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The flexitarian option to healthy eating

Food pyramids can be a helpful way to understand how to eat healthy
Food pyramids can be a helpful way to understand how to eat healthy

Many people have listened to the nutrition science and realize that they need to eat better. The overwhelming advice is that most people need to increase the amounts of fruits and vegetables in their diets. Many people resist making these changes for a variety of reasons. Part of it is just lifestyle habits, and part of it is convenience. Many people want to eat a more plant based diet but they do not know how to do that well.

In the past the talk was that to be healthy you had to eat vegetarian. Vegetarianism is often too extreme for many people and can be unhealthy if not done well. Some people try to go vegetarian and end up eating large quantities of grain based foods, peanut butter and fake meat substitutes. These foods are not bad, however they should not be the core of a vegetarian diet.

One of the best compromises is a flexitarian diet. The idea is to cook vegetarian most of the time and occasionally allow meat and dairy into the diet. There are many ways to slowly transition into this type of healthy diet. It can start by eliminating meat one day a week and then slowly decreasing the use of meats to a level that the person is comfortable with. One common variety is to eat vegetarian at all times except when eating in social situations like holidays and dining with friends.

An important part of flexitarian eating is the adherence to healthy vegetarian diet as much as possible and use the occasional meat to make it easier to meet nutritional needs. Eating a diet that is high in breads, grains, cheese and peanut butter and heavily processed food is not a healthy way to eat vegetarian. The organization Oldways publishes guides to healthy vegetarian eating. Their new vegetarian food pyramid is a quick visual guide to how to eat a healthy plant based diet. The pyramid was devised by experts to provide advice on proper nutrition. Looking at the pyramid, it is easy to see that for a really healthy diet, grains, dairy and nut butters make up a small percentage of the daily recommended diet.

Flexitarian diets should be looked at as a lifestyle and a way of thinking about food. It is a great compromise that allows people to decide how far in the direction of vegetarian they want to go. People can retain the ability to enjoy special dinners with friends, and not have to worry about some of the nutritional concerns that go along with being a full vegetarian or vegan eater.