My teen daughter went from vegetarian to vegan at the start of the year, she is 16 years old, but I am concerned about her weight which has gone down significantly. How do I make sure she gets enough calories?
(By: Laura B.)
I have to make this brief since I am late getting out of town for a few days. A vegan diet can be one of the best diets in the world or it could be one of the worse. Let me explain. If your daughter eats a junk vegan diet it can be dangerous to her health. On the other hand if she eats a well balanced diet you should see an improvement in her health. Yes, she will loose weight but it should not be dangerously low. If she gets too thin than there is a problem. She may be eating a junk vegan diet, which is even worse than a junk meat diet, or she has another problem. Please have her read books on a good vegan diet. There are many out there. She could also go to: for a lot of good information. They have VEGAN Mailing List, VEGAN Resourse Library, Doc's Blog (mine), and other valuable information.
You are the parent and even though you may disagree with her choice of diet, you can still make sure that she eats a well balanced vegan diet. Do not allow her to eat a junk vegan diet. At her age it could be dangerous to her health. Be as alarmed as you would be if she ate a junk meat diet. Both are bad for her. Insist that if she eats a vegan diet that it must be a good vegan diet. I hope that this helps and I am sorry that i have to run. I am already late.
A healthy vegan diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, is not very calorie-dense. That means you may actually need to eat more food to get the same number of calories you were eating on a meat diet. If your daughter is eating a lot of grains, vegetables, and beans (which is good) she can increase her calories by eating more, or by adding some fat (oil, avocado, nuts).
It's important to remember that some fat is necessary for healthy cells, skin, and hair, and your daughter should make sure to include some healthy fats.
Using an online calorie/nutrient calculator can help your daughter make sure she is getting the calories and vitamins she needs. Try searching for "vitamin intake online calculator." If she's not eating enough, or if she continues to lose weight, definitely talk to a doctor or nutritionist.