Benefits of a Flexitarian Diet
In the quest for a healthier life, “food perfectionism” can sometimes get in the way of good intentions. The problem is that depravation in any form, whether it’s skipping the family BBQ because you don’t want to be pressured to eat mayo-laden salads or spending girl’s night out staring longingly at the tray of “off-limits” brownies, isn’t sustainable or practical. Not to mention, an all or nothing approach to food can certainly diminish your joy (a crucial part of Primary Food!)
That’s why at Integrative Nutrition we teach the 90/10 principle. Eat foods that are good for your body 90% of the time and be more lenient the other 10%. This approach gives you the freedom to truly thrive without any depravation.
Flexitarianism is one such diet that follows this mantra. It’s all about freedom and (you guessed it) flexibility!
In his book, Integrative Nutrition, IIN Founder and Director Joshua Rosenthal refers to flexitarians as people who are flexible about what’s on their plates. They aren’t overly obsessed with eating a specific way that it interferes with their lives.
Flexitarianism can also mean eating a predominantly plant-based diet but occasionally indulging in meat. This form Flexitarianism—as in eating less meat—was named one of the top plant-based diets for 2017, according to U.S. News and World Report.
If you’re considering a flexitarian diet, here are some of the benefits you might enjoy:
- Promotes weight loss
According to 87 studies published in Nutrition Reviews, vegetarians weigh about 15 percent less than those who regularly consume meat, says U.S. News. And flexitarians also tend to weigh less than meat eaters. Of course, it depends on how often you choose to eat meat. Some flexitarians eat meat only once a week, while others eat it every day for only one meal.
- Adds plant-based foods to your diet
Registered dietitian nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner, who wrote The Flexitarian Diet book, says flexitarianism isn’t about the amount of meat you cut out—it’s about how many plant-based foods you add, such as nuts and beans. As you add more of these plant-based foods, the idea is that you’ll “crowd out” the meats, as we refer to it at Integrative Nutrition.
- Improves heart health
Following a flexitarian diet has been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels and, as a result, will likely also lower blood pressure and improve heart health, according to Greatist.
- Helps the environment
Reducing meat consumption can help the environment by reducing water usage, greenhouse gases and fuel dependence. Livestock needs much more water than plant-based foods, says Meatless Monday: Approximately 1,850 gallons of water are necessary to produce a single pound of beef, compared with only 39 gallons of water for a pound of vegetables. Meat also produces greenhouse gases and uses fossil fuel energy.
Do you consider yourself a flexitarian? What’s your experience been like? Share with us in the comments below!