Due to the high rate of diseases that come from taking red meat, a lot of people are opting for a plant-based diet. Being a vegetarian can be challenging since you have to give up on all kinds of meat including fish.
Some people are not willing to make that sacrifice, so they stick to plant-based foods but include fish in their diet. This is what is called the pescatarian diet.
If you are planning to be one, you still get to enjoy the vegan diet and eat different forms of seafood.
This diet forms the middle ground between a vegetarian and the omnivorous diet.
Becoming a pescatarian comes with a lot of health benefits since it can protect you from heart diseases.
Unlike a vegan diet, a pescatarian diet prevents you from nutritional deficiencies since seafood contains iodine, zinc, and protein. However, it would be wise of you to consider the following factors before becoming a pescatarian.
1. Check Your Iron Levels
Red meat contains more iron than fish. Eliminating red meat means that you may not be getting the same amount of iron from the pescatarian diet. You have to look for ways to increase your intake of iron as you transition to this new diet. Get iron from plant-based foods such as green veggies, fortified grains, sunflower, and legumes.
Your doctor can also help you determine if you are meeting your iron needs. You may need to boost the levels by taking an iron supplement. Remember to consume foods that are rich in vitamin C since they can help your body absorb iron.
2. Pay Attention To Your Mercury Intake
By adding fish in place of red meat to your diet, you increase your mercury intake. Fish contains a lot of mercury, and high levels are unhealthy for your body. Dieticians recommend that we should take fish only twice in one week. For a pescatarian, their intake for fish is higher than recommended since most take fish every day.
To avoid taking too much mercury, you should look for a place where they sell fish that contain low mercury levels. Be keen on the fish type you choose since they differ when it comes to how much mercury they have. Consider types such as broadbill, marlin, and swordfish. If you get catfish, take it only once in a week since it has high mercury levels.
3. Design Your Diet
As you make the switch, you should think about how your diet will look like. Decide how restrictive or flexible you would like your diet to be. Despite eliminating meat, you can choose to take dairy products and eggs as your primary source of proteins.
Get other protein sources such as lentils, nuts, and beans. Almond milk, vegan cheese, and soy can also increase flexibility in your recipes. Include vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to make your diet balanced. They will prevent you from lacking any vital nutrients since they contain vitamins, antioxidants, minerals as well as fiber.
You should also be ready to research more about the pescatarian diet before dropping meat. You can get all the necessary information you need from online sources, magazines, and even cookbooks. They will teach you different pescatarian recipes that can motivate you as you begin the journey.
Look for bloggers who post recipes for pescatarians and get new ideas. You can also look for people who have adopted the same lifestyle in your neighborhood or even the workplace. They can give you great support into your diet transition.
Online forums and communities share useful information about the diet. Participate in such and learn new things every day. You can even take cooking classes from private companies which specialize in the pescatarian diet.
5. Prep The Kitchen
A new eating pattern means that you have to adjust your kitchen items and make the necessary changes. Think about restocking your fridge and pantry with new foods. Look for special kitchen equipment that will help you with meal preparations. Consider buying a filleting knife, boning tweezers or fish spatula. You may also need some seasonings and spices to add flavor to seafood.
6. Go For Sustainable Seafood Options
Select shellfish and fish that are sustainable to prevent overfishing of the rare species. Overfishing of species that are not common affects the food chain and environment. Sustainable species can reproduce quickly and help in maintaining an adequate population. They include the likes of Atlantic Pollock, Alaskan Cod Dover Sole, and catfish.
When you locate a store that supplies sustainable seafood, you need to consider the quality of fish they sell. Pay attention to their counter display since you can easily tell if their options are fresh or not.
Good fish should have bright eyes and an elastic flesh. Take your time with the selection so that you can look at the overall appearance of fish as well as its smell.
7. Come Up With A Meal Plan
You need to establish weekly meal plans to make your transition to a pescatarian diet easy. Get a journal and indicate all the meals you intend to take within the first week. Come up with another list of groceries to reduce the confusion and avoid forgetting important items when you go to the market.
If you have a busy schedule, you can spare some time during the weekend to prepare meals in advance and consume them throughout the entire week. Coming up with a meal plan also helps you cut down on costs.
8. Inform your family
Your family needs to know about your plan to switch to a new diet because when you are living together, they need to remember your restrictions. Make them aware of the foods you can and cannot eat. Teach them about the pescatarian diet and explain the benefits to them. They may even join you with the new diet.
9. Avoid Unhealthy Foods
The pescatarian diet can only help you lead a healthy life if you don’t replace meat with junk foods. You can also lose weight from the diet if you are careful about the snacks you consume. The good thing about this diet is that you will be consuming a lot of healthy fatty acids like Omega 3 and 6.
However, new research has shown that Omega 7 is also beneficial for your body as it aids in weight loss and many other good benefits.
It may be hard to give up on all the favorite snacks, but you will soon adapt. Within a few months of eating healthy, you may notice changes in your weight, mood and even energy levels.
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