Flexitarian Diet – What the fuss is all about

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Do you want to lose weight? But you dread about all the rules and restrictions that come with it? Do you want to rope in the benefits of vegetarian diet? But cannot even imagine about going meat –free. Don’t worry. Stay put and read on.

Flexitarian – a term coined by Dawn Jackson Blatner in 2008 in her book “The Flexitarian Diet”, simply means combining plant based diet and animal diet in a holistic manner.

As the name suggests it comes from flexible + vegetarian. It encourages plant based foods without letting off your favorite chicken burger. So you need not follow a strict regime. But let me aware you of the fact that this diet system decreases the frequency and quantity of your meat intake.

How much meat should I consume if I follow this diet regime?

You should be consuming 9 to 28 ounces of meat per week depending upon your allegiance.

How to begin with?

There are 3 stages by which you can gradually decrease your meat count.

  1. Beginner: Do not consume more than 28 ounces per week. You can go meat-free for 2 days a week.
  2. Intermediate:  Increase your intake of fruits and veggies. Have a full vegetarian diet for  3-4 days a week. Reduce your meat intake to 18 ounces for the rest of the days of the week.
  3.  Expert: Opt for complete vegetarian diet for 5 days a week. For the remaining 2 days, go for 9 ounces of meat. But mind it NOT MORE THAN THAT!

Can I consume dairy products?

YES. Since its flexible dieting, you can have dairy products (thanks to its nutritional values) but in moderation.

What benefits shall I reap?

  • Reduced risk of heart disease : Veggies are high in fiber and have antioxidants. Since meat have saturated fats, non veg foods buoy up cholesterol levels. This increases fat deposits in blood vessels, thereby making it difficult for sufficient blood to flow through the arteries. On the other hand, fiber rich diet and healthy fats reduce blood pressure and increase good cholesterol.

Flexitarian diet is not completely but mostly plant based, hence it shall give you the benefits of a veg diet.

  • Weight management :  Veggies are fiber rich, they keep your tummy full for longer hours, thereby reducing your hunger pangs. And being lower in calories, they help you to keep your weight under control.
  • Prevents diabetes :  Vegetarian diets are many times better for reducing the risk of Type-2 diabetes due to their weight management capability (thereby making your body more insulin responsive) and high fiber.  This benefit will incorporate in flexitarian diet to some extent.
  • Preventing cancer : There have been many debates over this topic. Evidences are limited, but some researchers believe that plant based foods have an added advantage over meat regarding this issue. Since vegetables and fruits have much lower calorie-count, they control your weight. Weight gain is one of the factors of some type of cancers.
  • Flexible : As the name suggests, you don’t need to forgo your favourite hamburger or your favourite juicy steak. Invite your friends at your place, cook them a delicious non veg meal and enjoy it with them. Wink!
  • Eco friendly :  Even after reading so many benefits, you are heavyhearted about having to let go off your fried chicken for most days of the week, let me tell you that not only you are improving your health but also the health of mother nature. YES… YOU READ THAT RIGHT. Farming livestock contributes a lot to greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing your intake of meat, you are stepping into the shoes of an environment warrior.

“Following a flexitarian lifestyle not only has a smaller environmental footprint, but patients often experience weight loss, have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and live 3.6 years longer”

Blatner

Great! So it’s completely healthy, right?

Actually not. Flexitarian comes with its cons.

  • Nutrition deficiency: Plant based diets may lack in some nutrition that meat meals provide such as omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc. In order to get the best of both worlds, plan your diet accordingly.
  • Difficult for regular meat eaters: This regime might become difficult for those who cannot even imagine one meat-free meal. In such case, I would suggest to gradually reduce your meat intake. Start with one day, then go on increasing to 3 or 4 days. In this way your body will get accustomed to vegetarian food and you will not indulge in unhealthy eating habits.
  • Lack of awareness: People are not well aware of flexitarian diet. Reducing meat intake and increasing veggies consumption does not mean that you can have added sugar and carbohydrates as this will lead you to nowhere.

Conclusion – Like all other things in the world, Fkexitarian diet comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. But with proper plan and tenacity, you can make the most out of it.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and let me know your comments in the comment section below.