Teen with nut allergy going vegetarian, parents worried about nutrition, weight and fitness
Hi! I am fourteen, almost fifteen, and decided to go vegetarian three years ago. At first I didn’t eat red meat, and my folks were relatively cool with that, but now I’m trying to steer away from chicken as well.
The only problem is that I’m deadly allergic to all nuts – the whole anaphylaxis thing. My parents are worried that I’m not getting enough Iron and Protein (Even though I had an Iron test about three months ago stating that my Iron levels were fine) and they also believe I don’t have a balanced diet.
They’re also concerned about my body fitness and weight and often blame my vegetarian diet for not being the most toned person. Do you have any meals suggestions and information that could convince them otherwise?
Many thanks, C.M.
Savvy Vegetarian Advice
Hi C.M. Your parents are just doing their job – which is to take care of you and worry about you.
There are ways to make their job easier, and help you to be a healthy vegetarian:
1. Learn all that you can about vegetarian nutrition – you can do this in a few ways:
- Download the SV Report on Vegetarian Nutrition . That will give you the basics.
- Read some of the Savvy Vegetarian diet & nutrition articles  and nutrition advice letters /li>
- Get a book called Becoming Vegetarian  by Vesanto Melina & Brenda Davis. It’s the vegetarian nutrition bible that I recommend for all veggies, and their families.
- Other books that might be helpful: The Teen’s Vegetarian Cookbook and The Teen’s Guide to Going Vegetarian, both by Judy Krizmanic.
All of these books are available used on Amazon at very reasonable prices. See if you can get your parents to order them for you. If you can also get them to read them with you, that would be fantastic! It would answer a lot of their questions, and set their minds at rest about your vegetarian health and nutrition.
2. About your weight and fitness level: That’s not strictly due to your diet. It’s true that if you eat a lot of fast food and junk food, and not enough healthy food, that could make you overweight and unfit. But so does a lack of exercise.
Get into sports or exercise programs that you enjoy, and exercise every day – walking, bicycling, swimming, tennis, volleyball, soccer, dance, yoga, etc. If your parents see that you’re a good weight for your height, fit, and energetic, they may have a better opinion of your vegetarian diet.
3. Protein, Iron, Vitamins, etc: If you’re still eating chicken, dairy, and egg, chances are very good that you’re getting enough protein. Even if you went completely vegan, you’d still be able to get enough protein, iron, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals.
There are nutrition issues that vegetarians should be concerned about – like Vit B12, Omega 3’s, and Vitamin D. But you’ll know what to do about those if you read up on vegetarian nutrition.
4. Nuts: You absolutely don’t need nuts to be a healthy veg. But can you eat seeds? If so, you could have things like hummus .
5. You’ll be nice and healthy if you eat beans, tofu, whole grains, and fresh raw or cooked veggies.
6. Learn to cook for yourself – there are some yummy recipes  on Savvy Veg.
Medical Disclaimer: Any changes that you make to your diet, and the results of those changes, are your decision and responsibility. Savvy Vegetarian and its employees do not claim to be health care professionals, dietitians, or nutritionists. We do not treat, or recommend treatment, for any illness or health condition.