Semi-vegetarians have taken a step toward wellness by limiting intake of a high-fat food. Semi-vegetarians, or flexitarians, limit their intake of meat or certain kinds of meat. They might eat meat only a couple of times a week, or prohibit red meat, according to KidsHealth.org. Vegetarians have a lower risk of obesity, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, some forms of cancer and diabetes mellitus, states the American Heart Association. If you are a semi-vegetarian you must take special care to consume certain nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
If you consume a vegetarian diet you tend to eat fewer calories, according to MedlinePlus.com. However, vegetarian diets are only low-calorie if fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes make up the bulk of your meals. Like non-vegetarians, semi-vegetarians should limit high-fat, high-calorie foods like sweets and fried foods. Instead of substituting cheese or peanut butter for meat, try making meat substitutes, vegetables or beans the focus of your meal. Limit fried foods. Instead, prepare foods by steaming, boiling, grilling or roasting.
If you eat the right foods, semi-vegetarian diets can be low in fat and saturated fat. Restricting meat limits fat in your diet, but you also have to watch other high-fat, high-calorie foods to reap the benefits. Choose low-fat dairy products to further reduce fat in your diet. As a semi-vegetarian you need to be careful to include enough protein in your diet. The American Heart Association advises that vegetarians should vary their intake of protein to meet dietary needs. Protein is found in nuts, peanut butter, tofu, beans, seeds, soy milk, grains, cereals and vegetables, according to KidsHealth.org. On days you aren't consuming meat, get protein from soybeans, tofu, peanuts, seeds, seaweed, eggs, milk and cheese. If your diet consists of complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and legumes, you should get enough fiber.
Vitamins and Minerals
As a semi-vegetarians you need to take special care to include enough calcium, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D and zinc in your diet. Dried beans; enriched products; spinach; dried fruits; sea vegetables like nori, wakame and dulse; and brewer's yeast are all good sources of iron. Vitamin B-12 is found naturally only in animal sources. To get enough, eat fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages and some brands of brewer's yeast. Eggs are a good source, but monitor intake because they are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Ask your doctor if you need to take a vitamin B-12 supplement. Try to spend 15 minutes outside each day to get enough vitamin D. Get calcium from cornmeal, fortified cereals, radishes, leeks, collards, turnip greens, spinach, sesame butter and seeds, almonds, tofu prepared with calcium sulfate, cheese and milk. Get zinc from shellfish, fortified cereals, shiitake mushrooms, seeds, cashews and pecans. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to get enough of all essential vitamins and minerals.
Buy vegetarian cookbooks or search the Internet for meal ideas. When eating out, opt for salads, appetizers, bean-based meals, veggie burgers and soy cheese pizza. Ethnic restaurants often have vegetarian options. Try substituting beans for beef in meals such as chili. Use mushrooms as a meat substitute in sandwiches. Add red peppers to a sandwich for fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B-6 and folate. When making pasta, add vegetables to increase vitamins and minerals, and nuts or mushrooms to increase folate and protein. Make tofu the focus of your meal to get protein, calcium, phosphorus, selenium and manganese. Try lentil soup for fiber, vitamin A and iron.
Snack on nuts for a good source of protein. Try dried fruits or vegetables and low-fat dip to get a variety of vitamins and minerals. Popcorn, trail mix and string cheese are all good snack ideas for semi-vegetarians. If you snack on fruits, vary your intake to get different types of vitamins. Make smoothies with yogurt to get protein, vitamin B-12, pantothenic acid, potassium, zinc, riboflavin, calcium and phosphorus. Try pita chips and hummus. Hummus is a good source of folate, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Limit salty snacks to monitor sodium intake.