I am 40, 5'4" and currently weigh 220lbs. I am concerned about my weight for health reasons, and I'd like to fit into a normal size pair of jeans in this life time.
Additionally I'd like to be healthy enough to play in the yard occasionally with my 10 year old son.
I had the opportunity two years ago to eat vegetarian for a week...I truly enjoyed it, and thought I might like to become vegetarian.
I'm now considering a change to a vegetarian diet, but have reservations about going full blown vegan.
I'm also concerned about the costs of vegetarian vs. "regular" diets.
Also how do you go about committing to a vegetarian diet in a house full of meat eaters? - M.A.
You bring up a number of issues - let's take them one at a time.
Vegetarian Weight Loss: It can be easier to lose weight on a vegetarian diet, but it's also easy to gain weight, depending on what you eat. If you substitute large helpings of cheese, nuts, eggs and soy products for meat, and otherwise don't change your diet, becoming a vegetarian won't help.
On the other hand, switching to a healthier diet, with more whole grains and veggies, and less calories - plus exercise more - and you'll tend to lose weight, whether or not you are vegetarian.
Full Blown Vegan: In spite of the ethical and health benefits of a vegan diet, and the fact that vegans do tend to be thinner, I agree it's a bit much for most people to go completely vegan right off the bat, or make any sudden full scale dietary changes.
In my opinion, it's always better to change your diet gradually.
Becoming a vegetarian in a house full of meat eaters: That's not as much of a problem as the general unhealthiness of a meat based diet. It's not just that people eat meat, but that they eat far too much meat, and not nearly enough, or often any, of whole grains, veggies, fruit, and plant based protein. If you could change your family's diet in that respect, it would make your life easier. Read Veg and NonVeg Eat Together for ideas.
The Expense: Again, it isn't a question of vegetarian vs non-vegetarian. A nutritionally superior diet can be more expensive than one that isn't. For example, organic food costs more. Better quality anything tends to cost more.
BUT, processed food (frozen, canned, packaged - pre-cooked food, and fast food, or restaurant meals) always costs more, whether vegetarian, organic or not. And costs you your health - you are what you eat, etc.
It costs less to make your own food from scratch, with fresh quality ingredients, as well as being more satisfying and nourishing on all levels. And you have complete control over what you eat, which makes dieting easier.
I'm not an expert on weight loss; there are many aspects to consider, and I don't know what might apply to you. Also, you've indicated that this isn't just a matter of a few pounds for you - it's a serious health issue, on many levels.
Please find a professional who can help you to put together a diet and exercise plan that will work for you to gradually lose weight, and control your weight over the long haul.
Gaining cooperation and support from your family would be a big plus, and again, you might need help with that, as in counselling.
As you say, the important thing for you is to lose weight, get healthy and improve your physical fitness. Whether or not you become a vegetarian in the process is up to you, but a lot of doctors and dieticians agree it's a good direction to take for weight management.
For vegetarian nutrition info, I recommend reading The New Becoming Vegetarian by Melina and Davis, with a chapter on vegetarian weight control.
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian