How to Cope with a Teenage Vegetarian

For a teenager, a planned vegetarian diet is presumably healthy. This will only give them a chance of eating and living healthy. So to speak, there is nothing wrong with being one as long as they have their diet planned in accordance to what their body needs. But what if your teenage child decides to be a vegetarian?

First of all, what are vegetarians? A vegetarian, in a general sense, is someone who does not eat meat. In fact, there are actually three types of vegetarians.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians or those that eat products with milk like cheese, yogurt and eggs. Meat strictly excluded.

Lacto-vegetarians, on the other hand, do not eat eggs nor meat, only milk products.

Vegans are those that strictly eat only plant foods. They will not have anything that came from an animal for a meal. That includes dairy products, honey, eggs and even gelatin which comes from bones or tissue of animals.

Among these three categories, there are those that choose to be semi-vegetarians. They may eat fish or poultry but no red meat. However, they may eat meat every once in a while.

So if you teenage child chooses to be a vegetarian, ask what kind of vegetarian he or she may want to be. That given, teach them in planning to get their meals so as not to miss getting the right nutrition for the day. They have to remember that they need a bit more of the vitamins and minerals than adults such as calcium. Iron is best for teenage girls as they are menstruating. In addition, you may ask them to seek the help of a dietitian to aid them in planning their everyday diet.

There are cases in which a teen only becomes a vegetarian to lose weight or even to hide eating disorders like anorexia.

Still, pursuing a vegetarian diet will be healthy among teenagers since the food that they will eat contains lots of fiber. Despite the fact that they eat large amounts of it, they do not get calories. But it is best that they get the kind of diet unlike that of baby vegetarians. That is because the amount of vitamins and minerals they need are much larger for their developing bodies.

So if your teenage child pursues a vegetarian diet, be mindful that they include this in their diet:

Calcium from breakfast cereals, orange juice, and soy milk that is calcium-fortified. Foods that naturally have this are nuts, seeds, tofu, legumes and some green leafy veggies. These are good for those who do not eat milk products.

Vitamin D is also recommended to those who do not eat milk products. Cereals or soy milk that are fortified with such are among the best examples. A regular dose of sunlight will also provide their bodies with this vitamin. Taking supplements is advised if there is inadequate of Vitamin D.

Iron for vegetarians can be obtained from dried beans, lentils and peas. Grain products that are fortified with iron is also a best example. For increasing iron absorption, take Vitamin C.

Vitamin B12 is found only in animals. So, it is better to take soy milk and cereals fortified with this vitamin.

Protein can be found in legumes and beans.

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, walnuts and canola oil. Not to mention in some green leafy vegetables.

Zinc for vegetarians are found in whole-grain breads, cooked dry beans, soy, vegetables and lentils.