Flexitarian Diet

It can be very hard to find what kind of diet works for you.  Whether the diet is geared to cutting things out of your diet to help you lose weight, or making you supplement meals with shakes there can be a lot that goes into a diet.  A growing in popularity diet is the flexitarian diet.  Flexitarian is also known as a semi vegetarian diet.  It is a diet that mainly follows mainly vegetarian rules with the occasional addition of meat.  This diet is becoming more popular because it doesn’t focus on restrictions.  The amount of meat you eat is completely up to you.  It is a diet that you create your own rules too. 

For some people this flexitarian diet is wonderful.  It doesn’t immediately make you cut any food out of your diet.  The amount of meat you eat is up to you, some people will eat meat 1 or 2 days a week without meat while others will skip having meat 5 days out of the week.  This diet doesn’t count calories, it’s main focus is to be primarily plant based.  

There are some main rules to the flexitarian diet. 

  1. To eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains
  2. Eat protein mostly from plants
  3. Incorporate animal products from time to time
  4. Eat most natural forms of food (try to decrease or eliminate processed foods over time)
  5. Limit sugar additives and sweeteners. 

The main idea behind this diet is to add healthy foods into your diet.  Make it easier for you to reach for the fruits and vegetables instead of reaching for processed foods and snacks.  It helps you train your body into a more vegetarian-like diet without limiting your love of a good juicy hamburger.  This diet has some health benefits, though losing weight may not be at the top of the list.  It isn’t a diet that will transform your body overnight, but it can help you lose weight because you will be eating healthier foods.  The diet will help you retrain yourself to reach for an apple to boost your energy instead of getting a sugary snack.  The flexitarian diet may lower your risk of heart disease.  This is because you won’t be eating as much meat daily.  The flexitarian diet may also help you lower, prevent or manage diabetes, prevent cancer, or even make you live longer.  The exact benefits of this diet is hard to know since so much of the diet is up to each person.  No two flexitarians may eat the same thing in a day so it is hard to see what benefits come out of it.  The flexitarian diet may help the environment.  It can help the environment by decreasing the greenhouse gas emission, and preserve land and water use.  The resources that are used to grow plants is far less than the resources that are used to raising animals.  

This diet though it can have some benefits may lead to some gaps in your nutrition.  Since this diet is not so structured it may be hard for some people to follow it and get the benefits from it.  With that if you are new to getting the right vitamins from just plant based foods you could end up with vitamin deficiencies.  Some common nutrient deficiencies can be vitamin B12, zinc, iron, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids.  It is important to know what you are eating and making sure you are getting enough nutrients and vitamins when changing to a more plant based diet. 

Here are some foods that can help you start off on the right track with the flexitarian diet.  Protein is very important though you can still eat some meat when you like you can try and get your protein from plant based foods.  Such as soybeans, tofu, tempeh, legumes and lentils.  Some good non-starchy vegetables to add to your diet would be bell peppers, brussel sprouts, green beans, carrots, cauliflower.  Starchy vegetables include squash, peas, corn, and sweet potatoes.  Fruits that are always a healthy choice are apples, oranges, berries, grapes, and cherries.  Whole grains can include quinoa, teff, buckwheat, and farro.  Nuts which can also be a good source of protein are almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanut butter, avocados, olives, and coconut.  Some plant based milk options can be unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, hemp, or soy milk.  The best animal products to use are eggs, poultry, fish, and grass-fed meat.  

Try to minimize eating things like processed meat such as bacon, sausage, and bologna.  Also items such as white bread, white rice, bagels, and croissants.  And stick to whole grain options instead.   Other foods to try and decrease with the thought over time of elimination are soda, donuts, cakes, cookies, candy, milkshakes, fast food burgers and chicken nuggets. 

The flexitarian diet may be the perfect diet for someone who doesn’t want a rigid diet but just wants to try and eat healthier.  The fact that it pushes you into good foods but allows you to still eat meat and the occasional other processed foods allows you to make the diet molded for yourself.  You can eat as much or as little as anything with it giving you the resources to learn how to eat a more vegetarian, plant based diet.  It can be a very easy diet to shop for and not be too structured or difficult to follow.  This diet sounds like it’s name, it is flexible in the way you want to make it.  





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