Derived from two words: Flexible and Vegetarian, the Flexitarian diet is ranked #3 in Best Diets Overall (U.S. News Best Diet Rankings) among 30 other popular diets. Also known as ‘casual vegetarianism’, Flexitarian diet is quite popular in western countries and slowly gaining momentum in India as well. Purely a plant-based diet, flexitarian diet not only helps reduce toxins in your body but also improves overall health with a proper eating regime.
Here’s some more insight to this regime:
What is a Flexitarian Diet?
Flexitarian diet was introduced in the United States by a renowned nutritionist over a
decade ago. The diet highlights an increased intake of plant-based meals like lentils, beans, peas, nuts and seeds etc.
International statistics say that flexitarians weigh 15 per cent less than their meat eating
counterparts. The study also states that flexitarians have a lower risk of heart diseases, diabetes and other chronic diseases. It also reveals that the lifespan of a flexitarian is 3-4 years more than their meat-eating counterparts.
How Does it work?
All one has to do is add five food groups to their diet.
1.The New Meat: You are not eating meat but mimicking it. You get the same nutrition that you get from meat, in terms of micronutrients and proteins. The new meat sources are tofu, beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds and eggs.
2. Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables: Consuming a lot of seasonal / local fruits and vegetables is the second addition to the diet. The ICMR or FDA guidelines say that one should take 3-5 servings of fruits/vegetables, but in a flexitarian diet the serving of the same is slightly more than this guideline. For example, if cucumber is in season then a generous serving of the same should be added.
3.Whole Grains: The Flexitarian diet excludes any greens / grains which are refined like white flour or rice. All grains that are included in this diet should be whole grains like barley,
buckwheat, millets, lentils etc.
4. Adding A Lot Of Spices And Herbs: Indian spices like cinnamon and turmeric are excellent for weight loss; there are cardio-protective spices like black pepper and spices which are anti-cancer. In India, there are much lesser cases of Alzheimers and Parkinson’s, as compared to the U.S. Indians consume a variety of spices which are neuroprotective, they allow our nervous system to be robust for a longer time and arrest the degeneration process, which makes us less susceptible to neurological diseases.
5.Sugar: In a flexitarian diet, white sugar is prohibited but sugar in various other forms like honey, jaggery, palm sugar etc. should be added.
The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) recommends that 30% of your energy should
come from protein, 15-20% from fat and rest from carbohydrates. But in flexitarian diet, you are required to increase your source of protein like adding plenty of millets like jowar, bajra, ragi etc. If we compare the Keto diet with the flexitarian diet, the former uses more fat but flexitarian adds more protein, mostly vegetarian protein.
When a diet is prescribed, the economy of the diet is also considered. For example, eating
kiwis or broccoli to the diet every day won’t suit everybody. Hence, the flexitarian diet turns out to be much more economical than other meat-based diets. No expensive ingredients are required, so groceries shouldn't cost more than they typically do.