Nutritional Assessment (Vegetarian)

A 31 year old woman came to see me after attending a Buddhist retreat where she lived as a vegetarian for 2 weeks. This lady had been living a fairly destructive life prior to the retreat and was really keen to continue with the newly adopted lifestyle that left her feeling so renewed.

As typical with a lot of vegetarians, an analysis of her diet showed obvious long term concerns with an assortment of minerals (iron, b12, zinc & folic acid mainly) and poor levels of protein (and in this case) essential fatty acids (efa’s).

The majority of this consultation was based around information, therefore aiding the patient to make educated decisions regarding her food choices and macronutrient timing. Despite her minimisation of refined foods, she was feeling quite lethargic most of the time and displayed obvious signs of anxiety / depression.

The new diet: (1 day example)

Breakfast: ½ cup of carmens muesli with ½ cup of fresh Vitasoy rice milk & 30g of vanilla whey protein isolate (shaken through milk and poured over muesli.

1 tsp of concentrated liquid fish oil.

Mid Morning: 1 cup of seasonal fruit with 150g of Greek yoghurt and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Lunch (salad): 50g of organic goat fetta, 1 soft boiled egg,  baby spinach leaves, rocket, spanish onion, semi-dried fat free tomatoes, black olives, red capsicum and a lemon juice / olive oil vinegarette + ½ cup (cooked weight) of quinoa (stirred throughout to add texture to salad)

Mid Afternoon: nut / seed blend (60g) – mixed nut kernels (raw), sunflower seeds, pepitas & roasted chic peas, or a home made spelt muffin + a cup of green tea

Dinner: Marinated tofu stir fry (tofu flash fried in extra virgin coconut oil) with mixed vegetables.

Nb: the above example demonstrates a single day out of a 7 day plan. It highlights regularity of protein ingestion, and significant inclusion of monounsaturated / cholesterol free saturated fats and high potency essential fatty acids (as specific for energy & depression).

At our follow-up appointment 6 weeks later, the patient was really pleased with her food choices, had a significant increase in energy & noted improved moods. She described her breakfast (as shown) as her favourite breakfast ever!!

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