I am trying the vegetarian lifestyle and have finally given up bacon and hamburgers and went meat-free. I have a family history of obesity, heart disease, and cancer, and have read that a diet rich in fruits and veggies can play a huge role in prevention. I've been loading up on the green veggies, beans, fruits, and tofu. My taste buds don't really miss meat, but it hasn't even been a week and I'm having some, well, unpleasant side effects. I'm unbelievably bloated and gassy all the time, and am close to giving up on my veggie quest. Is it possible that my body is trying to tell me that a vegetarian diet isn't right for me, or is there a way to go about this so that I'm not feeling so inflated?
— Puffed Up
First of all, I applaud you for taking your health into your own hands and going meat-free. Your body is greatly benefiting from consuming less saturated fat and more plant-based proteins. I'm actually not surprised that you're experiencing such embarrassing and uncomfortable side effects, but that doesn't mean you can't become a vegetarian. To hear my suggestions
From your diet description, you're doing everything right with your food choices, but there's such a thing as too much, too soon. Vegetarian foods are very high in fiber, and if your digestive system isn't used to that, it translates to gas and maybe even diarrhea. So my advice is to slowly ease into this diet. Be a flexitarian for a while. Consume your old diet that includes meat, and gradually increase your fruit, vegetable, legume, and whole grain intake as you fade out the meat. At first, eat small portions of foods that are especially gas-producing such as broccoli, beans, green peppers, apples, and high fiber cereals. Slowly increase the portion size over time and the gassiness should begin to dissipate. Making the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle overnight is a shock to your system, so all you need to do is move forward slowly, listen to your body, and you'll be meat-free (and less bloated) within a few weeks.