Are these side effects of poor nutrition (or something else)?

alienseamstress Posts: 4 Member
edited June 2019 in Health and Weight Loss
Hello all! My first post here so I figured I'd start by asking about something that has me really confused, and hoping someone else might have some insight.

I'm a vegetarian but I take lots of (appropriate) vitamins and supplements and am careful to take them at the right time of day. I don't have any health conditions but I did end up a little overweight by the time I entered my twenties because I tended to lean on carbs as a substitute for meat and dairy while growing up.
Of course, I realized the error of my ways and I've finally started working on replacing all those excess empty carbs -- mostly white breads, pastas, crackers, tortillas, etc. -- with more veggies and protein.

I've started feeling dizzy-lightheadedness sometimes though and I'm not sure why. I know that I'm not super fit (yet!) and my caloric needs are probably a lot higher than I'd like them to be, but if I'm eating a varied plant-based diet with a light amount of dairy, no sweets or processed foods, and taking all the vitamins/supplments I may need, what could most likely be causing that weak and dizzy feeling on some days?

In my teens I could almost go days without eating very much and would still be fine. I'm also not able to consult a doctor right now because I'm in-between health insurance. I suppose I'm just looking for what the most common causes of such symptoms (weak, dizzy/lightheaded) would be.. is it sugar-related? Not enough calories? An iron deficiency?

Whenever I feel this way I'll have something that is generally off the menu, like a bit of pasta with sauce and cheese. Then the next day I'll be fine. I typically eat only dinner but do have lots of snacks and a nutritional drink during the day, especially after a good workout.
Thanks for any advice or input on this subject!


  • tequila5000
    tequila5000 Posts: 128 Member
    What about your iron? Maybe a bit of anemia?
  • Diatonic12
    Diatonic12 Posts: 32,344 Member
    Have your potassium levels checked.
  • staticsplit
    staticsplit Posts: 538 Member
    You're only eating a banana before dinner and exercising to boot and you're wondering why you feel weak and dizzy? Your answer is right there. Eat more.

    I usually eat around 900 calories by the time dinner arrives. A few months ago it was more like 600 and I was usually shaky and hungry by dinner so I upped it. On heavy workout days, sometimes I've had 1400 calories by dinnertime.
  • try2again
    try2again Posts: 3,564 Member
    edited July 2019
    What are your current stats & goals? "My calorie needs are a lot higher than I would like them to be" seems like an odd statement. You don't want to have to eat that much? Fit people often have higher calorie needs to support their activity... it's not a bad thing. :)
  • slbbw
    slbbw Posts: 330 Member
    It would be a worthwhile exercise to track your calories for a week. From a carb and calorie perspective juice vs bread is not really all that much different. You are likely getting some more vitamins in your juice, but bread and pasta tend to be fortified so you may actually be lower in iron than you think. When I dropped processed grain It took me a minute to get my iron straightened out and chick peas were the answer for me.

    The other potential is low blood sugar. I personally find fruit and veggies to not be very sustaining for a bllod sugar perspective and that may be contributing. Having sufficient protein throughout the day can alleviate that as well.
  • earlnabby
    earlnabby Posts: 8,177 Member
    edited July 2019
    Could be low blood pressure, could be low blood sugar, could be a number of things. I would start with a complete physical including blood tests like a blood panel and metabolic panel. Eliminate any underlying issues like anemia or electrolyte imbalance first, then look at the obvious. Why can't you see doctors at the moment? If you are uninsured and low income, most areas of the US have free clinics where you can go. I was in that position 4 years ago and the free clinic did blood and urine tests and even made sure I saw a cardiologist and nephrologist at no charge to me (turns out I was severely anemic from bleeds in my stomach).

    Normally people don't need to randomly test for blood sugar but you can get an inexpensive glucose meter OTC from Walmart (about $9 for the meter and a box of 50 strips costs $9). If you are feeling dizzy and weak, test yourself and see. Same thing with BP but a decent home monitor will cost a bit more.
  • Five0Six
    Five0Six Posts: 112 Member
    Since you're unable to see a doctor, things like getting your labwork done (which would be my first suggestion) probably won't work for you. As far as things you can do -

    Make a sincere effort at logging your food. Don't worry about breaking it up into breakfast/lunch/dinner if that helps. Just log it wherever in the diary. I agree with others that you might very well just not be eating enough.

    Also how many vitamins and what kinds of vitamins do you take? If your body has too much of something, it can really throw off your electrolytes and screw things up. Also, vitamins tend to be full of chalky fillers, which can make a person's stomach feel bad and make you nauseous and not want to eat. And some OTC meds can react with others.

  • debtay123
    debtay123 Posts: 1,318 Member
    ITA with so many here- make SURE that you are eating enough- maybe meal prep would help- just prep something basic to have for a quick breakfast or lunch- can still be vegetarian- but something a bit more substantial- Remember vitamins do NOt take the place of food
  • poisonesse
    poisonesse Posts: 500 Member
    It sounds as though you didn't have this problem when you were eating carbs (and the ones you mentioned are NOT cheap carbs, they're complex and what your body craves) but now that you've cut them, you're dizzy and weak. I know that logging foods is a real PITA, but it's what you really need to do. I'm betting you're simply starving yourself, not enough calories to maintain good health. I can understand not wanting to see a doctor because of insurance or lack there-of (been there myself), but for your health, you have got to know how much you're eating! And no, it's not all about calories. It's the TYPE of calories you're eating that matters. Eating 1200 calories of potato chips is obviously not as good for you as eating 1200 calories of whole, unprocessed foods! And simply because you're eating veggie style doesn't mean you can ignore your macros! (Fat/carbs/protein) You need a balanced diet if you want to get the most out of your body! Please, for the sake of your health, take the time to record exactly what you eat each day, where your macros come in (under, over, WAY under or over)... and then you'll have a place to start altering your diet to get it where it needs to be. One more thing... you might think you're getting the nutrients missing from your food by taking supplements... but you have no way of knowing how much of those supplements are actually getting into your system. Supplements are meant to simply "top off" the nutrients you get from eating food, not to replace them completely.
  • Momjogger
    Momjogger Posts: 750 Member
    What protein are you eating if you are a vegetarian? Are you eating eggs, cheese, yogurt, tofu, chick peas, beans? Are you eating Quinoa? Baked potatoes? Sweet potatoes? What healthy carbs and protein are you currently eating besides drinking liquids and taking vitamins, which is not eating.
    The next day you are fine after eating pasta because you actually ate something. If you don’t want to fool yourself, but you do want to cut out processed carbs, try beans, sweet potatoes, hummus, couscous, and veggies, nuts and cheese, add a hard boiled egg with your banana as breakfast and then eat a lunch - salad with dressing and chick peas for example, chili with lots of beans, a veggie burger on a whole wheat bun with lettuce and tomato. Keep nuts and dried fruit to snack on at work. Have a sweet potato sprinkled with roasted pecans and drizzled with maple syrup.
    There is so much conflicting info here. You know you are under eating and that’s the problem. Yes I agree with the OP. You need to put your health first and see a doctor. You need to consider that some of your ideas about food are not healthy. I wish you the best of luck in figuring this out.