The flexitarian diet Overview:
After veganism and vegetarianism’s massive popularity around the world, other diets have been created similar to those two. With the slight issues they might present to some of us like the fact that they do not eat meat, fish, poultry or eggs, they present a lack on certain major food groups like protein and certain micro nutrient like zinc and iron.
People start looking for alternatives in their own foods like overeating foods high in protein in the diets like tofu and beans to make up for the lack of protein for instance, the overeating also creates a problem in that case.
The flexitarian diet comes with the perfect balance, often referred to as the “casual vegetarianism”, this diet is the perfect option for most of us that want to benefit from the vegetarian diet’s health stats and those that do not want to give up eating a little bit of everything from time to time. It is often used as an introduction for those that want to take it slow on their vegan or vegetarian journey.
This diet reduces meat to a reasonable amount so it does not hurt your digestive system, but it places a major focus on organic fresh vegetables and fruits. Also referred as the flexible vegetarianism, flexitarian diet offers the best benefits that vegetarianism offers while not giving up meat and its benefits for the body.
In addition to that, a considerable number of studies have found that participants who eat a diet high in fruit, vegetables, nuts and whole grains have a much lower risk of cardiovascular disease which is one of the biggest killers which is mainly due to the fact that vegetarians and vegans consume a diet full anti-oxidants and essential vitamins.
Another study also showed that eating red meat regularly may increase the risk of cancer, which is why the flexitarian diet puts an emphasis on lower your intake of meat. This diet does not put any clear cut numbers and percentages on how much of food groups should you eat or should you not eat, it is more of a lifestyle rather than a crash diet, it guarantees long term benefits as well as short term results that might be seen within few days such as lack of bloating and feeling leaner.
This diet is also great for those that are interested in trimming their waist line and reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes; it might manage those diseases or even prevent them. That is why it is ranked among the best diets overall and even in plant based diets.
The flexitarian diet is also going to help you get introduced to the alternatives of meat in veganism, for instance, tofu is a great substitute for meat, as well as some great recipes that mimic the taste of meat using kidney beans and mushrooms, if you perfect these recipes, you might even go full on vegan since the taste of meat is already there. The question that arises here is what foods you can eat to reap both benefits.
Foods to eat on the flexitarian diet:
There is nothing is greatly restricted, the emphasis here is to eat as much as you can from fruits and vegetables while keeping meat on the side. It is almost like being a full vegetarian, except you get to have a little bit of meat as a treat from time to time to balance your zinc and other vitamins. Keep in mind that the diet does not necessarily focus on detail aspects, it focuses on being a flexible vegetarian, hence the name flexitarian.
The choices that are being made in the diet focus on strictly being vegetarian, but with flexibility to eat meat, other heath choices are for you to decide, after all, it is flexible.
Meats, proteins and dairy:
Recommended: As little meat as possible, tofu, green beans, beans, rice protein, pea protein, as little dairy as possible, etc.
Occasionally: Organic, free-range or pasture-raised chicken breast, turkey breast, Wild-caught salmon and tuna along with cheese, grass fed organic beef, milk, etc
Grains, starches and legumes:
Recommended: beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, teff, buckwheat, oats, faro, whole wheat, brown rice, etc.
Recommended: free-range eggs
Recommended: Apples, oranges, berries, grapes, cherries, bananas, kiwi, pineapple, etc.
NOTE: All fruits are highly welcomes in this diet.
Recommended: lettuce, kale, Winter squash, peas, corn, sweet potato, arugula, spinach, carrots, beets, corn, broccoli, onions, etc.
NOTE: All vegetables are highly welcomed in this diet.
Nuts and seeds
Recommended: Almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, cashews, etc.
Oils, fats, sauces, and sweeteners
Recommended: peanut butter, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, Reduced-sodium soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, salsa, mustard, nutritional yeast, sugar free ketchup and sugar free syrup, etc.
Recommended: sparkling water, tea, coffee
Sample flexitarian one day diet:
This diet has a lot of flexibility and these samples are only an example of what you could do with the flexitarian diet. You could create many recipes depending on your taste and level of the flexitarian diet; for instance, if you are just beginning the diet, you can indulge in some eggs, chicken breast and fish around five times a week, but if you are a hardcore flexitarian, then chances are, you are going to be consuming meat or chicken three to four times per month.
Three egg whites and one whole egg
Whole wheat toast
Cup of unsweetened coffee
Tofu stir fry with: olive oil, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, kale, tofu.
Strawberry and banana juice
Leftover stir fry
Boiled potatoes scrambled eggs
Whole wheat toast with 0 percent added sugar strawberry jam and natural almond butter
Baked sweet potatoes
Grilled skinless chicken breast
Veggie burger with: red kidney bean, mushrooms, egg plant, zucchini, whole wheat crumbs.
Nuts, veggies, etc.
Tips to help you on your flexitarian diet:
The first step is all about shopping; when you are first beginning your diet journey, opt for more legumes, fruits and vegetables than meat and poultry. You can gradually decrease meat from your diet at the beginning until you have no issues with getting used to the diet.
Do a lot of outdoor activity and go to the gym frequently.
Consider supplementation with zinc, B12, fish oil, whey protein isolate 100 percent and iron.
Track your meat consumption
Eat meat only on special occasions
Flexitarian Diet Summary:
The diet is definitely the best option for overweight individuals who have diabetes, but it also presents risks of the lack meat nutrients which can definitely be fixed by supplementation. This diet is also a great long term diet and it is not a crash diet, it is a lifestyle whereby you chose to be a vegetarian but with the ability to enjoy your steak, barbeques and sushi from time to time.
It is absolutely worth trying and you can get a lot of variety from it. The recipes are endless and the health benefits marry both sides of the equation.