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Teen Health

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FAQ: Vegetarian Diet for Teens

Will I lose weight?

Vegetarian diets tend to be low in fat and high in fiber. This can be good for people trying to lose weight. But if you are still growing -- or you are already at a healthy weight -- it can be a problem. Use these tips to maintain a healthy weight:

Make sure you get enough omega-3 fats. Vegetarians (and especially vegans) sometimes don’t get enough omega-3 fats. These fats are good for your heart. They can be found in eggs and fish if you eat them. Otherwise, try soy milk or breakfast bars that are fortified with DHA, an omega-3 acid.

Consider seeing a dietitian. A dietitian can help you find healthy vegetarian foods that work for your age and weight.

Talk to your doctor. Your doctor can keep an eye on your growth and make sure you are getting the right amount of calories.

What should I do when I go out to eat?

Sticking to your vegetarian diet can be tricky when you eat out. Here are some tips that will make going to a restaurant with your friends and family easier:

Avoid fast-food restaurants. Popular chains sometimes have vegetarian options, but you will find healthier and more varied choices elsewhere.

Decide ahead of time how flexible you want to keep your diet. Are you OK eating something that has touched meat while cooking? Would you eat a soup made from a meat stock? Decide on your comfort zone before you go out to eat.

Double-check with the waiter before you order. Some foods that appear to be vegetarian aren’t. To be safe, check that your dish does not contain meat before ordering.

Be creative. A lot of times restaurants can leave out the meat or use a meatless substitute. You can also order salads or combine side dishes to make a vegetarian meal.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 22, 2013
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