Diet and Mortality
The consumption of red and processed meat is linked to an increased mortality risk, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer. (1) Vegetarian diets have been shown to positively affect blood lipid profiles while providing a reduced risk of contracting diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and cancer. (2) So, it is no surprise that there is a growing trend to reduce the intake of animal products for health and environmental reasons. This way of eating is called the semi-vegetarian diet (SVD) but is also known as a Flexitarian diet (FD). Meat intake is reduced in this diet with increased consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. According to Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, author of The Flexitarian Diet, there are varying ways to decrease meat consumption. Still, overall, there is a conscious reduction in total meat intake. (3)
Changing your diet can be overwhelming, so I recommend making gradual changes rather than drastic ones. Adding a vegetarian or vegan meal a couple of nights per week is a great place to start. However, another strategy would be to have a “meatless” lunch, such as a salad with vegetables and beans or tofu. Remember, you are less likely to stick to a diet if it is forced upon you. Try to include foods you like rather than foods you think you should have. Make it a lifestyle choice rather than a diet.
Semi-Vegetarian or Flexitarian Diet
The literature backs up the health benefits of consuming an FD or SVD. Derbyshire found evidence linking the SVD diet to a reduction in body weight, improved blood pressure, and decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. (4) In agreement, Kim and colleagues reported that postmenopausal women who utilized the SVD for over 20 years had significantly lower body weights and body mass index when compared to counterparts who followed a non-vegetarian eating plan. (5) Derbyshire also concluded that there is a possible link for SVD being effective in treating inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. (4) While the exact mechanism for this is unknown, Chiba and colleagues suggest that there had been some evidence that a plant-based diet may reduce gut inflammation, possibly due to the use of dietary fiber. (6)
In conclusion, reducing meat intake affects overall health positively. However, instead of being overwhelmed by sweeping changes in your diet, you can begin by making small modifications in your daily eating habits. Below is a list of easy ways to transition your diet to a Flexitarian plan.
- Make overnight oatmeal with coconut, almond, or oat milk and add fruit of choice
- Have a large salad daily at lunch or dinner with garbanzo or another type of beans
- Top salad with slivered almonds or sunflower seeds for more protein and healthy fat
- Snack on hummus or peanut butter with fruit or vegetables
- Have a meatless meal one to two times per week
- Limit daily intake of cheese
- Make a fruit smoothie with peanut butter, coconut milk, and fruit
- Roast some tofu and add to a bowl of brown rice and vegetables
- Use lentils instead of ground beef in Bolognese Sauce
- Sprinkle quinoa, which has over 8 grams of protein per cup, on salads, or use it instead of rice
Vegan Avocado Sandwich
Prep time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: 2
Nutrition Highlights: 225 calories and 6.85 grams of protein per serving
· 1 avocado
· 1 cup of garbanzo beans
· 1 teaspoon juice from a lemon or lime
· 1/3 cup of diced tomato
· 2 tablespoons dill relish
1. Mash 1 avocado
2. Mash 1 cup of garbanzo beans
3. Add 1 teaspoon juice from a lemon
4. Mix in 1/3 cup of diced tomato
5. Add 2 tablespoons dill relish
6. Serve on your favorite whole grain bread or use as a dip with whole grain chips; Top with baby spinach, if desired.
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- Battaglia Richi E, Baumer B, Conrad B, Darioli R, Schmid A, Keller U. Health Risks Associated with Meat Consumption: A Review of Epidemiological Studies. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2015;85(1-2):70-8.
- Oussalah A, Levy J, Berthezène C, Alpers DH, Guéant JL. Health outcomes associated with vegetarian diets: An umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Clin Nutr. 2020 Nov;39(11):3283-3307.
- Blatner, D. The Flexitarian Diet. McGraw Hill; 2009.
- Derbyshire EJ. Flexitarian diets and health: a review of the evidence-based literature. Front Nutr. 2017; 3:55.
- Kim MH, Bae YJ. Comparative study of serum leptin and insulin resistance levels between Korean postmenopausal vegetarian and non-vegetarian women. Clin Nutr Res (2015) 4(3):175–81.
- Chiba M, Ohno H, Ishii H, Komatsu M. Plant-based diets in Crohn’s disease. Perm J (2014) 18(4):94.
2 thoughts on “Simple Tips to Eat Healthy in 2023”
Once you begin to eat healthy, unhealthy food in just unappealing. And your body thanks you.
I agree! Sweet foods that I don’t normally eat taste way too sweet now.