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Flexitarian Diet

Managing Diabetes with DietSearching for the best diabetic diet – one that doesn’t involve counting calories or strict portion control? You may have heard about the Flexitarian diet, a plan that espouses the “less meat, more veggies” philosophy and doesn’t force followers to give up their carnivorous tendencies. Created by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN, a licensed dietician and spokesperson for the American Diabetic Association (ADA), the diet is all about being a flexible vegetarian. “Flexitarianism” can be described as a sensible approach to integrating more plant-based meals and reducing meat without eliminating it entirely. Those who want to read all about Flexitarian diet foods and menus can pick up a copy of Blatner’s book, The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease, and Add Years to Your Life, which has more than 100 recipes to choose from. According to the author and diet creator, “I developed this style of eating for people who know that vegetarianism is one of the healthiest and smartest ways to eat, but just don’t want to sit at a BBQ in the corner with an empty bun.”

Health benefits of the Flexitarian diet

The science behind the diet is solid, as medical studies have demonstrated that consuming more plant-based foods yields numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Individuals who follow Flexitarian diet menus can ostensibly lower their blood pressure, bring down triglyceride and cholesterol levels and help stabilize blood sugars, indicating that this may be a smart diet plan for diabetics. Vegetarians typically weigh about 15% less than meat-eaters and live roughly 3.6 years longer. The Flexitarian diet approach is meant to encourage steady weight loss through wholesome eating, allowing dieters to reap the benefits of a largely vegetarian diet without cutting out meat entirely.

How the Flexitarian diet works

At the core of this plan is the addition of more vegetarian foods into your daily menu. Instead of chicken and cheeseburgers, the “new meats” are foods like beans, lentils, tofu, peas, nuts and seeds, and eggs. Those who follow the Flexitarian diet will aim for at least 15 meat-free meals throughout the week, with each dish comprised of 25% protein, 25% whole grains and 50% produce. A five-week plan includes breakfast, lunch and dinner Flexitarian diet recipes, where meat is more of a side dish rather than the focal point. And similar to many ADA-approved diabetes diets, the plan promotes lots of fresh produce, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

Flexitarian diet menu

Flexitarians will consume about 1,500 calories each day, broken up into three meals and two snacks. Breakfast has 300 calories, lunch is 400, dinner is 500, and snacks have 150 calories each. Dieters can swap out low-calorie Flexitarian diet foods to their own liking. Here’s a sample daily menu:

Breakfast – Apple and almond butter toast

  • 1 slice whole-grain bread
  • 1½ tbsp. almond butter or peanut butter
  • 1 sliced apple

Lunch – Veggie Baja Burger

  • 1 vegetarian burger
  • 1 whole-grain hamburger bun
  • ¼ sliced avocado
  • ¼ cup radish or alfalfa sprouts
  • 2 tbsp. BBQ sauce
  • 1 orange

Snack – Pineapple with candied ginger and pecans

  • 3 no-sugar canned pineapple rings
  • 2 tsp. chopped candied ginger
  • 2 tsp. chopped pecans

Dinner – Cilantro peanut stir fry

  • ½ cup extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 2 tsp. peanut oil
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • Piece of grated ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Dessert – Spiced hot chocolate

  • 1 cup skim or soy milk
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Does the Flexitarian diet promote weight loss?

Flexitarian diet creator Dawn Blatner claims you can shed up to 30 pounds in six to 12 months simply by eating more plant-based foods and following a flexible vegetarian plan. While exercise isn’t mandatory, the diet encourages at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week. Since followers will be eating more good foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes, and relying less on processed items and fatty red meats, Flexitarians will likely lose weight.

Is the diet easy to follow?

Proponents say that the diet is relatively simple to follow, as dieters aren’t making drastic changes to their usual eating patterns. And since Blatner is also a cooking instructor, the 100+  Flexitarian diet recipes are both delicious and satisfying. Though touted as a nutritionally-sound approach, it does require an affinity for lots of plant-based foods, so some people may find it challenging to stick with over the long haul. As with any change in diet, it’s always wise to consult your health care provider before you start the plan—especially if you have a health condition like diabetes.

Physician-guided diabetic diet plan

While the Flexitarian diet may be a solid choice for its health benefits, when it comes to the prevention and management of diabetes, the advantages of physician-supported weight loss are time tested and proven. A diabetic diet plan available at The Center for Medical Weight Loss is customized to each client, taking into consideration your medical history, current medication needs and goals – ensuring you have the tools for lasting success. The Center’s nutrition experts will help design healthy menus and diabetic snacks that will keep blood sugar levels from spiking and encourage long-term weight loss.

Dr. Michael Kaplan, founder of the Center, explains “We see diabetic patients all the time who lose weight and no longer need insulin.” To learn more about a physician-developed diabetes diet simply enter your zip code in the box at the right. Special introductory offers are available for first-time customers in select locations.

Read about the Engine 2 Diet, and the DASH diet.