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"When they have a meal plan to follow and recipes to cook, they do better."
Dawn's favorite meals include:
Lunch: A Southwestern veggie burger with guacamole. It's under 400 calories and very satisfying, she says.
Breakfast: Her patients really her green apple and sun butter toast which is whole grain toast with sunflower seed butter and sliced green apple. It's crunchy and filling.
Her personal favorite is Swiss muesli which is uncooked whole grain oats. You take the old-fashioned rolled oats and soak them in skim milk, soy milk or unsweetened almond milk. You add chopped apple and nuts like almonds. For extra sweetness, drizzle with honey.
Dinner: Cilantro and peanut stir fry. Substitute chicken or beef id you desire.
"I have a very important equation for followers of the Flexitarian Diet: switch out 1/4 cup of beans for every ounce of meat," she notes.
Tips like that allow you to tweak your own food favorites.
Snack: Pizza popcorn. Dawn admits being a big fan of popcorn. It's natural and whole grain. For her recipe, you simply sprinkle the popped corn with oregano and a little bit of Parmesan cheese.
"After reading about the flexitarian diet in 2003 I finally felt like I fit in," she says. "I no longer had to call myself a vegetarian while eating meat in my closet… I am a flexitarian!"
In addition to the health and well-being benefits, you can save money by following this plan.
"Meat is a costly item," Dawn says. "My plan allows you to decrease how much meat you eat. You will definitely save money.
"Also, most ingredients can be found in a traditional grocery store rather than a pricey specialty store."
You'll also be leaving a lighter carbon footprint by choosing more non-meat meals. It's less taxing than meat on the whole ecosystem.
Dawn says Greece, Spain and many Asian cultures follow a flexitarian lifestyle.
A Few Final Words
By being flexibly vegetarian -- adopting more plant foods and new edibles in your diet, while slightly reducing your meat intake and getting to better know your local produce aisle or farmer's market -- you'll be hooked into better health.
Your immune system will get multiple boosts and ward off diseases like cancer and diabetes. You'll stretch out your life expectancy and out-supplement your vitamins.
Then there's the added benefit of weight loss.
Dozens of nutrition studies have scientifically proven that people who eat a vegetarian diet weight on average 15 percent less than non-vegetarians due to a lower intake of fat and calories, and more fiber.
Follow the Flexitarian Diet and you can expect to see a 20-pound average weight loss in six to 12 weeks -- and you'll maintain it for life.
Now that's something we find very easy to swallow!
About the Author: Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN is a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian and a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. She is the nutrition editor for LifeTime TV's website, MyLifetime.com, hosts the "Healthy Eating" segment on Chicago's "Fox News in the Morning" and teaches cooking classes at The Chopping Block Cooking School.
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