29 March 2012

Pizza, pasta and bread, oh my: Are you a carbotarian?

There are vegetarians, vegans, fruitarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians, raw foodists and the list goes on. But, have you ever heard of a “carbotarian?” Maybe you’re one of them.

A “carbotarian” is a vegetarian that consumes pasta, bread, pizza, and other high carbohydrate foods. This is what is commonly known as the “unhealthy vegetarian.”

In college, I lived with a vegetarian who did not eat vegetables. Her diet consisted of bread, cheese, tomato sauce and beer. While on occasion, she would consume protein from soy “chicken” patties and other meat-substitutes, she lived off of pizza and beer.

Let’s face it: it’s hard to be a vegetarian in an omnivorous world – especially on a university campus! Fresh, nutrient rich food isn’t convenient. I think that’s why vegetarians can fall victim to becoming a “carbotarian” without realizing it.

Just because the French fries are there, and they may be vegan, doesn’t mean you should make a meal out of them. We’ve all done it, but don’t let that be your lifestyle.

By overindulging in carbs, you deny your body protein, essential vitamins and nutrients. Simple carbohydrates act like sugar, causing your blood sugar to spike, which could lead to weight gain, diabetes and other ailments.

Here are a few tips to be a healthy, happy vegetarian:

· Watch your carb intake. The USDA Food Pyramid recommends 6 servings of grains per day. For example, one serving equals ½ cup cooked brown rice or one slice of whole-grain bread. At least half of your servings should come from whole grains, which contain more fiber and nutrients.

· Eat a protein source with your grain. It maintains blood sugar levels and helps you feel fuller for longer.

· Eat fresh, raw fruits and vegetables as much as possible, which contain more vitamins and nutrients in their raw form.

You only have one body, take care of it.

Kaitlyn Munro | Tumblr |Facebook | @kaitmunro
Buffalo, New York Kaitlyn is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and minor in Women’s Studies. She worked as a barista at a vegan cafĂ© before landing a job as assignment editor for a TV news station in Buffalo, New York. She's trying to be a “runner" and just signed up to run her first half-marathon in May. Also, she loves food - especially vegan cupcakes.

Photo credit: Katelyn Vajgrt