This flexible diet checks all boxes
A plant-based diet that claims to reduce carbon footprint and improve health with an eating regime that’s mostly vegetarian yet still allows for that occasional meat dish, surely sounds like the diet of your dreams. Flexitarian diet is a more flexible approach to vegetarianism, it entails reaping the benefits of eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains without discarding meat products. After all, in today’s ever changing world, flexibility is the key to maintaining a healthy and a sustainable body.
“This is an amazing diet protocol as it is all about maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle but on a few occasions having non-veg portions too. In my opinion, the ratio of 85:15 for the consumption of vegetarian and non-vegetarian, works excellent for the body. This diet will get good compliance from people as it gives liberty to eat non-vegetarian food as well,” says Dr. Geeta Grewal, Wellness Expert and Chief Consultant, 9Muses Wellness Clinic, Gurugram.
A plant-leaning lifestyle interspersed with pockets of meat is intriguing for many as most of us don’t want to part ways with butter chicken or chilli chicken completely.Coined by American dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner, the diet is a fusion of flexible and vegetarianism. She outlined the mostly plant-based plan in her 2009 book, The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life. Foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains, and produce are the mainstays, but, as she says, “it’s not anti-meat.”
Here the trick lies in choosing to eat good quality lean meat such as chicken or turkey. Ryan Fernando, Celebrity and Sports Nutritionist advises his athletes whom he trains to cut phase out meat slowly. He says, “If you eat three meals of non-vegetarian food, cut it down to one meal of non-vegetarian food per day and focus on white meats which would include chicken or fish to focus on a plant-based approach.”
A plant-based diet at every meal should include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and wholegrain foods. “Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, nuts and seeds in controlled portions can help us in eradicating many lifestyle diseases, which modern medicine is still trying to decode.”
It’s no brainer that people who consume a semi-vegetarian diet have lower body weight than those who regularly eat meat, as well as lower incidence of metabolic disease and lowered risk for type-II diabetes.
“Most of the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are lifestyle-related be it diabetes, cardiovascular issues, cancer, PCOD, or infertility and in such diseases, one has to consume food like a medicine,” says Dr Grewal. She believes a healthy lifestyle and food habit influences act as an epigenome, which in the long run can correct and influence how your genes manifest.
It always pays to indulge in mindful eating - less diseases, lower carbon footprint and a healthy life. And as Anil Khandelwal, Health & Wellness Expert, says,“Food carries vibrations. The vibrations are then connected with the soul. The food given to us by Mother Nature (fruits, vegetables) are meant to sustain us. This is good and pure intake of food for the well being of both - the body and the soul.”
Key points to follow for a Flexitarian diet
Set realistic goalsTry to reduce your meat consumption gradually by eating meatless diets once a week.
Re-portion your plateInstead of eating meat in large portions, treat the meat counterpart as a side-dish.
Consume more plant based proteinsAccomplish your protein requirements eating more plant based proteins such as legumes, beans, tofu, etc.
Find meat alternativesDon’t be shy away from experimenting with new vegetarian dishes that taste delicious and satiate your meat cravings.
Plan ahead Prepare meals in large portions and plan your meals ahead so that you don’t reach out for fried chicken or steak when you are hungry.
Inputs from Dietitian Garima