Are you seeking a diet that is free from restriction, good for your health, easy to manage, makes eating out a breeze and isn’t actually really a diet?
Then lucky for you, there is a popular new diet on the menu, which I would like to bring to your attention. It’s called flexitarian eating. A perfect option for those who always want what they can’t have or who are readily struck down with a serious case of food FOMO.
Flexitarian is a dietary regime that focuses on vegetarian and vegan eating but doesn’t eliminate animal-based products entirely. Animal-based products (ie meat, dairy, eggs and fish) are simply limited and eaten when felt like. For instance, you may eat plant-based all day and then add some chicken, fish or red meat to your dinner plate. There are no rules or restrictions, it is, as the name suggests, flexible!
Vegetarian and vegan diets are typically high in vegetables, fruits, fibre and antioxidants while being low in saturated and trans fatty acids. Accordingly, this way of eating has been proven to be beneficial for heart health, weight, blood sugar management, gut health and lowering levels of oxidative stress. Helloooo anti-aging!
However, despite all the advantages of plant-based diets, some people just do not seem to thrive on plant-based living. Animal products provide a more bioavailable source of important minerals including zinc, iodine and iron, all of which help with energy production and overall feelings of wellbeing. Also, the body is less efficient at converting fats from plant-based foods into essential fatty acids, making it difficult to rely solely on vegetarian sources of essential fatty acids.
How to flex?
Flexing is easy and requires little effort on your behalf, that’s the best part! There are no set ways with flexing, no rules to follow, no guides required, it’s completely up to you. It is a way of eating, a lifestyle and certainty not a diet.
You may choose to limit the frequency of animal-based proteins or you may simply choose to cut down on portions. For instance, opting to garnish your salad with meat as opposed to having meat with a “side” salad. It’s about crowding out the animal-based proteins with plant-based sources.
When choosing to eat animal-based products, quality does count. Try to choose grass-fed meat, organic, free-range chicken and eggs, wild-caught fish and organic dairy to get the most nutrition out of what you are putting in your body.
Ready to flex?
Here are some plant-based protein sources to help get you started:
- Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans, cannellini beans etc
- Nuts and seeds
- Tahini paste and hummus
- Tofu, tempeh and soybeans
- Wholegrains: quinoa, brown rice and sprouted grain bread
- Protein power: brown rice and pea protein
Just looking for a taste test? Here are some ways to start tipping the balance of your diet:
- Adopt meat-free Monday each week
- Swap eggs for avocado on your morning toast
- Scramble tofu instead of eggs for breakfast
- Add lentils to a homemade tomato pasta sauce instead of mince
- Make a stir-fry using 50 per cent tofu and 50 per cent pork
Still can’t imagine what a flexitarian day of eating looks like? Not to worry, the below has you covered:
- Breakfast: half an avocado, hummus and tomato on soy and linseed toast
- Lunch: roast vegetable, chickpea and buckwheat pasta salad
- Dinner: soba noodle and vegetable salad with baked salmon fillet or chicken
- Snacks: raw nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, wholegrain crackers and beetroot dip or natural yoghurt
All in all, a flexitarian approach to eating is perfect for those who want the best of both worlds when it comes to eating. Unlike most diet regimes, flexitarian eating bypasses major food envy and won’t leave you feeling deprived. But most importantly, it is a lifestyle, not a diet, that caters to you, not the other way around, what more could you ask for!?