(US) Teens can be healthy vegetarians
- [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle]
(June 6, 2007) — As teenagers begin to exert control and autonomy over
their eating habits, they may choose to avoid meat and meat products.
As parents, you may be concerned about safety and the motives
surrounding your teen's decision.
Most likely, your child is beginning a very rewarding and healthy way
of life. According to the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent
Medicine, teens who choose a vegetarian diet are more likely to meet
national health promotion and disease prevention objectives because
they consume less saturated fat and more fruits and vegetables than
their non-vegetarian peers.
If your child hopes vegetarianism will help with weight control, make
sure he or she chooses a healthful approach. Connect your child with a
registered dietitian who can evaluate the individual and family
medical history, medications and/or lab results, weight, and current
and intended eating and exercise habits. A registered dietitian can
help your child determine a balanced eating program that may or may
not contain animal products but help with weight management and
Once you know the "why" for your teen's vegetarianism, determine the
"how." There are many types of vegetarians:
The stricter the vegetarian, the more necessary it is to make
purposeful food choices. If your child is choosing to be a vegan,
educating your whole family on an approach for proper nutrition will
be necessary. It is no longer the expert consensus that vegetarians
need to combine certain proteins at meals. An overall balanced and
varied approach is adequate. Vegans do need to be careful to include
iron, calcium, protein, vitamins D and B12 and zinc. A registered
dietitian can help with this.
Tami M. Best, R.D., is a certified diabetes educator and chief
clinical dietitian at Thompson Health.
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