by Tandis Bishop

A low-fat vegetarian diet abundant in whole foods, combined with regular exercise, is the basis for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Below are ten tips to keep in mind while trying to achieve your optimal weight:

  1. Replace animal products such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and whole fat dairy with whole grains, vegetables, and legumes.
  2. Eliminate the refined carbohydrates from your diet such as white flour, white sugar, corn syrup and white rice. Replace these with whole grains such as brown rice, oats, wheat berries, quinoa, barley, and sprouted whole wheat breads.
    • Refined carbohydrates are about four times higher in calories than in whole foods; therefore more calories are consumed when eating refined food. Carbohydrates in their pure (refined) form are about four calories per gram. But carbohydrates in the whole form such as brown rice are about one calorie per gram.
  3. Consume foods in their whole form such as whole grains and whole vegetables, rather than in a processed form. Plant foods in their whole food form contain the fiber, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that processed food normally lacks. The result is better digestion, absorption and utilization of the food eaten.
  4. Replace calorie-dense beverages such as soft drinks, fruit juice, beer, etc. with water. Sugar-free beverages such as Diet soda should also be avoided as these have been linked to higher obesity rates and weight gain.1
  5. Eat whole fruits in moderation. Limit intake of tropical fruits such as mangoes, bananas, and pineapples as they are higher in simple sugars and are higher in calories. Better choices of fruit include berries, citrus fruits, apples, grapes, etc.
  6. Limit intake of processed foods such as baked goods, canned meats and packaged food. These foods tend to be laden with sugar, fat, and refined flour.
  7. Reduce your intake of fat in general, including vegetable oils, to about 10% of your daily calories. This means cooking with less or no oil, having less oil in your salad dressing, etc. Vegetable oils are also high in calories and can easily be consumed in high amounts.
  8. Eat a fresh green salad everyday. Leafy greens are high in calcium and fiber.
  9. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, 2 -3 times a week. Exercise will increase your metabolism (the fire in your body that burns calories) so you can even burn calories while you sleep.
  10. Understand that this is a lifestyle change as opposed to a fad diet. In order to lose excess weight and keep it off, you must gradually change your eating habits; this is not an overnight process. You can go at your own pace. The closer you are to following these standards, the easier it will be to lose excess weight.
Footnotes: 

Down to Earth is here to help you in reaching your weight-loss goals. Take advantage of our free monthly vegetarian cooking classes and quarterly vegetarian nutrition classes (Visit www.downtoearth.org for more details). References:

  1. CBS NEWS Article: “Can Diet Soda Make You Gain Weight?” Jan 4, 2007 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/04/earlyshow/contributors/emilyse...