What does it actually mean to eat healthy? Well, the secret of a healthy diet is simple: Give all food groups their place, and eat the right amount of everything. Meaning you choose your food in such a manner that your body gets all the nutrients it needs, but not more. Calories are not bad. You need them, without them you would have no energy. It’s too many calories what is bad.
Although vegetarians are much less likely to suffer from overweight because of consuming way less animal fats, they still run a risk of eating more calories than necessary or getting too little of certain nutrients, e.g. proteins. The vegetarian diet in general is very healthy, but in order to get its full benefits you still need to ensure that you eat balanced.
What now to eat for the whole day to make sure you get exactly what you need and not more? Here are the top 7 foods that will help you to stick to a healthy and balanced vegetarian diet:
vegetables and fruit
nuts and seeds
These are wheat, rice, barley, corn, oat products, rye, millet and buckwheat. They are high in complex carbohydrates, meaning they give you lasting energy for the day without negatively affecting your blood sugar level.
2. Grain products
Pasta, bread and muesli fall into this category. That’s another group providing you with the energy source of carbohydrates. Prefer whole grain products (whole grain bread or pasta) to refined ones (white bread, standard pasta) as they contain many complex carbohydrates, just like the original grains.
3. Vegetables and fruit
Fruit and vegetables are one of our most important sources of important vitamins and minerals. Many of them are also high in fiber (which has no nutritional value but is good for your digestion). Most vegetables are low in calories, and the sugar type fruit contains affects your blood sugar level much less then refined sugar. Given these facts, you can consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables without having to worry much about calories.
4. Dairy products
Milk, yogurt and cheese are excellent sources of nutrients, since milk contains almost all nutrients we need in ideal combination. Besides many vitamins and minerals (especially calcium) these animal products are a great protein provider since they contain all essential amino acids.
That means: peas, beans, lentils, soybeans and peanuts. These are another source of protein, but (just like grains) they contain only certain amino acids. Combined with grains, though, they can provide you with the proteins your body needs, making them a very important food for vegetarians and especially vegans.
6. Nuts and seeds
Whether it’s pecan, hazel or walnuts, cashews or almonds, sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds, they are all an important source of proteins. Since the vegetarian diet is rather low in animal proteins, you need to get your proteins from other foods. Nuts and sees are a great supplement for your muesli or for salad, but they also make an excellent snack.
Eggs have a nutritional value that is just as high as the one of milk. They too contain a unique mix of essential nutrients.
To keep a healthy balance between these seven food groups, you should mainly eat grains and grain product as well as vegetables and fruit, since these are the foods that are high in nutrients but fairly low in calories. Dairy products and nuts contain rather much fat and should be eaten in moderate amounts only to avoid excess calories. As for dairy, you may also opt for low-fat or fat-free products. Also keep eggs and legumes on a moderate level. If you follow these guidelines, then you can be sure your vegetarian diet is healthy and balanced, giving your body all the nutrients it needs without overloading it with calories.