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Unhealthy vegetarians used as justification for eating meat?

by in Diet, Health 06/12/2013

As vegetarians and vegans, we take pride in our decision to place life before taste. Our relationship with food is completely free of guilt.

We also know that giving up meat doesn’t mean we give up on taste, quite the contrary. However, because there’s no guilt, with the vast amount of vegetarian options available to us we may overindulge. When this happens we need to remind ourselves that in addition to our animal friends, we also need to put our own lives before taste.

As Benjamin Franklin once said,

Eat to live, don’t live to eat.

Yet many of us are doing just that; living to eat. Experts believe that up to 75% of overeating may be due to reasons other than physical hunger. As vegetarians we have a great relationship with food and show the world with anyone can have great health without meat. But we lose that example if we succumb to poor food choices and emotional eating.

I’ve read recent articles by health “experts” saying that the vegetarian diet is not as healthy as everyone thinks, pointing to the number of overweight vegetarians as proof! When I reflect on this it makes me feel sad; people using overweight vegetarians as justification that it’s okay to eat meat!

Young woman eating cupcakes

Well, I want to do something about this! In my own life I want to be an example of excellent health and fitness. I found these tips on emotional and habitual eating that I think are very helpful and I want to share them with you:

Be Aware of the Signs

  1. Understand how emotional eating works

    Emotional eating occurs when you use food to manage your feelings, rather than to satisfy your hunger. This can trigger guilt and create a cycle where you eat because you feel bad and feel bad because you eat. Positive feelings can also play a role if you associate food with celebrating.

  2. Keep a balanced perspective

    It’s okay to take pleasure in food and enjoy sharing it with others. Concerns arise only when emotional eating interferes with your health and wellbeing.

  3. Ask yourself if you feel out of control

    You may have lost control of your eating habits if you want to make healthier choices but keep backsliding. Be honest with yourself if you resolve to have yogurt for breakfast but wind up stopping off for a bagel on the way to work.

  4. Notice your cravings

    A strong desire for specific dishes is a common symptom of emotional eating. If you’re actually hungry, everything on the menu is likely to sound appealing. When you’re depressed over a recent breakup, ice cream may be the only thing you want to order.

  5. Evaluate your hunger levels

    Another danger sign is eating when you already feel full. Slow down, take a break from eating and decide if you really need another helping of mashed potatoes./li>

  6. Consider your family history

    The way you eat may be grounded in patterns that started in childhood. Maybe you were rewarded with a homemade cake when you got good grades. Maybe every year during the holidays you overindulged. When you were young it had to effect on your figure, but now…

  7. Recognize and avoid bad habits

    You have an early lunch one day and in the late afternoon get a snack from the office vending machine. No problem, but if this happens a few days in a row it could become a habit, even on days you eat lunch on time or late. And if you’re getting a snack from the vending machine each day, when it runs out of the light snacks you may be tempted to get a candy bar or unhealthy chips. Better to recognize this as a habit and not let it start to begin with.

Develop a Healthier Relationship with Food

  1. Substitutions

    Cravings can be used to benefit you if you reach for nutritious alternatives. Homemade pita triangles dipped in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (pure EVO–watch out for fakes!) can replace french fries with ketchup. Indulge in fresh fruit when you want dessert.

  2. Control portion sizes

    Eliminating all your favorite treats can cause a backlash from deprivation. A sliver of pie can make you just as happy as a big slice and savor every bite.

  3. Seek distractions

    Engage in productive activities that will take your mind off your stomach. Go for a walk, read a book, or do some housework. My husband uses outdoor sports and video games; works really well for him.

  4. Develop positive coping techniques

    Comfort foods deliver very short-term relief. Remember that before you reach for a cookie or doughnut; after a few bites the pleasure is gone and you’re back where you were a few minutes ago. Find more effective methods for managing daily stress, such as meditation, music or physical exercise.

  5. Avoid temptation

    If you find your favorite cookies to be too irresistible, stop buying them! This one is easier than you might think: out of sight, out of mind.

  6. Get adequate sleep

    Being chronically tired makes you weak and more vulnerable to overeating. Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. Take a warm bath before bed to raise your body temperature if you have trouble falling asleep.

  7. Reward your good behavior

    Reinforce the positive changes you make in your behavior. Set realistic goals and praise yourself when you attain them. Buy yourself something special or visit your favorite museum.

  8. Keep a journal

    It’s easier to spot patterns when you write down when and why you eat. You may notice that you snack on potato chips when you’re bored, even though you’ve just eaten a full meal.

  9. Seek help

    If you find you need more help to change the way you eat, talk with friends or an expert. Counseling may clarify the underlying issues you need to address. Nutritionists can advise you on a diet that will work with your individual lifestyle.

I hope you find these methods helpful in keeping emotional eating in check and you in full control.

In the next few weeks I’ll share more information on how we can make better food choices and minimize the carbs and sweets. Eat to live, not live to eat!

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