Flexitarian Diet Review

What’s it Really All About? 8 Questions Answered.

1

Overview: Where did the DASH diet come from and what is it exactly?

Coined by registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner in her 2009 book, the Flexitarian Diet is a plant-based diet with the flexibility to add in small amounts of meat when you want to.

Rather than explicitly taking away meat, it encourages the inclusion of more plant proteins (including tofu, beans, lentils, peas nuts and seed), whole grains, fruits, veggies, dairy, eggs and flavor boosters, such as spices and chocolate. Beginner flexitarians generally stick to a vegetarian diet twice a week, advanced flexitarians go vegetarian four days a week, and experts skip the meat five days a week. Luckily, Blatner makes the transition to a more vegetarian lifestyle easy by including a wide variety of plant based recipes in her book, including some traditionally meat-based recipes that highlight plant proteins instead. She keeps her recipes simple, each including only 5 ingredients, and encourages making small changes in order to help you make new sustainable habits.

2

Tell me more: Program Details

Exercise The Flexitarian Diet, itself, is not associated with a particular exercise program. However, in her book, Blatner encourages developing an exercise routine and provides guidance on how to establish a regimen that fits into your schedule and that is sustainable long term. In her five “Flex Fitness Factors” she teaches you to see the world as your gym and provides guidance about how to stay motivated and overcome barriers to exercise.
Supplements Blatner suggests that all adults take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to make sure that key nutrients are not being omitted from the diet. In particular, she suggests taking a gender-specific multivitamin in order to account for different iron requirements.
Counseling/ Support The Flexitarian Diet is self-guided. The term “flex” indicates that it is flexible and therefore transitioning into a more vegetarian lifestyle can happen at your own pace and with your own set of food rules. Blatner’s book is informative and a great resource for those looking to embrace a more plant based lifestyle. She even provides five “FlexLife troubleshooters” to help you make sustainable changes, but no in-person support or counseling is provided.
3

Is there research supporting the Flexitarian Diet?

Flexitarian Diets: A Review of Evidence-Based Literature: In 2017 The NCBI reviewed The Flexitarian Diet in its effectiveness promoting weight loss and overall health. After conducting an extensive literature review of research on flexitarian-like diets between 2000 and 2016, NCBI concluded that there is substantial evidence pointing towards the benefits of a Flexitarian Diet for weight loss, improvements of metabolic health, and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

4

What’s a sample diet plan?

Breakfast
1 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp honey and ½ banana (sliced)
1 piece of toast with 2 Tbsp almond butter
Lunch
Chickpea Wrap:
1 tortilla
1 cup canned chickpeas
1 cup spinach
½ cup chopped cherry tomatoes, yogurt cilantro tzatziki sauce
1 cup carrots
2 Tbsp hummus
Snack
1 apple
2 Tbsp walnut butter
2 pieces of dark chocolate (80% or higher)
Dinner
Quinoa Burger:
1 piece of pita bread (cut in half to create 2 pockets
1 quinoa burger (½ into each pocket)
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
½ heirloom tomato
1 serving Tzatziki Sauce
Salad:
1 cup spinach
Handful of feta cheese
⅓ cup walnuts
½ pear
Desert
1 banana
5

Praise, Critiques, and Cautions

Praise

In reviewing the Flexitarian Diet, it’s clear that one of its main strengths is the emphasis it places on eating fruits and vegetables. Health professionals, including RDs and MDs, advocate for all people to consume more whole plant-based foods. Research has shown that vegetarians and semi-vegetarians (aka flexitarians) have lower BMI’s, lower mortality rates, and are at a decreased risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Mark Bittman, a healthy living advocate and the food columnist for the New York Times, has also been a popular advocate for the Flexitarian Diet. The combination of Bittman’s book, VB6, with Blatner’s book, The Flexitarian Diet, has helped to bring the Flexitarian Diet into the public spotlight and has greatly increased its popularity.

Critiques

If you don’t already like fruits and vegetables, this diet might be hard to follow. And if you don’t like to cook, you might have trouble following the guidelines and recipes. While flexibility allows you to eat the foods you want when you want them, that lack of structure might mean slower weight loss for some.

6

Summary: Why is this a top diet?

Numerous studies have reviewed The Flexitarian (or vegetarian-like) Diets and have indicated that plant-based diets have numerous health benefits. Eating a predominantly vegetarian diet can help you lose weight and potentially reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Blanter’s book is backed by evidence and the tips she provides have proven to be successful in her work as a registered dietitian. Through her personal practice as an RD, Blatner has helped many clients achieve their weight loss goals so she knows firsthand what works and what doesn’t. Another benefit is that The Flexitarian Diet provides much more leeway than other diets when it comes to eating out and drinking. This makes dieting easier since you don’t have to sacrifice your social life for your health goals.

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Using MealEnders to support you on the Flexitarian Diet

The Flexitarian Diet is all about creating healthier eating habits that are sustainable and adaptable to your lifestyle. While the main focus is to incorporate more plant foods into your diet, you could also use this as a time to re-work some old food habits that might not be serving you. Perhaps you are in the habit of having a late dessert right before bed? Try having a MealEnder instead of ice cream. Getting rid of these extra unneeded snacks, while transitioning to a plant-based diet will help you lose the extra weight and improve your health even faster.

8

How do I learn more about the Flexitarian Diet?

The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent

Disease, and Add years to Your Life: This is Blatner’s first book. The book is structured around the theme of “five.” It provides a five-week meal plan along with recipes, as well as five “Flex Fitness Factors” to help you build a solid exercise foundation, more than 100 five-ingredient recipes, and five “FlexLife Troubleshooters” intended to help you make sustainable changes to your diet. Blatner encourages her readers to make small changes one at a time instead of making a complete diet overhaul.

VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to lose Weight and Restore Your Health…For Good: In this book Mark Bittman describes his own journey to health using a Flexitarian Diet. He also offers guidance on how to switch to eating mostly vegetarian. He provides a list of staple pantry items, strategies for eating away from home, tips for making cooking easier and more convenient, and a 28-day meal plan.

*Individual Results May Vary