- More grains and carbs.
I often notice that my patients on plant-based diets are eating more high-carbohydrate foods, which tend to be stored as fat and fuel. This often inhibits weight loss, causes fatigue, irritability, weakness, hunger, and thus, more sugar and food cravings. They are often eating more potatoes, rice, pastas, pizzas, cereals, sugars, desserts, pastries, and breads. For a healthy weight, I encourage patients to get about 150 grams of carbohydrate a day; now, of course, this number gets smaller if you’re battling diabetes, pre-diabetes, or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). The goal is to learn to eat whole grain and unrefined carbohydrates like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. Healthy carbohydrates tend to be higher in fiber, which is what you need to have healthy elimination. So keep in mind you want to eat at least 35 grams of fiber a day through plant-based fiber sources.
- Not getting enough veggies.
It may seem counterintuitive, but not all vegetarians are eating enough vegetables. This is often what I see in my practice. You should be getting about seven to nine servings of vegetables each day. You need to get your essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants through your greens! A green smoothie each day is a great addition to get more veggies in your diet. My rule of thumb is three veggies to one fruit to balance out sugar levels.
- Compensating with dairy.
Vegetarians are always being told to make sure they’re getting enough dairy in their diet to keep their calcium and vitamin D ratio high to protect their bones. So, they often indulge in cheese, milk, yogurts, ice cream, and sour cream. However, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dairy is not mandatory in a vegetarian diet. They can meet these requirements through plant-based vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, and okra. In fact, dairy increases the risk of osteoporosis and can contribute to numerous cancers like ovarian and prostate as well as autoimmune conditions.