Tamara, our client, is a 16 year old typical teenage girl who wants to become a vegetarian.
She is otherwise healthy, but at risk of obesity.
Since she stopped eating meat, fish, and poultry (for moral reasons) she has been eating lots of rice and pasta and gained some weight.
This new change in her lifestyle left her clueless regarding finding nutritious alternatives.
Even though Tamara’s parents were not present for our consultations, they were still a part of our guidance, as she was still living at home and they were the ones cooking most of her meals and in charge of all grocery shopping.
They were a bit concerned that the decision she made would ultimately become a burden for them. They would now have to cook different meals for her on top of cooking for the rest of the family. But we offered them some useful tips to make this transition as smooth as possible.
One of the tips was to encourage her to be a part of making her meals, thus giving her more responsibility over what she eats. They all needed to explore vegetarian eating together. Providing her with the know-how to be a healthy vegetarian is a great way to support her decision.
We all had a joint cause, well actually two: The first one was to help her and her family adjust to her new vegetarian diet and familiarize her with alternative food options, and the second one was to help her lose weight in the process.
Nutrition wise, there is a different approach when it comes to teenagers. Their body and their brain are still growing and developing, so simply dropping certain foods from your diet isn’t the way to go if you’re interested in maintaining good health, a high energy level, and strong muscles and bones.
True vegetarian diets are high in fiber and tend to be low in saturated fat and calories. This may be good for people who need to lose weight or lower their cholesterol but it can be a problem for kids and teens who are still growing. Teens who eliminate food groups, from whatever motivation, and fail to replace them with comparable alternatives can be at risk for malnutrition. Their needs for protein and other nutrients are higher than adults, whose brains and bones have stopped developing. Fat intake (of the unsaturated kind) is also detrimental for teenage girls, in particular for healthy hormone production and balance in addition to encouraging healthy skin, hair and nails.
We wanted to make sure Tamara could be a vegetarian and not infringe on her growth and development.
Vegetarians have to be sure to include some key nutrients that may be lacking in a vegetable-based diet: iron, calcium, protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and zinc. It is often recommended to take periodical blood tests to make sure all these nutrient levels are balanced. Sometimes there is a need to compensate for deficiencies by taking certain daily vitamin and mineral supplements.
A vegetarian diet is not only a healthy way of eating, it has other potential health benefits, like lowering rates of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
We had to teach Tamara and her family about balanced meals containing vegetables, protein, healthy fats and whole grains and introduce them to alternative sources of protein like tofu, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
These veggie burgers made of lentils and carrots, can be a great dish for vegetarians. They are super easy to prepare, which makes it a quick dish to accommodate vegetarians. As soon as you try them and get the hang of it, you can mix in different vegetables to add variety.
Lentil Carrot Burgers
3 shredded carrots
1 diced fried onion
1/2 cup cooked lentils
3 tbsp chia seeds
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°c /350°f
Mix all ingredients together
Bake in silicone muffin trays until browned
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