Am I a vegetarian if I eat fish or chicken?

What about sugar, is it really that bad for me?

Vegetarianism 101

Vegetarianism is a diet or eating style that includes no meat. However, vegetarianism has expanded in recent years to include a wide variety of diets. Some people who eat chicken or fish now call themselves semi-vegetarians because they eat no red meat.

The different types of ‘vegetarians’ are:

Vegan—people who follow this style neither eat nor use any animal products. This means they do not wear leather, nor eat honey. Everything they consume comes from plant sources. This is considered by some to be the healthiest way to eat, but it’s not for everyone.

Lacto-vegetarian—people who consume milk and other dairy products as well as vegetables, beans, grains, and fruits.

Ovo-vegetarians—this group of people eat eggs as well as plants.

Lacto-ovo vegetarian—these people eat plants as well as dairy and eggs and are the most common of all vegetarians. This is also the kind that most people think of when they refer to vegetarian eating, and is the most healthful because it includes healthful fats that are not available in the plant world.

Raw or live foods—people who follow this regime eat their food uncooked and most include no meat in their diets. They eat dried foods not processed above 112°. Technically, a person eats a raw foods diet if they consume at least 75% of their food raw.

Pescetarian—includes seafood but no land animals. To be fully in line with environmental reasons for not eating meat, fish must be wild caught, not farm-raised. The healthful fats come from cold water fish.

What about sugar, is it really that bad for me?

Though it was the fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates that sustained our ancestors, it is sugar’s sweetness that probably drew them to certain foods. It’s likely our sweet tooth developed many millennia ago. Sweetness let people know that something they picked up was ripe and OK to eat.  Sweetness enhances the flavor of foods and brings us enjoyment. But, like almost anything, too much sugar is bad. Whether or not it is inherently unhealthy is controversial. There is compelling evidence that sugar consumption lowers the body’s immune system making us more susceptible to disease. Millions of words have been written decrying the evils of sugar as well as supporting its pleasure. Most of our words of endearment contain sugar. We call those we love sweetheart or honey, for example. No matter where you fall on the sugar issue there is one thing most people agree on—foods made with sugar taste pretty good.

As long as you don’t have sugar “issues” like hiding it, or not sharing, a little sugar in your diet can be a good thing. But if you’re going to eat it, eat it in as healthy a form as possible. If you buy ready-made sweet things like cakes, candies, and pies, always read the label. In most packaged products you’ll have a long list of unpronounceable ingredients, not to mention artificial colorings and flavorings. Sugar can be listed in many forms like high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup, maple syrup, and others. Anything ending in –ose on the list is some form of sugar. To avoid eating all the rest of the questionable ingredients in packaged foods, make it yourself. And make all sweets as unprocessed as you do for the rest of your meal. Making it yourself gives you that control.

Of course, the most unprocessed sweet is a piece of fruit. For the best nutrition eat fruit in season and include the peel whenever possible. During off season, frozen or dried fruit, both without added sugar, are best. Dried fruit is very sweet. With its water gone the sugar in the fruit is very concentrated. All forms of sugar are pretty equal in the body. Your body really doesn’t know the difference between honey or table sugar. When it goes looking for energy, it’s happy to find either of these which your body has to turn into sugar’s useable form, glucose, anyway.

There is always new information being revealed about sugar and I will continue to update when I learn new useful information.