The Flexitarian Diet is a way of eating that promotes eating mainly plant-based foods while allowing meat and other animal products to be consumed in moderate amounts. It is believed to be more flexible than completely vegan diets or vegetarian. The Flexitarian diet is a healthy eating pattern that does not include stringent dietary rules and calorie counting. While it delivers all the perks of good nutrition. In recent times, the Flexitarian diet has gained huge popularity as it confers immense health incentives and augments overall health.
Read this article to get an overview of the Flexitarian Diet, its benefits, and food to eat and avoid.
What Is Flexitarian Diet?
The Flexitarian diet was formulated by dietitian Dwan Jackson Blatner to support people earn the wellness benefits of vegetarian eating, while still relishing meat products in moderation. The diet derives its name from the combination of the words “flexible” and “vegetarian”.
Usually, vegetarians refrain from meat and other animal products, while vegans completely avoid meat, fish, eggs, dairy and all other animal-obtained food essentials. Since flexitarians consume animal products, they are not considered vegetarians or vegans.
The Flexitarian Diet has no set rules or calorie counting. But it’s more a lifestyle change than a diet practice.
The Flexitarian Diet is based on the following guidelines:
- Have plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains
- Pay attention to plant-based protein instead of animals
- Be flexible and add meat and animal products occasionally
- Consume natural and whole foods
- Restrict processed foods
- Limit added sugar and sweets
The flexible nature of this diet mainly focuses on what one should eat rather than what to restrict, thus making the Flexitarian diet a popular choice for people looking to eat healthier and more nutritious food.
The ultimate goal of this diet is to have more nutritious plant-based whole foods and less meat.
Foods To Eat
Foods to eat regularly include:
- Proteins: Soybeans, tofu, tempeh, legumes, lentils
- Non-starchy vegetables: Greens, bell peppers, green beans, carrots, cauliflower
- Starchy vegetables: Pumpkin, peas, corn, sweet potato
- Fruits: Apples, oranges, berries, grapes, cherries
- Whole grains: Quinoa, wheat, oats, buckwheat,
- Nuts, and seeds: Almonds, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios,
- Healthy Fats: Avocados, olives, coconut
- Plant-based milk alternatives: Almond, coconut, and soy milk (unsweetened)
- Spices and herbs: Basil, oregano, mint, thyme, cumin, turmeric, ginger
- Condiments: Soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, mustard, ketchup without added sugar
- Beverages: Water, tea, coffee
While adding animal products, choose the following when possible:
- Egg: organic, farm-raised
- Poultry: organic, farm-raised
- Fish: wild-caught
- Meat: grass-fed
- Dairy: organic from grass-fed or pastured animals
Foods To Restrict
Foods to limit include:
- Processed meats
- Refined carbs
- Added sugar and sweets
- Fast food
Potential Health Benefits of Flexitarian Diet
Evidence has shown that the Flexitarian diet may support the control of type 2 diabetes. The diet stresses eating plant-based foods such as legumes, fruits, whole grains, seeds, vegetables, and nuts and limits most animal products. Laden with dietary fibre and phytonutrients following this diet pattern remarkably reduces blood sugar spikes and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Promotes Weight Loss
A Flexitarian diet is a well-balanced diet that restricts the intake of meat products, processed foods and sugar. Also, a study disclosed that this diet offers vital nutrients which diminished cholesterol and fat in the body, thereby aiding in losing excess kilos. Besides these, this diet helps maintain weight, as it restricts the consumption of refined sugar and highly processed food and fosters low-calorie nutrient-dense food. Thus, people following this diet lose more weight and maintain lost weight.
Dietary patterns heaped with nutritious and wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes and low in highly processed foods, meat and red meat are linked with a lower risk of certain types of cancer. Furthermore, research suggests that vegetarian diets are associated with a lower overall incidence of all cancers.
Augments Heart Health
The Flexitarian diet is a good source of natural fibre, antioxidants and healthy fats that are incredibly beneficial for optimising cardiac health and functions. Also, this diet pattern reduces blood pressure and increases good cholesterol.
Boosts Skin Health
The Flexitarian diet is imbued with a treasure trove of nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, and E and polyphenols. These nutrients help to neutralise free radicals damaging healthy skin cells, lower inflammation, shield the skin against UV rays and improve skin barrier function and promote collagen synthesis.
Well, a Flexitarian diet when planned well can be very healthier. But a few people may be at risk of nutritional deficiencies when they cut down on animal products, depending on the nutritional value of their other food preferences. Some of the nutrients that may be deficient include:
Omega-3 fatty acids