Eating vegetarian is supposed to help people lose weight, right? Well, speaking from experience, not eating meat in college did nothing to prevent me from gaining 40+ pounds. If you’re vegetarian and trying to get slimmer, avoid these mistakes (that could end up causing weight gain).
Trading Protein For Carbs
If you’re skipping the chicken or salmon for dinner, don’t just eat a bowl of pasta! While carbs are essential for energy and brain function, you need protein as well. Find ways to get your fill with legumes like lentils, black beans, and soy products, whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy products (if you’re eating them). This chart shows you how much protein you need in a day. An easy way to get your fill is to remember to eat some form of protein at every meal and snack.
Only Eating Junk Food
Ice cream, French fries, cookies, bagels, pizza, and candy bars may be vegetarian, but they’re not void of calories. Remember that food is fuel and every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish your body. So you don’t want to waste calories on foods that will make you feel terrible – they won’t satiate your hunger and you’ll end up craving more junk and eating tons more daily calories.
Choose nutritious foods 80 percent of the time, and find ways to make those junky vegetarian foods healthier. Load veggies on your slice of pizza and bagel sandwich, make oven-roasted sweet potatoes instead of eating them deep-fried, and go for a handful of raw almonds with a piece of dark chocolate when candy bar cravings strike.
Too Many Veggies
Yes, there is such a thing! If your diet is too restrictive and you only eat veggies from morning till night, you’re not only not getting all the nutrients you need, but without enough protein, carbs, and healthy fats, you’ll feel tired, foggy-headed, and hangry. You can’t sustain this kind of diet and you’ll just end up craving (and devouring) not-so-good-for-you foods.
You Don’t Measure
While peanut butter is healthy, eating half a jar a day is not. Vegetarians especially need to pay attention to portion sizes since so many meat-free foods are high in carbs and calories. Don’t just blissfully pour an enormous bowl of cereal, grab handfuls of trail mix, or mindlessly dip bread into your bottomless bowl of potato leek soup. Measure out your portions and stop eating when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.