Vegetarian Journal 2008 Issue 2
SUZANNE HAVALA HOBBS DrPH, MS, RD
QUESTION: "I'm a vegetarian, but
I have weight to lose. What can I do for myself? I can’t afford a personal trainer or chef."
ANSWER: In the ideal world, we’d have access to a personal trainer,
chef, and dietitian. That’s because it takes a high level of commitment— and support—to eat well,
get into shape, and stay fit. But even if you had the means, it can be a challenge to find qualified, competent health professionals
and fit frequent appointments into a busy schedule.
That leaves a do-it-yourself approach as the only practical solution for most people, and you can do some of it yourself
very effectively. If you have health problems, though, get advice from your health care provider before
making any substantial changes in your diet or exercise habits.
Most people, however, can benefit from some simple, supportive measures that can be self-imposed
without much - if any - technical expertise. Here’s where to start:
- View the whole picture.
Keep a food diary for a period of days or
weeks—or indefinitely. Logging what you do on a regular basis
will make you more aware and careful about what you’re eating.
Keeping a log of not only what, where, and when you
eat, but also how you feel, who you are with, and how much
exercise you do, can make you aware of patterns of behavior
to target for change. For a lowcost food diary, a pen and a
spiral-bound notebook will do. Online diaries are also available for a fee.
- Get reliable information.
Along with Vegetarian Journal, my favorites include Nutrition
Action Healthletter, published by the Center for Science
in the Public Interest, and Nutrition Source, a website
maintained by the Harvard University Department of Nutrition.
- Make a plan, and monitor your progress.
Think through a set of steps for behavior change and a realistic timeline for
achieving them. Take a brisk, hour-long daily walk on your
lunch break? Eat at the table instead of in front of the TV?
Measure success by new skills you master, behaviors you change, and the trend over
time on the scale or by how your clothes fit.
- Include gentle excerise.
No matter what your fitness level, most people can engage in gentle
stretching and strengthening exercises, such as yoga and Pilates.
- Get support.
Join a local vegetarian society. Walk or take a cooking class with a friend.
Surround yourself with people who are committed to the same
lifestyle changes, and you’ll find it easier to make progress.
The do-it-yourself approach may not always substitute for the help of a qualified health professional.
But there’s a lot you can do on your own affordably and effectively. And that’s a great place to start.
- Cheesecake: Not Just for Dessert Anymore.
- Chef Nancy Berkoff makes cheesecake part of any course.
- An Updated Guide to Soy, Rice, Nut, and Other Non-Dairy Milks
- Dietetic Intern Stephanie Gall, MS, RD, brings you all the facts.
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About L-Cysteine But Were Afraid to Ask
- Jeanne Yacoubou, MS, takes a closer look at the amino acid.
- Vegan Fare from India
- Sunita Pant Bansal shares some basic dishes from her country.
- Veggie-Friendly Literature for Kids
- Check out recommendations from The VRG Parents' E-Mail List.
- Vegan Rocker Ted Leo Tours the World
- Bobby Allyn interviews the indie rock veteran and vegan activist.
- Note from the Coordinators
- Letters to the Editors
- Notes from The VRG Scientific Department
- Vegan Cooking Tips
- All About Oven-Frying, by Chef Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD, CCE
- Veggie Bits
- Scientific Update
- Book Reviews
- Vegetarian Action
- Everything Natural, by Bobby Allyn
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