Healthy Hollywood: Fab Food Friday – Veg Out Like Olivia Wilde!

Olivia Wilde, Russell Brand, Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway are just a few of Hollywood’s beautiful people who say no to meat. Even former fast-food junkie President Bill Clinton has taken on a vegan diet to be more heart healthy.

Ever think of joining the veggie pact?

Healthy Hollywood favors an aspiring vegetarian diet – I go meatless most nights – and have all good intentions of being a vegetarian 24/7, but I find it hard to resist the occasional juicy steak. I will keep on trying though! As I know, being a vegetarian is healthier on many fronts and helps keep our bodies lean.

Right now is a great time to give a plant-based diet a go! October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, a time that reminds us to try and add a few meatless meals into our day. After all, studies do indicate a vegetarian diet has many advantages. “Focusing on foods that are real, whole and plant-based allows you to fuel your body throughout the entire day without the side effects of excess calorie and fat consumption,” points out nutritionist Tracy Wilczek, of the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami. “The fiber in plant-based foods helps to fill you up, while the perfect delivery and combination of vitamins, minerals, natural sugars, water and antioxidants give your body the proper fuel without overloading the system,” adds Tracy.

Instead of shocking your system by removing all animal products at once, Tracy suggests adding more plant-based foods into meals and snacks you already eat. “Choose more whole grains to replace refined ones (oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, etc…start every dinner with a salad.” Remember – baby steps are always easier when trying to modify a longtime habit.

Don’t worry about not getting enough protein in a vegetarian – that’s a common myth. “Most people are under the impression that protein only comes from animal sources, and therefore feel the need to consume it multiple times a day. Protein, however, is also found in many plant-based foods as well as beans, legumes, soy products, whole grains, and in lesser amounts in vegetables and fruits…but the smaller amounts of protein in these foods consumed in many serving during the day add up,” reminds Tracy!

So, what does a typical vegetarian meal look like?

Here’s a typical day’s menu at the Pritikin Longevity Center –

Breakfast: Oatmeal (made with soymilk or water), lots of berries or other fruit.

Snack: A cup of lentil stew and/or piece of fruit (both options are portable and easy with a little planning).

Lunch: A large salad made with any combination of veggies (spinach, mixed greens, cucumbers, peppers, shallot, tomatoes, jicama, dill, balsamic vinegar); sliced mango.

Snack: No-salt-added hummus with veggie sticks and/or piece of fruit or Sweet Potato Apple Salad.

Dinner: To begin, a starter salad; starter veggie soup; grilled tofu or bean dish, steamed broccoli (or any veg of choice), brown rice/baked potato or sweet potato/quinoa/corn/whole wheat couscous (any cooked whole grain); baked apple.

Be sure to consume a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; but also beans, legumes and soy products, as these are primary sources of plant-based protein foods.

For baby steps, try eating 2 weeks out of the month vegetarian and then assess how you feel and your body looks. Happy greening!

For more information on vegetarian meal plans, check out www.pritikin.com.

Copyright 2014 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.