Help! My Vegetarian Daughter Doesn’t Eat Enough Protein

My Picky daughter doesn't eat enough protein

About four years ago my daughter, then a teenager, became a vegetarian. I wasn’t surprised. She’s kinda weird about food and doesn’t actually love it. It’s not an unhealthy aversion—she’s just one of those people who eats to live as opposed to living to eat. Unlike many people, she doesn’t dream about her next meal and how good it’s going to be. When she goes on vacation, she doesn’t research the best places to chow down (unless it’s dessert. That she likes).

Even worse, she fairly limited with the variety of foods and flavours that appeal to her, which makes it hard to eat a well-balanced diet (for example, she doesn’t like quinoa, a mainstay of vegetarian diets). What’s good is that she’s now added back fish and deli turkey (don’t ask. I don’t). To unsweeten the pot, she is also somewhat lactose-intolerant.

So what does a mother of a non-adventurous semi-sort-of-vegetarian feed her daughter? And even worse, feed her daughter who is almost 21 and should be taking an active interest in how to prepare her own food (seeing as the ultimate goal is for her to obtain her own independent residence at one point).

She seeks professional help, that’s what. At her local Loblaws. Did you know you can make an appointment with the store dietician for a walk-through?

What can the dietician help with:

  • Explaining the Loblaws Guiding Stars program (more on that in a bit) and how it can help you make good food choices
  • identifying foods to solve specific dietary concerns
  • Providing nutritional info and daily requirements and limits
  • Provide recipes and support

Loblaw Guiding Stars programDuring our walk-through, the dietician pointed out a variety of options for incorporating more protein and nutrients into my picky small-eating daughter’s diet. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about nutrition, but I learned a lot. The goal of the suggestions? Pack as much nutrition as possible into what she eats plus find options to satisfy her sweet tooth:

Here are some of her tips:

  • Kale and spinach are equal on many fronts except calcium absorption where kale wins the contest. Throw it into soups and salads or sautee and chop up into scrambled eggs or a grain/rice blend.
  • If you don’t like—or are sick of—quinoa, try freekeh or Farro. Quinoa and Freekeh are great sources of protein, and Farro definitely trounces barley (I’ve started adding it to soup and the whole family loves it). Look for blends that have quinoa or other grains (there are a few blue menu products that are great). You can also mix rice and legumes together and make your own blend.
  • Keep roasted chickpeas around for a snack, to sprinkle on soups and salads. Chicky’s Roasted chickpeas: open a can, drain and rinse well. Shake off all the moisture and in a bowl, toss with a little olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt salt, cumin, and black pepper. Roast in a 375 degree oven until browning and getting crispy.
  • Eat pink/orange fish (like salmon, rainbow trout) twice per week to get your Omega vitamins. White fish is great for protein but lacks this brain booster. As well, go for fresh or frozen, but avoid breaded fish.
  • Sprinkle hemp powder or pumpkin seed powder into smoothies, on cereal, or even on ice cream to get an extra boost of nutrients and protein.
  • Make a homemade trail mix of nuts and seeds to get extra protein, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, fiber, and good fats. One serving is about 1/4 cup, or a shot glass full. Use: pumpkin seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, almonds. Stay away from: cashews and raisins.
  • Satisfy a sweet tooth with chia pudding. Chia is a nutritional powerhouse. The seeds do not have to be ground to allow you to absob their amazing quantity of nutrients, which include omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and minerals including more calcium than milk. Here’s the simplest Chia Pudding I could find.
  • Bring her with to the grocery store (or encourage her to start shopping for her own food) using the Guiding Stars on the Loblaw companies shelf tags to help make decisions about what foods to choose. The Guiding Stars program rates food products for nutrition density from 0-3 stars, based on the ingredients. Stars are given for whole grains, Omega 3s, fibre, vitaimins, and minerals. Stars are taken away for added sugar, salt, or saturated and trans fats. If a person is concerned with nutrition, they should stay away from foods with no stars as their nutritional density is not rated.

Loblaw guiding starsMore on the Guiding Stars Program: You can find stars ratings for produce, packaged food, seafood, dairy, the meat counter, and the bakery. If you don’t see Guiding Stars on the price tag:

  • the food didn’t receive a star because it lacks nutritional density (but can be part of a healthy lifestyle if consumed in balance)
  • the category is not rated by Guiding Stars—such as alcoholic beverages and products containing less than 5 calories per serving like bottled water, dried spices, tea and coffee
  • the item is new to the store and has not yet finished being rated.

I’d love you to book a walk-through with a Loblaws dietician to learn more about Guiding Stars. Win a $50 gift card to get your grocery shopping started.

Do you have any nutrition concerns you’d like to ask a dietician?

Note: I was provided a gift card to use at Loblaws during my dietician appointment. All opinions and parenting issues are my own. 

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