While I was in San Francisco I met Brieze Keeley. Brieze is a Holistic Healthy Counselor, so I asked her if she would take a look at my food diary and give me a critique. Brieze was kind enough to write up the below guest post for me, dissecting my diet. Hope it is helpful.
Overall, Julie’s vegetarian diet is quite healthy, especially when one considers her food budget. She eats an average of five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day, has a whole grain such as oatmeal or brown rice at most meals, and features sensible portions (1-2 Tbsp or ¼ Cup) of healthy fats in her daily diet, including nut butters, avocados, and yogurt (fuller fat varieties).
In addition, Julie eats at least one ½ cup serving of plant-based proteins such as beans (mostly lentils or pintos) every day. She also eats yogurt regularly, which can be an excellent vegetarian source of protein as well. (I would caution anyone eating yogurt to choose the Plain or Unsweetened varieties to avoid high levels of sugar, food dyes, and other unsavory ingredients. To sweeten it, simply add a teaspoon of a natural sweetener like honey, which is also high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants when unrefined.)
Ensuring an adequate protein supply is very important for anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet, as protein deficiencies can occur over time. In addition to beans and low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds offer some protein as well, so I’m pleased to see them regularly featured in Julie’s diet.
Finally, Julie’s food choices have the added benefit of being mostly local and seasonal, as she does the majority of her shopping at the Farmer’s Market. Owing to this and to the minimal level of processed foods she is eating, Julie’s diet is likely much higher in nutrients than the typical American diet. Indeed, many people (the budget conscious and otherwise) would do well to try out a modified version of her experiment. For some, it could mean not only a fatter wallet, but a slimmer waistline as well.
Nonetheless, there are a few suggestions I would make to Julie and others like her. When possible, she should try to include more variety in her food choices from day to day. I realize this could be difficult on a tight food budget, but some experimentation may be possible especially during summer, when produce variety is most abundant.
For instance, I would like to see more varieties and servings of leafy green vegetables in Julie’s diet. In addition to kale and broccoli, she could try spinach, Swiss chard, and dandelion greens. Not only are these greens cleansing and rich in different nutrients than her staples, they are also abundant and affordable at most farmers’ markets during the summer.
The same holds true for other areas of her diet: she could try millet instead of brown rice, for example, or black beans instead of pinto beans. In general, variety is important to ensure an adequate supply of a wide range of nutrients, rather than an oversupply of just a few.
If a restricted budget does not allow for much variety, I would advise her to add a liquid multivitamin to her daily regimen (such as Liquid Source of Life Multivitamin). Julie might also do well to add more Omega-3 Fatty Acids to her diet (fish oils are best, though flax oil also works if she doesn’t want to eat any animal products) and a Vitamin-D3 supplement, both of which can be hard to find in sufficient quantities through diet alone.
In addition, I notice that Julie tends to graze on smaller meals throughout the day. This may work well for her. Others, however, may need to sit down to three square meals (with a snack thrown in somewhere, perhaps), to avoid overeating.
Most importantly, I’d like to remind readers that no one diet works for everyone. Julie’s diet is a high-carbohydrate, lower protein, and lower fat vegetarian diet. For her, this diet seems an excellent choice, as evidenced by her thriving health. Yet one’s response to such a diet can vary widely based on ancestry, blood type, and metabolic character (fast, medium, or slow burning). People with Type O blood, for example, may develop issues ranging from chronic fatigue and weight gain to more serious health problems like Candidiasis, hair loss, and dry skin in response to such a diet.
Therefore, my advice is to trust and listen to your body. If you find that a vegetarian diet suits you, go for it! If you have taken on such a diet and find yourself feeling chronically unwell, this diet may not be right for you. You may have to include small amounts of animal protein in your diet and watch your carbohydrate intake more closely.
Finally, I would also encourage everyone to get outside and take walks when possible and experiment with different forms of exercise such as yoga or swimming. These habits can do wonders to reduce stress and improve health. If you are interested in learning more about these topics, try reading Your Body Knows Best, by Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S, or feel free to visit my website: www.briezekeeley.com. Best of luck!