Flexitarian Diet

The Flexitarian Diet is an eating plan that is more flexible than fully vegetarian or vegan diets.

It’s meant designed to encourage eating mostly plant-based foods while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation.

The special is that it encourages you to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Gradually, while following this diet, include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins in your diet without leaving non-veg.

What is the Flexitarian Diet?

American dietitian Don Jackson Blatner described it in his 2008 book The Flexitarian Diet. In this, he has written that one does not need to completely give up the consumption of meat in order to be healthy. Rather, they may occasionally consume a limited amount of meat in their vegetarian diet.

Simply put, the name Flexitarian is a combination of ‘flexible’ and ‘vegetarian’. It is also known as partial vegetarianism.

Flexitarians are also called flexible vegetarians, as they eat very little meat, but they do not give up on it completely – they’re not considered vegetarians or vegans.

The Flexitarian Diet is based on the following principles:

  • Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. That is, in which the amount of fiber is high.
  • Focus on protein from plants rather than from animals.
  • Include meat and animal products in your diet in limited quantities.
  • Eat less processed food
  • Limit the amount of added sugar.

It does not forbid eating any type of food, and there is no clear rule or recommended number of calories and macronutrients in this diet. Therefore, the flexitarian diet is very popular among those people who cannot follow any diet strictly.

It emphasizes leaning toward a vegetarian diet rather than giving up meat completely. Therefore, it is also a good option for meat-fish lovers.

Possible Health Benefits of a Flexitarian Diet

The Flexitarian Diet may offer several other health benefits.

Weight management

Eating more plant-based foods in a flexitarian diet focuses on including more nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, legumes and vegetables – that helps with weight control.

Plant foods are naturally high in calories.

In a 2016 meta-analysis, researchers found that people who followed a flexitarian diet for 18 weeks lost almost 2 kg in weight compared to individuals on a non-vegetarian diet.

Heart disease

Diets rich in fiber and healthy fats may reduce the rate of ischemic heart disease in vegetarians.

Vegetarian foods are rich in fiber and antioxidants that help lower blood pressure and increase good cholesterol.

A 2020 review found that a vegetarian diet significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to an omnivorous diet.

Diabetes

Although the Flexitarian Diet doesn’t completely ban any foods, most processed foods have a high-calorie density and include many foods that are high in fiber and low in unhealthy fats and added sugar

Furthermore, studies tie regular intake of plant based foods to a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, and premature death.

Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the world.

Several studies suggest that it is associated with a lower overall incidence of all cancers, but especially colorectal cancer.

One study found that due to the high amount of fiber in this diet, it can control the risk of colon cancer to some extent, as well as high-fiber foods also reduce the risk of piles (piles or hemorrhoids).

The ultimate goal of the Flexitarian diet is not to make you a complete vegetarian. This makes you flexible in your diet and enables you to get protein and other nutrients from all the sources available.

Foods to eat on the Flexitarian Diet

Flexitarian or semi-vegetarian diet, limiting animal products and consuming as much protein, vitamins and other important nutrients as possible from vegetarian foods is recommended.

A list of what to eat in the Flexitarian diet –

Protein: soybeans, soy curd (tofu), legumes, pulses, oatmeal,
Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, mustard greens, beans, turnips, green cabbage
Nuts, seeds and other healthy fats: Almonds, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanut butter, avocado, olives, coconut, raisins, dates.
Oils: Healthy oils such as coconut and olive oils
Beverages: sparkling water, milk, tea, coffee
Fruits: Apples, oranges, berries, grapes, pears, bananas, pomegranates, blueberries and blackberries.
Antioxidant-rich spices and herbs: Basil, mint, cumin, turmeric, ginger.

Incorporating Animal Products

When you follow a flexitarian diet, include only a few meat products in your diet for better results.

Eggs: free-range or pasture-raised
Dairy: organic from grass-fed or pastured animals
Poultry: organic, free-range, or pasture-raised
Fish: wild-caught
Meat: grass-fed or pasture-raised

Foods to avoid on the Flexitarian Diet

Processed meats: Sausages, bacon, salami, ham, hot dogs
Fast Food: Burgers, Fries, Milkshakes, Fried Chicken, Pizza
Refined Carbs: White Bread, White Rice, Pasta, Pastries, Instant Oatmeal
Sugar: Candy, Donut, Cookies, Soda, Cake

Conclusion

The flexitarian diet enables you to gain access to better nutrients from both veg and non-veg foods. Since you are getting protein, vitamins and iron from vegetarian food like beans, lentils, tofu and nuts, but also taking non-veg as well. And as long as you consume meat in the right amount, it is better for your health. Hence, flexitarian diet helps you to have a balanced diet.

Eating a balanced diet can help with weight loss and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

However, for those who do not cook fresh food daily, following the flexitarian diet can be a bit difficult.

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Disclaimer

The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional