milk products are a zinc source for lacto vegetarians.

Vitamin B12

is found in animal products and some fortified foods. Sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians include milk products, eggs, and foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12. These include breakfast cereals, soy-based beverages, veggie burgers, and nutritional yeast.

Tips for Vegetarians

  • Build meals around protein sources that are naturally low in fat, such as beans, lentils, and rice. Don’t overload meals with high-fat cheeses to replace the meat.
  • Calcium-fortified soy-based beverages can provide calcium in amounts similar to milk. They are usually low in fat and do not contain cholesterol.
  • Many foods that typically contain meat or poultry can be made vegetarian. This can increase vegetable intake and cut saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Consider:
  • pasta primavera or pasta with marinara or pesto sauce
  • veggie pizza
  • vegetable lasagna
  • tofu-vegetable stir fry
  • vegetable lo mein
  • vegetable kabobs
  • bean burritos or tacos
  • A variety of vegetarian products look (and may taste) like their non-vegetarian counterparts, but are usually lower in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol.
    • For breakfast, try soy-based sausage patties or links.
    • Rather than hamburgers, try veggie burgers. A variety of kinds are available, made with soy beans, vegetables, and/or rice.
    • Add vegetarian meat substitutes to soups and stews to boost protein without adding saturated fat or cholesterol. These include tempeh (cultured soybeans with a chewy texture), tofu, or wheat gluten (seitan).
    • For barbecues, try veggie or garden burgers, soy hot dogs, marinated tofu or tempeh, and veggie kabobs.
    • Make bean burgers, lentil burgers, or pita halves with falafel (spicy ground chick pea patties).
    • Some restaurants offer soy options (texturized vegetable protein) as a substitute for meat, and soy cheese as a substitute for regular cheese.
  • Most restaurants can accommodate vegetarian modifications to menu items by substituting meatless sauces, omitting meat from stir-fries, and adding vegetables or pasta in place of meat. These substitutions are more likely to be available at restaurants that make food to order.
  • Many Asian and Indian restaurants offer a varied selection of vegetarian dishes.

Weight Management

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

A USDA  Overview of Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Obesity in the United States has doubled in the past two decades. Nearly one-third of adults are obese, that is, they have a body mass index (BMI ) of 30 or greater.

Over the last two decades, the  prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents has increased substantially. It  is estimated that as many as 16 percent of children and adolescents are overweight, representing a doubling of the rate among children and tripling of the rate among adolescents.

Overweight and obesity is a  great public health concern because excess body fat leads to a higher risk for:

  • premature death
  • type 2 diabetes,
  • hypertension, dyslipidemia which is an abnormal amount of lipids & lipoproteins in  the blood
  • cardiovascular disease,  stroke,  gall bladder disease
  • respiratory dysfunction,  gout
  • osteoarthritis,  and certain kinds of cancers

Ideally, the goal for adults is to achieve and maintain a body weight that avoids the risk of major health problems.  For obese adults, even modest weight loss (e.g., 10 pounds) has health benefits, and the prevention of further weight gain is very important.

For overweight children and adolescents, the goal is to slow the rate of weight gain while achieving normal growth and development. Maintaining a healthy weight throughout childhood may reduce the risk of becoming an overweight or obese adult.

While overweight and obesity are currently significant public health issues, not all Americans need to lose weight. People at a healthy weight should strive to maintain their weight, and underweight individuals may need to increase their weight.

Eating fewer calories while increasing physical activity are the keys to controlling body weight.


  • To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended.
  • To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.
  • Find friends or family members who  share the same concerns and are willing to support each other in the weight loss plan.  It helps to be accountable to others and get hints,  tips and encouragement.

Consult a health care provider about weight loss strategies prior to starting a weight-reduction program to ensure appropriate management of other health conditions.

A huge benefit when to physical activities is that research has shown that there is overall improvement in psychological health and reduced symptoms of  depression.


When choosing a weight loss plan, go with the recommended calories that you should consume for a day. If it is 2000 calories then choose foods that will give you bulk and provide proteins, carbohydrates, and good fats.
If you simply cannot do without that delicious dessert, then do not deprive yourself completely. Make sure you can accommodate it in your allotted calorie amount for the day.

Portion Size

Here again you should be sensible about how much you really need to eat.  So do try and curb the size of your portions.  The smaller portion you eat the less calories you consume.


I have used some of the information for this blog from

Watch out for more blogs on Calorie Intakes and Fats.