Those of you who know me know that I am passionate about nutrition. I am also very passionate about animals and the environment. When those passions mix, it becomes clear that our food choices effect the environment. With Earth Day last month and movies such as Food Inc. and Avatar, we are reminded the choices made today make a difference in our future. Not only are these choices making a difference in the environment, they also affect our bodies.
My practice is made up of people struggling in the trenches of an eating disorder as well as those trying to keep their blood sugars in control with the multi-organ complications of diabetes. In each of these diagnoses, food choices do make a difference. It is my responsibility to make sure my clients are provided with the most up-to-date research, as well as, to enhance confidence and knowledge to make their own choices. One of these choices is flexitarianism. Flexitarianism is defined as a vegetarian who is flexible to occasionally eat fish and meat. Now why would this be beneficial?
1) You continue to eat the nutrients found in meats and fish vs. supplementation
2) It takes LOTS energy to make the food for and out of animals
3) Fish is a source of fuel for many other animals besides humans. We are seeing the effects of overfishing in the environment now
My intent is not to discount the nutrition provided in meats and fish because these foods are filled with amazing nutrients including vitamin B12, iron, zinc, B6, niacin, selenium, phosphorus, and protein. I am simply suggesting you eat vegetarian type foods 2-3 times a week. These meals will still provide adequate nutrition for your body.
When you eat less meat, you are opening yourself up to eating more plant foods. Research studies have proven that plant based diets provide more fight against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and weight management. According to the American Dietetic Association, “wellplanned vegetarian and vegan diets are nutritionally adequate.”
In a 2006 study, published in the Diabetes Care journal, researcher Neil Barnard, M.D. compared the typical ADA diet to a vegan diet. The ADA diet was 15-20% protein, 60-70% carbohydrate and 25% fat with emphasis on monounsaturated fat and no more than 7% saturated fat or 200 mg cholesterol. The ADA diet in this study was calorie controlled at 500 calories below typical intake. The vegan diet was very low fat at 10% of the total calories from fat, 15% protein, and 75% carbohydrates. In the vegan diet, there was NO RESTRICTION on total calories, portion sizes or food intake.
Vegan Diet: 43% ↓ in diabetes meds, 14 lb wt loss, 21% ↓LDL, ↓A1C by 1.23%
ADA Diet: 26% ↓ meds, 7 lb wt loss, 11%↓ in LDL, and ↓ 0.38% A1C
My intent, as you know is not to put you on a diet. My goal is to try vegetarian meals at least twice a week. You will be getting enough protein, I promise!