Flexitarian diet is based on the intake of more plant-based meals and less meat.
This diet will well serve those who would like to lead a vegetarian diet, but cannot completely give up meat delicacies. This diet provides a desired combination of foods.
The diet was named by the American nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner, who combined the terms “flexible” and “vegetarian”. If you want to know the details of this diet, you may read Blatner’s book in which you have a multitude of fast, simple and healthy recipes.
The book has a lengthy title: “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life”.
You can check this book here.
The diet advocates losing weight and changing dietary habits in the long run and reasonably combines vegetable and meat dishes. Other diets are often more radical in their principles, and flexitarians consider that it is their sensible approach what makes their diet different from similar diets on the market.
Many people would like to practice a vegetarian diet when they have health problems and / or weight problems. However, they often cannot really give up eating meat and then the problems start. Moreover, they often have a guilty conscience because they gave up and they cannot continue with vegetarianism.
This is exactly how Dawn Jackson Blatner changed her diet. She was a vegetarian for more than 15 years, and she ate meat on rare occasions. She would then feel guilty, as if she breached the principles of vegetarianism. Therefore, she designed so called flexible vegetarianism that combines the best of both worlds: vegetables and meat.
Scientific research has proven that flexitarian diet has good long-term effects on health. One study from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that only one day of vegetarian diet a week can reduce the total intake of saturated fat by 15 percent, which definitely has a significant effect on the reduction of the possibility of a heart attack, stroke and cancer.
Flexitarian approach enables its supporters to lose 15 percent of their weight, there are fewer cases of diabetes and heart disease and life expectancy is 3.6 years longer compared to people who eat meat every day.
Flexitarian diet plan consists of five food groups:
Group 1: proteins – it is advisable to lower the intake of animal proteins, and to eat more plant proteins (like soybeans, seeds, legumes and eggs).
Group 2: Fruits and vegetables
Group 3: whole grains such as whole meal bread, integral rice, brown pasta, corn, oatmeal
Group 4: dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Eat only low-fat dairy products.
Group 5: Spices, sweeteners (avoid sugar), unsaturated fat.
What will surely suit everyone is that there are not too many sacrifices and radical changes. Eat vegetarian foods as much as you can, and eat meat only when your body needs it. You may reduce meat intake step by step.
In this diet, there are three levels:
- Beginner flexitarian – has only two meatless days a week
- Advanced flexitarian – has three or four meatless days a week
- Expert flexitarian – has at least five meatless days a week
No matter what level you find yourself, you will see that you will increasingly reduce the proportion of meat in your diet. You will start to prefer whole grains, dairy products, legumes, vegetables and nuts.
If you follow the strict principles of this diet, you will take in about 1500 calories a day in three main meals and two snacks between these meals.
Breakfast includes 300 calories, lunch 400, dinner 500, and there are 150 calories per snack. If you want to take in fewer calories, you may remove snacks from the daily menu. And if you want to increase your calorie intake – double your breakfast (you will get 1800 calories a day).
The basis of this diet is its flexibility. Flexitarianism is adopted as a lifestyle rather than a strict diet regime. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and dairy products on a daily basis.
4 simple tips that will help you become flexitarian:
- 1st Switch roles
Cut the meat in your meals in half, and instead of it eat the plant proteins – beans, lentils, soy, etc. (Note: Replace 1 / 4 cup of beans with 30 grams of meat)
- 2nd Improve the existing meals
Improve your current meals by adding more fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains.
- 3rd Try the new, tasty, meatless recipes
Each week find an interesting vegetarian recipe that you would like to try out, roll up your sleeves and start an adventure! Try to include such meals in your diet as often as you can.
- 4th In restaurants order vegetarian meals
Most restaurants now have dishes for people who do not eat meat, so try some of them next time you go out.