In today’s world there are so many diets and eating restrictions that it’s hard to come by which one may be the right fit for you. Many diets claim to be cure-all wonders that will be suitable for everyone, but the reality is that every person has individual and unique needs in order to achieve optimum health.
One popular diet that has been named a lot in the health industry is the Flexitarian Diet. The term was created by Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner in her book The Flexitarian Diet and it’s focus is on including more plant based foods and proteins into our food choices rather than placing restrictions. More so than a diet, becoming a Flexitarian is part of an overall healthier lifestyle.
The basic principles of the Flexitarian Diet are as follows:
- Including more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into our diet
- Including more plant-based proteins
- Incorporate animal-derived foods occasionally
- Focus on whole, natural form of foods
- Cut or limit processed and refined foods and sugars
As you can see there is room for flexibility in the diet, hence the “flex” in Flexitarian. The diet has different “levels” where animal derived foods are incorporated in different amounts. For example, beginners eat 6-8 meatless meals out of 21 total meals a week. Advanced should eat around 9-14 meatless meals while experts eat 15 or more meatless meals per week.
As mentioned before, the idea is to eat meatless meals that still offer an adequate amount of protein and an abundance of nutrients from plant-derived food sources rather than processed foods. Doing so will ensure Flexitarians enjoy a healthy lifestyle free of nutrient deficiencies and enjoy the benefits the diet has to offer.
The following are some of the benefits of the Flexitarian Diet:
- Reduced risk of heart disease due to an increased consumption of fiber and healthy fats
- May experience weight loss due to eating low calorie and nutrient-dense plant based foods rather than high calorie processed foods
- Eating a predominantly plant based diet may help reduce the risk of diabetes
- Increasing consumption of antioxidants and nutrients can help prevent some forms of cancer
- A predominantly plant based diet can help reduce your carbon footprint and decrease greenhouse gas emissions
- Helps save money by reducing expenses from animal proteins
Overall, the Flexitarian diet is a fairly easy to follow way of eating and lifestyle. Some people may not want to cut their consumption of animal proteins while others may have suffered nutrient deficiencies from doing so, and the Flexitarian diet offers a way of balancing out your diet in order to reap the greatest amount of benefits from the food we consume. Overall, it’s emphasis on eating more whole, plant based foods and animal-derived foods on occasion can have long-term benefits for our health.