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Educational Tip

Vegetarian Diet

By Gali Health in partnership with @plentyandwellwithnat, medically reviewed by Kate Schlag, RD

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A style of eating that eliminates meat and meat products from the diet but still contains dairy and eggs.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. How It Came to Be
  2. Let’s Eat
  3. Foods to Steer Clear Of
  4. Vegetarian SW Stuffed Sweet Potato
  5. Flare Friendly Foods
  6. Common Swaps
  7. Weekly Tip
  8. Research

HOW IT CAME TO BE

Vegetarianism has been around for hundreds of years, but it didn’t become mainstream in American life until the 1960s. Vegetarianism grew even more popular in the 1970s, when Francis Moore Lappe published the book “Diet for a Small Planet.” In this book, Lappe advocated for a meatless diet because plant-based foods have much less impact on the environment.

LET’S EAT!

On a vegetarian diet, you can eat all foods except for meat, poultry, and seafood (unless you choose to go the pescatarian route). Unlike being on a vegan diet, you can also still eat dairy.

STEER CLEAR OF

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Collagen
  • Bone broth
  • Gelatin

You can have dairy, eggs, and honey while being vegetarian.

VEGETARIAN SOUTHWEST STUFFED SWEET POTATO

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
  • 2 Tbsp chopped yellow onion
  • 1 Tbsp chopped green onion
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1/3 cup black beans

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash your sweet potato and poke multiple holes in it with a knife.
  2. Place on a foil or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes (or until you can easily poke a fork through it).
  3. While your potato is baking, sauté your yellow onion and bell peppers.
  4. Once the potato is cooked, cut it down the middle and place all other ingredients inside or on top. Enjoy!

FLARE FRIENDLY FOODS

White rice.

Scrambled tofu or eggs with turmeric and salt.

Vegetable broth-based soups.

Smoothie – try cooking (steaming or sautéing) then freezing your fruit (for easier digestion) and blend with smooth nut butter or avocado for healthy fats (if tolerated during flares) and unflavored plant-based protein powder for easy-to-digest protein!

Plain rice cakes with avocado or smooth nut butter.

Ripe banana with smooth nut butter.

Steamed and pureed sweet potato or steamed and pureed carrots.

Any steamed and pureed vegetables that your stomach handles best.

COMMON SWAPS

Swap meat, poultry, and seafood for:

Tofu
Tempeh
Seitan (contains gluten)
Beans
Lentils
Bean or lentil-based pastas
Higher-protein vegetables such as green peas, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, broccoli

WEEKLY TIP

How do you listen to your body when following a specific style of eating? Focus on other aspects of eating, such as the size of your meals, when you eat, how often you eat, and the specific foods you eat for each meal. Even with food restrictions due to medical needs or the style of eating you’re following, you can still eat intuitively by focusing on the other aspects of food consumption.

RESEARCH

Few studies have shown that a vegetarian diet may help to reduce symptoms of IBD, although there are plenty of anecdotes supporting this theory.

Because dysbiosis — an imbalance in the variety and quantities of certain types of bacteria in the gut — has been associated with increased inflammation, researchers have investigated the role that animal products, including meat and poultry, play in promoting IBD symptoms and relapse.

Correlative studies have shown an association between increased animal consumption and a decrease in beneficial bacteria in the gut. This association has been observed with IBD incidence as well: a 1996 study found that an increased incidence of Crohn’s disease is positively correlated with diets high in total fat, animal fat, omega-6 fatty acids, animal protein, and milk protein, and negatively correlated with vegetable protein.

A similar 2008 study found that diets characterized by high meat, fatty food, and dessert consumption was correlated with an increased incidence of Crohn’s disease, while a diet high in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, fish, grains, and nuts was inversely associated with Crohn’s disease.

A 2015 meta-analysis that looked at nine studies found that meat-eaters have a significantly increased risk of developing IBD.

While most studies supporting the use of a vegetarian diet in treating or managing symptoms of IBD are inflammatory, one study has shown that a semi-vegetarian diet may reduce inflammation and symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

The study followed 22 adults with Crohn’s disease who had achieved remission either by medicine or surgical intervention; over the course of two years, participants followed a semi-vegetarian diet; sugar intake was also discouraged.

Sixteen patients maintained this diet over the two-year period, and all but one of them maintained remission through that time period. This study supports the hypothesis that a plant-based diet may help reduce symptoms in patients with Crohn’s Disease, but it did not confirm whether such an association was due to an increase in beneficial gut bacteria.

For more information and tips on living with inflammatory bowel disease from the medical and patient communities, download the Gali friend for IBD mobile app and she will create a personalized feed of articles just for you!

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