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A Vegan Plan for Weight Loss
am trying to lose weight. I have been vegan for three
months and have lost about three pounds since then. I'm
discouraged but not giving up. The diet has helped a lot
in regards to my blood sugars and hypoglycemic episodes,
but not in weight loss. HELP!
All the books that I've read give recipes
etc., but I need a more specific meal plan with exact
food amounts. Most vegetarian meal plans call for cheese,
yogurt & milk. Do you think you could send me a specific
meal plan or tell me of someone who can?
vegan diet is just one part of a vegan lifestyle (see
my essay "Vegan Living: The Path of Compassion") and
was not designed to be a weight loss program. Recently,
a number of physicians and healthcare practitioners
have come to recognize the inherent healthful benefits
of a totally plant-based diet and are actively promoting
it for healing, recovery and prevention of illness and
Although, in general, vegans and vegetarians
tend to be healthier and thinner, and many find it easier
to maintain their ideal weight, there is no magic tool
for knocking off the pounds. It is a myth (albeit, a
hard one to eradicate) that all vegans and vegetarians
are skinny. Poor lifestyle and dietary habits can proliferate
among vegans and vegetarians as readily as they do among
meat eaters. (You can still be a vegan on a diet of
greasy potato chips, peanuts and nondairy ice cream!)
Research continually points to a low-fat,
well-balanced diet which includes plenty of fresh fruits,
vegetables and whole, unrefined grains, combined with
regular daily exercise, as the sole coalescing force
behind achieving and maintaining ideal weight. A good
diet and exercise plan work in synergy and do not provide
the same health-supporting benefits independent of each
other. In addition, diet alone is frequently insufficient
for achieving long-term weight loss. Therefore, in addition
to evaluating what you are eating, take a look at what
you are (or are not) doing.
Some physicians who promote a whole
foods, plant-based diet do not feel that the quantity
of food is the primary issue in weight loss, but rather
the kind of food that one consumes. For the vast majority
of people, there is no need to put any limits on fruit
and vegetable intake. In fact, most healthcare practitioners
and dieticians encourage significantly higher consumption
of these foods than most people currently consume. Whole,
unprocessed grains and legumes (peas, beans and lentils)
can also be eaten with little restriction by most people.
These unrefined, natural whole foods are packed with
flavor and nutrition while containing virtually no fat
and few calories.
Where problems start occurring is when
processed and refined foods are introduced into the
diet. These foods tend to contain high amounts of fat
(including harmful trans-fatty acids), large amounts
of sodium (according to a recent study, 90% of all dietary
sodium comes from processed foods!) which is not only
unhealthful but causes water retention and bloating,
and little to no fiber which adds bulk that protects
our colon while filling us up, not out. Therefore, when
planning meals, it is important to take into consideration
not only what you need to add to your diet, but also
what you need to eliminate.
Oftentimes, people eat "unconsciously."
In other words, people eat while doing other things
(such as watching television, driving, sitting at the
computer) and are unaware of how much food they are
putting in their mouths. Typically, "unconscious eaters"
are munching on processed snack foods, cakes, cookies,
soda pop or candy. Analyze your eating and snacking
habits to see where you might be adding unnecessary
fat and calories to your diet and displacing more wholesome
foods. To do this, keep a food diary and keep track
of everything (yes, EVERYthing) you eat over the course
of several weeks. Weigh or measure the food so you know
with precision what quantities to write down. Include
beverages, snacks, cooking and salad oils, and even
condiments. You may be very surprised to discover what
foods your diet is centered around and what other foods
you've consumed very little of. This will help guide
you with regard to which foods need to be increased
in your diet (fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes)
and which should be drastically reduced or eliminated
(refined and processed baked goods, margarine, oils,
chips, cookies, etc.).
My book Vegan
Vittles contains a concise but thorough overview
of vegan nutrition written by Suzanne Havala, RD, a
widely respected authority on vegan and vegetarian diets.
I also included a number of meal plans to help get people
started on the vegan way of eating. In addition, my
cookbooks provide the number of servings for each recipe
and supply nutritional information so you know exactly
how much fat and how many calories you are ingesting.
Remember, the number of fat grams and calories per meal
are less significant than the overall amount of fat
and calories you consume throughout the day. Once again,
a food diary will help you keep track of all that you
are eating so you can become more conscious of how to
plan your meals.
If you have other weight-related concerns
or health problems, be sure to consult your physician
or healthcare practitioner before starting a rigorous
change in diet and exercise. If you need more in-depth
information relating to your individual nutritional
requirements, contact a registered dietician who is
familiar with vegan diets. This way she or he can tailor
your diet and meal plans to meet your own special needs.
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