60 Year Old Vegetarian Wants To Lose Weight

Daily exercise, plant based diet and counting calories for weight loss

yoga woman

Hi! I’m 60 and have been totally veg for about 8 months. I eat a plant-based, whole grain, no oil diet. I don’t eat any soy products except non-fat Westsoy milk in coffee and cereal.

I’ve stopped being diabetic and hypertense and no longer have any thyroid problem. My cholesterol nos are great.

However, I initially lost weight and now have started gaining it back slowly. I need to lose another 25 lbs. What do I need to reduce, the whole grains or the beans? And when it comes to a meal, what exactly constitutes a “serving” size?

Thanks for the help!! S.N.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

Hi S.N.,

Thanks for writing, and congratulations on going vegetarian. It’s so inspiring that you’ve been able to get rid of diabetes, hypertension, a thyroid problem and lower your cholesterol in just 8 months!

Because of those tendencies though, you really need a dietitian or other health professional (which I’m not) to help you with this, maybe a weight loss counselor. Or to join a weight loss group.

All I can do is give what little information I have, and suggest a few ideas from my own experience. I’m 62 and I used to be a string bean. Now I have to watch what I eat :-( and exercise if I don’t want to be one of those old ladies with stick legs and a big pot belly!

If you aren’t already doing this, I suggest that you start an exercise programto burn any excess calories you inadvertently consume. Walking, swimming, gentle yoga, weight bearing exercise, golf, dancing are all good for the over 60+ set. It’s nice to join a group or have a buddy or two to exercise with.

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I also suggest tracking your calories for a couple of weeks to see where the calories live. From this exercise, you can also figure out what the best portion sizes are for you, and how much calories you really need per day to maintain a healthy weight.

According to various official sources, the average person needs 2000 calories a day. If I ate that much, I’d be 50 lb overweight and growing! I’m not saying you should obsess over calories for the rest of your life, but it’s good to have some background awareness of that aspect.

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There is an another scenario, quite common in dieting. If you restrict calories too much, your body assumes you’re starving, stubbornly holds onto its fat, and adds more. So it’s better to think long-term, eat the healthy diet you plan to eat for the rest of your life, start exercising to transform flab into firm, and be patient. Give your body a chance to adjust to the new regime.

1/2 cup is a typical serving size for whole grains and beans or lentils. If you divide your dinner plate in four, 2/4 should be veggies. Eat all the veggies you want except for starchy veg like potato, sweet potato or yam and winter squash. Ditto avocados. Half an avocado is like eating a piece of cake in terms of calories – but they’re so good for you! A handful a day of nuts and seeds is a serving.

Ayurveda recommends eating your main meal at lunch time when your digestion is at its peak. Eat a lighter supper before 8:00 at night. My theory is that everything you eat after that turns to fat. Your body needs a 12 hour fast to clear out waste and accumulated toxins from the digestive system.

Always eat breakfast including protein. It doesn’t need to be big. Often I just have fresh fruit or lime juice with water, and nuts & dried fruit. I’ll have a small helping of cooked cereal or some rice crackers or a sprouted wheat tortilla – if I’m very hungry and getting lots of exercise.

Stewed spiced apples with dried figs and prunes is great for breakfast! Peel & quarter an apple (for 1 person), add 2 whole cardamom pods, 1/2 cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 1/2 inch of water, 2 or 3 figs and prunes, bring to a boil, cover and cook 10 minutes on low. This is a good weight loss breakfast. So is grapefruit.

For supper, try a hearty soup including cooked beans or lentils, and a whole grain. Soups are about my favorite food. They fill you up and satisfy you without a lot of calories. Same with salads, especially in summer.

Barley, buckwheat, millet, rye are good whole grains if you’re watching your weight, according to Ayurveda. Rice and wheat not so much. Oats and quinoa in moderation – they are highest in fat of all the grains mentioned.

Any cooked bean or lentil should be ok, they aren’t high calorie except for whole soy foods like tofu and tempeh. Beans are high protein, so modest servings are good (1/4 – 1/2 cup), as excess protein that isn’t excreted will convert to fat.

Often we mistake thirst for hunger. Our bodies are mostly water, and we need a minimum of 2 qts a day to stay hydrated. One effect of dehydration is that the body retains water. So, drink LOTS of water. Herbal teas too. Small amounts of coffe or tea if you like them.

If you eat dairy and egg, eat small amounts.

That’s the sum total of my weight loss secrets. I do fine as long as I follow my own advice and don’t slack off – too much! Please see if you can get some better help than this!

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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5 Responses to “60 Year Old Vegetarian Wants To Lose Weight”

  1. shirley says:

    Thanks to you all for all the suggesions! I don't eat dairy or eggs, so I'm good there. I work out (cardio/strength training) almost daily. I think it's the not-enough-water-and-too-much-coffee syndrome :-) plus maybe too many whole grains and too large serving sizes. I'll try to do better. Thanks again!!

  2. Toni says:

    I don't see how quinoa can hurt.

    Although it may have fat, it's good fats, beneficial for joints, skin, and hair.

    Quinoa has a high protein content, and is very easily digested, meaning what you digest gets used, not stored indefinitely, it's a complete protein all on it's own, such as beans and rice.

    Quinoa with salsa, or in a curry type dish is one of my favorites, and I eat it all the time, and don't gain weight. I exercise by walking an hour a day outside, with my dog, and yoga whenever possible to stay flexible.

  3. Anonymous says:

    She should get into a serious weight training program

  4. J Kingsbury says:

    Some one from the Savvy Veg FB fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/.....1951542055) had some good suggestions: "BP: This is interesting, because I think it is important as we age to eat consistently all day long, drink water almost as much as we take a breath, and increase our fibrous foods…more beans, more lentils, more vegetables.If she has coffees she should triple the water she drinks."

  5. Zippity Do Dog says:

    Dairy, if she eats that, is huge as far as slowing the metabolism…and the soy is a problem for me with weight…the estrogen impact. I would say she should increase the beans and lentils and eat vegetables all day long to suppress the appetite… and do walking sprints every other day.Drink nothing but water with lemon or lime.

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