What is a flexitarian diet?
A flexitarian diet is a flexible approach to eating that focuses on incorporating more plant-based foods while still allowing for the occasional consumption of meat and animal products. It is essentially a combination of a vegetarian diet and a regular omnivorous diet, making it a more achievable option for those hesitant about committing to a fully vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
The key to a successful flexitarian diet plan is choosing the right foods. Here is a list of some of the most commonly recommended plant-based and animal products to include in a flexitarian diet:
- Plant-based foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), nuts and seeds.
- Animal products: lean meats such as chicken and fish, dairy products like milk and yogurt, and eggs.
However, it is essential to note that the amount of animal products consumed in a flexitarian diet should be significantly less than in a typical omnivorous diet. The focus should be on increasing plant-based foods and decreasing meat consumption.
Why Choose a flexitarian diet?
One might follow a flexitarian diet for many reasons, including health benefits and weight loss. Studies have shown that reducing meat consumption and incorporating more plant-based foods can lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer (Derbyshire, 2017; Forestell, 2018; International Food Information Council Foundation, n.d).
Additionally, a flexitarian diet may help with weight loss due to the emphasis on healthy whole foods and decreased intake of highly processed foods. Focusing on nutrient-dense options, such as whole grains and healthy fats, while limiting unhealthy fats and highly processed foods makes it easier to stay within a calorie deficit and lose weight.
In addition to personal health benefits, a flexitarian diet can positively impact the environment. Animal agriculture is responsible for a significant portion of greenhouse gas emissions, and by reducing the consumption of animal products, individuals can help reduce their carbon footprint (Wolfson, 2019).
Check out our free Flexitarian Diet Food List for a healthier lifestyle
How does it work?
Step 1. Obtain the template
To obtain a digital and printable flexitarian diet food list as required, you can follow these steps:
- Choose either the "Download Template" or "Use Template" option.
- Employ the search function within Carepatron's template library, whether on the website or app, by entering "Flexitarian Diet Food List" as your search query.
Step 2. Read the content
The primary purpose of this chart is to serve as a valuable reference for individuals seeking information regarding permissible foods and foods to limit in a flexitarian diet.
Step 3. Create your meal plan
Feel free to brainstorm a meal plan with your client, utilizing the template as a resource, and write initial dish ideas in the notes area at the list of foods.
Alternatively, you are free to write down your meal plan on a separate sheet that you can store and access on Carepatron, a software where you can store electronic patient records. Carepatron adheres to HIPAA-compliant standards, so you're assured of the privacy and safety of details discussed during your consultation.
Flexitarian Diet Food List example (sample)
We have prepared a PDF document showcasing a completed example if you require guidance on effectively utilizing the flexitarian food diet list template. This document is available in both digital and printable formats for your convenience.
It is imperative to emphasize that all the information in this exemplar template is entirely fictitious and provided solely for explanatory purposes. Additionally, please remember that our sample template illustrates one of the many ways you can use the blank template. Feel free to explore alternative approaches that align with your specific practice requirements.
This invaluable resource is easily accessible by reviewing the sample template below or selecting the "Download Example PDF" button. By doing so, you will access a fully completed, illustrative version of the template, which can serve as a practical point of reference in your professional endeavors.
When would you use this list?
The Flexitarian Diet is a dietary approach that combines the flexibility of omnivorous eating while benefitting from having a predominantly plant-based lifestyle. The flexitarian diet and its corresponding food list is a choice to consider in multiple situations like the following:
Transitioning to a more plant-based diet
If your client is contemplating a dietary shift towards a more plant-based lifestyle but hesitates to eliminate meat, the Flexitarian Diet offers a suitable compromise. It includes occasional animal products while encouraging plant-based foods at every meal. This promotes better health through increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Bridging the gap for meat lovers
For individuals who have considered a vegetarian diet but were deterred by their love for dishes like burgers, steak, or fried chicken, the Flexitarian Diet provides a practical solution. It permits occasional meat consumption, allowing individuals to enjoy their favorite dishes while incorporating more plant-based options into their routine.
Enhancing nutritional choices
The Flexitarian Diet is designed for anyone seeking a more nutritious diet without entirely forgoing their preferred meat-based treats. It encourages a gradual reduction in meat consumption by initially omitting meat a few days a week and thoughtfully distributing meat intake over the remaining five days.
The Flexitarian Diet offers a range of health benefits, including a lowered risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, improved heart health by reducing high blood pressure and heart disease risk, enhanced digestion due to higher fiber content, and better cardiovascular health by reducing saturated fat intake. Moreover, it can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Do note, however, that your client should consult with a registered dietician first, if you're not one, before embarking on a new diet plan, especially if they have underlying health conditions. Furthermore, they should constantly update you on any negative physical symptoms they feel throughout their journey so you or their registered dietician can intervene immediately.
Research & evidence
The Flexitarian Diet has garnered attention in nutrition, and several studies and articles have explored its potential health benefits. Here's a summary of three studies/articles and their findings on the benefits of following the diet and utilizing a diet food list:
- According to an article entitled “Flexitarian Diets and Health: A Review of the Evidence-Based Literature" that reviewed over 25 studies, there's emerging evidence that following a flexitarian or semi-vegetarian diet may benefit one's body weight/metabolic health/blood pressure, reduce one's risk of type 2 diabetes, and may play a role in treating inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Research that involved over 10.000 individuals published in US News Health shows that the flexitarian diet can help enhance one's overall health and well-being, specifically reducing the risk of inflammation and developing heart disease and preventing type 2 diabetes, among others.
- Scientific research cited in the "What is a flexitarian diet?" article on BBC Good Food also indicated that a flexitarian diet, combined with physical activity, can reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer.
Do note that even with all these studies, a healthcare practitioner is still encouraged to inform patients about the potential risks associated with the diet and to consider the patient's medical history, dietary needs, and lifestyle to further personalize a flexitarian diet food list.
Derbyshire, E. (2017). Flexitarian Diets and Health: A Review of the Evidence-Based Literature. Frontiers in Nutrition, 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2016.00055
Dietitian, E. D. –. (2022, May 17). What is a flexitarian diet? BBC Good Food. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-flexitarian-diet
The Flexitarian Diet Health and Nutrition. (n.d.). https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/flexitarian-diet/health-nutrition
Forestell, C. A. (2018). Flexitarian Diet and Weight Control: Healthy or Risky Eating Behavior? Frontiers in Nutrition, 5, Article 59. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2018.00059
International Food Information Council Foundation. (n.d.). What Is the Flexitarian Diet? FoodInsight. Retrieved from https://foodinsight.org/what-is-the-flexitarian-diet/
Wolfson, S. (2019, January 19). Could flexitarianism save the planet? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/19/could-flexitarianism-save-the-planet