Flexitarian Diet

Published 03/07 2012 10:44AM

Updated 03/07 2012 11:55PM

You're trying to get healthier because the doctor says your cholesterol is too high. If you're not ready to go "cold turkey" on steak and become a full-fledged vegetarian, you're not alone.  Experts say many people in this situation become "Flexitarians."

Registered Dietician Judy Caplan says, "You don't need to eat meat at every meal."
Caplan says Flexitarians eat Vegetarian most days, but still eat meat or fish occasionally.

"Today people are broadening their idea of what's healthy and what they can eat, so it's not just the meat and potatoes," Caplan says.

In fact, one study found sales of meatless products like veggie burgers have grown 21 percent over the last 2 years.

Caplan says Americans have a tendency to over consume meat because of long-standing beliefs that it's the best source of protein, and veggies and grains alone won't keep us full.

She says, "You don't need a ton of protein. You just need enough for tissue repair and body function. After that it draws too much calcium from your bones. So we really need to concentrate on the other food groups that build health."

So how much protein should you be getting? It depends on weight, gender and age, but most people need between 40 to 70 grams a day. There's 7 grams of protein in an ounce of chicken, a half a cup of beans and one ounce of dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts.

Caplan says making the change is, "All about mind set. A person who wants to change has to begin to educate themselves and it's never been easier."

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