The Flexitarian Diet
The Flexitarian Diet: What It Is
Have you ever been tempted to become a vegetarian but were daunted by the
prospect of giving up steak or Mom's famous chicken Parmesan? In The
Flexitarian Diet, author Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, says being a
"flexitarian" gives you the benefits of a vegetarian diet without having to
forgo meat entirely.
A relatively new term, flexitarian comes from a combination of the words
"flexible" and "vegetarian." Following a flexitarian diet simply means
eating more plant-based meals and less meat.
There's plenty of scientific evidence to support the healthfulness of a diet
made up mostly of plant foods. Studies show that vegetarians live 3.6
years longer and, on average, weigh 15% less than non-vegetarians. Blatner
estimates the average person could shed up to 30 pounds by sticking to the
flexitarian diet for 6-12 months.
"Vegetarianism is one of the healthiest and smartest ways to eat," she says,
"and it is perfectly acceptable to pepper in meat and still be able to gain all
the health benefits."
As a bonus, eating less meat is both environmentally and economically
"Meat and poultry tend to be the most expensive items on a grocery bill, so
downsizing can save money and is also an earth-friendly way to reduce
greenhouse gases," Blatner says.
The Flexitarian Diet aims to make it easier for people to transition to
eating less meat. The diet promotes fresh, natural, and seasonal foods
but also includes staple items from the pantry and freezer. Sprinkled
throughout it are "Flex Troubleshooters" -- tips for overcoming obstacles to
eating more plant foods and losing weight, based on Blatner’s experience
counseling overweight patients.
The Flexitarian Diet: What You Can Eat
An experienced cooking instructor, Blatner created more than 100 quick,
easy, and healthy recipes focused on five main ingredients -- dishes like
Millet Paella and Protein Popcorn. The recipes, designed to be filling, are
accompanied by nutrition information. Most include a "flex swap" option for
including animal protein.
A typical Flexitarian Diet day provides 1,500 calories, divided into three
meals and two snacks. Breakfast is 300 calories, lunch is 400, dinner is
500, and each snack is 150. Dieters can lower calories to 1,200 per day
by eliminating snacks, or increase them to 1,800 calories by doubling the
Although meat is limited, the diet plans contain approximately 50 grams of
Flexible five-week meal plans allow dieters to mix and match the
calorie-controlled recipes to create their own customized meals.
A sample day on the diet might include:
• Breakfast: Apple
and Almond Butter Toast or Sunflower Raisin Oatmeal
• Lunch: Avocado and
Black Bean Wraps or Marinated Garden Lentil Pita
• Dinner: Curried
Quinoa Salad or Fried Brown Rice with Asparagus and Almonds
• Snacks: Pizza
Popcorn or Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries
The diet includes a wide variety of foods, including familiar ones found any
grocery store along with some more unusual ones, like kefir, sunflower seed
butter, and tofu mousse, which may require a trip to the health food store.
And dining out is no problem on the Flexitarian Diet. The book offers
strategies for making healthy choices from restaurant menus.