Is “overweight vegetarian” an oxymoron? Not at all. Contrary to popular thought, those who pass up meat and fish aren’t necessarily role models for good health. “Studies have found that typically people on a vegetarian diet do have lower body weight relative to their height than non-vegetarians,” says author and nutritionist Rovenia Brock, PhD, a.k.a. Dr. Ro. “But if you are not eating properly, then it isn’t going to guarantee weight loss or better health.”

And not eating properly can mean being addicted to a slew of unhealthy eating habits—consuming high-fat foods such as desserts, sweets and hard cheeses; drinking sugary sodas; and eating fried and processed foods. “Many vegetarians have the same food issues that non-vegetarians have,” she says. “The key is counting calories and eating nutritionally dense food.”

Dr. Ro offers these meat-free tips:
•    Get protein from beans: Opt for lentils, black beans and chick peas (not refried). Add soy products (tofu, edamame) to your regimen, and eat whole vegetables, fruits and grains.
•    Go easy on the nuts: Yes, they’re high in omega-3s, but they are also high in fat.
•    Choose low-fat dairy: Instead of gorging on hard cheeses and gulping 2 percent milk, try adding low-fat cheese to your quesadillas or skim milk to your cereal.
•    Watch your portions: Single servings are often supersized. Be mindful of quantity regardless of quality.
•    Avoid frying: Instead, grill, steam, boil or bake your veggies and tofu.
•    Stay active: Work that body, whether you’re a meat eater or not.

Now chew on that.