Knowing Your Vegetarian Food Groups
All food can be classified into different food groups, and this is important as it assists us with eating a healthy, balanced diet. The sole purpose of eating is for our bodies to receive:
Nutrients in order to grow and,
Energy to carry out daily functions
Firstly, we need to be familiar with food groups, as well as the number of servings from each food group we should aim to include on a daily basis.
Note: the following information should be used as a guideline for an average adult adopting a vegetarian diet.[1,2] Please consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist for individualised dietary advice.
To give you a better idea of what types of food fall under each good group, here are some examples of:
Grains and grain products:
Barley, bread, cereal, couscous, flour, noodles, oats, pasta, rice
Try to choose wholewheat and multi-grain options if available
Aparagus, bamboo shoots, beetroot, bok choy, brussel sprouts, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, peas, potato, pumpkin, spinach, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato, zucchini
Try to include one green AND one orange-coloured vegetable everyday
Apple, apricot, banana, berries, cherries, figs, grapes, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, lychee, mango, nectarine, orange, papaya, peach, pear, tomato, watermelon
Remember to include vitamin C-rich fruits
Meat substitutes and legumes:
Beans, chickpeas, frozen vegetarian meat products, lentils, soya mince, tofu
Not only are these good sources of protein and dietary fibre, but they also keep for longer and are inexpensive compared to meat products
Nuts and seeds:
Almonds, cashew nuts, chestnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds/linseeds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecan nuts, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts
A mixed handful of these a day make a great snack or addition to your morning cereal or porridge
Dairy and eggs:
Cheese, eggs, milk and milk powders, soy milk, yoghurt
Try opting for low fat options where possible
Sugar, alcohol, fats and oils:
Sugar, alcoholic beverages, avocado pear, butter, canola oil, margarine, mayonnaise, olive oil
Limit sugar-rich foods and drinks; stick to your daily alcohol limit; limit butter, hard margarines, lard, shortening
Mahan K, Escott-Stump S. Krause's Food & Nutrition Therapy. 12th ed. Saunders Elsevier; 2008.
Health Canada. Canada's Food Guide. [cited 8 April 2016] . Available from: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/
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