Flexitarian diets are now a huge international health trend. Not much has been written or practised on these lines in India as yet. But we did find it intriguing and decided to explore this nutritional trend for our readers. So we consulted award-winning dietitian, Sarika Apre Nair and picked her brain on being Flexitarian in the urban Indian scenario. Read on.
What is a Flexitarian diet?
Flexible + Vegetarian = Flexitarian. Simple!
“Flexitarian” is a hot-new term for healthy dieting that minimises meat without excluding it altogether. If you’re an irrepressible carnivore, follow a Flexitarian Diet. This way, you don’t have to eliminate meat completely to reap the health benefits of vegetarianism. Becoming a flexitarian is about adding food groups to your diet – not taking any away.
So, as the name implies, a Flexitarian diet is all about flexibility. It is an all-inclusive diet that helps heavy meat-eaters to maintain a healthy balance.
Propounded by American registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, in her book The Flexitarian Diet, this is basically the best of both worlds on your plate. It is a conscious effort to convert your meat-heavy diet to adopt eating habits that include veggies, whole grains, fruits, legumes and lentils.
How suitable is this diet for Indians?
‘Flexitarian Diet is suitable for Indians as we are primarily vegetable eaters. We have days of the week when eating a plant-based diet is mandatory. So following a flexi pattern is easy for us’, says Sarika, who consults as the brand SlimnHappy.
How exactly can we adopt a Flexitarian Diet?
Include different types of plant-based proteins in your diet like lentils, beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, tofu, paneer and soy, recommends Sarika.
Be sure to include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables in your meals and have whole grains.
How much weight can I lose?
No diet plan is a miracle that makes you lean at the twirl of a wand. Sarika cites many factors like your body type, health status and how much meat you are used to eating before starting this plan, that determine the eventual weight loss. ‘This diet does help to lose weight and be healthy’, she asserts. Studies have shown that plant-based diets lower your cholesterol levels, BMI and risk factor of type 2 diabetes.
What lifestyle changes do I need to incorporate with Flexitarian diets?
Include 30-45 minutes of daily exercise. ‘You can do it for 30 minutes at a stretch or in slots of 10 minutes each. Try and be physically active wherever possible,’ Sarika guides.
On the days that you eat meat, choose healthier meats like chicken and seafood. Avoid processed meats like sausages and salami. Also, good sleep is very vital.
While we won’t prescribe a Flexitarian diet to you here, you’re most welcome to connect with Sarika and fine one that suits you the best! Happy Flexitarianism to you!