Resources for vegetarian teen athlete?

I’m looking for resource recommendations. Anyone know of any good, up-to-date, teen-oriented vegetarian resources? Advice on EASY food choices, clear daily guidelines, and basic nutritional science will probably be most useful.

My sister’s SO’s 16-year-old daughter is smart, idealistic, beautiful, tall, skinny, and just now precariously tiptoeing along the eating-disorder cliff. She’s recently become a vegetarian (I’m not sure what her reasons are). She’s an athlete, specifically a runner. She’s scaring her loved ones by talking for the first time in her life about wanting to be a model, obsessing about her weight, etc. She tried being a vegan for a month or two, but dropped so much weight and felt so listless that she let herself be talked out of that for now. Even so, she still complains of being tired all the time, and it seems clear she needs some nutritional support. She does seem interested in learning how how to eat well.

This girl’s parents aren’t vegetarians. My sister is a not-quite vegetarian who still eats fish and even occasionally chicken. My sister, knowing me for the research geek I am, has asked for books or websites she can show the kid to help her eat better.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I hate cooking meat, so most of my cookbooks are veggie-oriented. I recommended Recipes for a Small Planet and Laurel’s Kitchen as helpful reference books - in particular the Small Planet section on combining foods for whole proteins seems applicable. However, these are such hippie-era oldies that I doubt a teenager is going to find them very attractive!

Most important, this kid needs advice on how to eat more than on how to cook, if that makes sense. The adults in her life will be thrilled to cook good meals for her, but kids these days (darn 'em!) eat without adult supervision an awful lot, and when on their own, I don’t think they make casseroles.

I’d give vegsource.com a try. I know in the past they’ve had articles about veg athletes, and they’ve got some good message boards, book recommendations, etc.

The bigger issue is the potential eating disorder. From what I’ve heard, a lot of eating-disordered girls and women start with going veggie, so her parents will have to watch her like a hawk. Good luck to her and her family.

Good question! A simple cookbook that I like that’s not too terribly TVP and wheat germ-filled is Moosewood Cooks At Home, though I know you’re looking more for websites.

Could her coach be able to point her towards any resources? I bet that she wouldn’t be the first vegetarian athlete that the coach has worked with.

As far as easy food choices, there are lots of tasty, proteinacious snack options for her: low-fat yogurt, nuts, string cheese, PBJs on whole wheat bread (with natural peanut butter, not that Skippy crap), and hard-boiled eggs come to mind immediately.

Exactly the kind of thing I’m looking for - thank you.

See, this is what I’m worried about, too… can you give any more details about where you’ve heard this, or why this is a trend, or anything?

Thank you. I’m sort of familiar with the Moosewood oevre (we lived for four years in Ithaca, where the Moosewood restaurant is) but this one looks particularly good.

Oh, that’s a great idea. I’ll see if my sister can find out more about the coach.

Coolio. I especially appreciate the vegan snack ideas. I’m also thinking roasted soybeans and other trail-mix type stuff. I’m also recommending a rice cooker for easy whole grains.

On the other hand, I get the feeling that protein isn’t this kid’s only nutritional lack - anemia may also be in play…

I’m not a vegetarian, though I once had an SO who was.

Iron deficiency anaemia can be a problem for vegetarians, especially women, but doesn’t have to be provided that plenty of iron-rich meat substitutes are eaten. Green veges and pulses (beans) are good candidates and vitamin C helps in iron absorption.

This site, which I googled, has useful info regarding iron-rich foods (with references).

It’s worth noting, too, that protein isn’t an energy source, so feeling listless is unlikely to be a symptom of a lack of protein. For energy (=calories), eat carbohydrate.

While these are good (I believe) guidelines, none of this is specific to vegetarian athletes, by the way. I’d be very much inclined to speak to somebody - such as a nutritionist - for their professional opinion.

So, when does she turn 18?

Two years from now, give or take.

Here’s a forum that seems pretty active.

If she’s eating a varied diet (meaning not iceberg lettuce salads every day) and getting enough calories, she’s probably fine.

I’m always a little confused about how much work people perceive a veg diet to be. Do you meat-eaters worry about the amount of protien and calcium you get? I’m not trying to be a brat, I’m seriously asking. Unless your veg diet consists of chips and pepsi, you’re going to be eating things like beans and soy, and getting a good amount of vitamins from plant foods.

Having her pop a multivitamin in the mornings (maybe when she brushes her teeth so it’s easy to remember) might ease her parent’s mind.

Many teens with eating disorders will choose a vegeterian diet as a way of limiting foods that they will eat. They gain extra “control” (less calories) and another way to manipulate their families. (I’m a health librarian, and there is info on this topic in almost all recent eating disorder books and articles.) See linkies:
http://www.healthyplace.com/Communities/Eating_Disorders/vegetarianism.asp
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0820/is_n212/ai_16845854
http://www.nedic.ca/knowthefacts/documents/Vegetarianismanddisorderedeating.pdf

Not that a veggie diet isn’t a GOOD thing, most of the time!

A good book on the nutritional needs of active people is Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook:
http://www.nancyclarkrd.com/books/sportsnutrition.asp