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It’s almost been a whole year since I’ve posted in this blog. To be honest, I was burned out and just didn’t feel I had any more to say about anything. On top of all this, enter the COVID 19 Pandemic and all that comes with it along with the current volatile political climate. What could I possibly write that would bring value to someone?
After pondering about my recent diet choices, I decided to write about my ongoing quest for the holy grail of weight loss. If you read throughout this blog, you will see that I championed Intermittent Fasting and the Keto Diet. While I did lose weight with Keto+Intermittent Fasting, my weight-loss soon petered out and came to a halt.
This is when I decided to look for another way of eating that will ensure that my weight loss is slow yet steady. I wanted to see results according to what I’ve been told is the healthy way to lose weight, i.e. no more than 1-2 pounds each week. Enter the Flexitarian Diet.
My Experience With IF+Keto
Before I dive into my version of The Flexitarian Diet, I feel like I should give a bit more explanation as to why I discontinued using Keto and Intermittent Fasting. To be sure these two ways of eating work well to help you lose weight, but even though my taste buds loved many of the allowed foods, my body did not.
Like any red-blooded person, I enjoy dairy foods, and I had ample cheese and butter as part of my keto diet. Unfortunately, I am lactose intolerant and suffered greatly just for trying to lose weight! There were times that I was in the fetal position because the gas pains were so bad!
Dairy intolerance notwithstanding, I also didn’t like eating all of those eggs, and meats while not being able to have other healthy foods like lentils, legumes, or beans. I didn’t feel a sense of balance following keto and my weight-loss petered out after a few months.
I then started looking for a simple weight-loss app and stumbled across one that asked me a few questions and generated a flexitarian diet plus a daily exercise plan for me.
So What Is A Flexitarian Diet?
Confession time, the diet plan the app suggested wasn’t officially called a flexitarian diet. I decided to call it a flexitarian diet because it closely follows the tenets of the flexitarian diet which are namely to:
- Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes
- Get the majority of your protein from plant sources such as beans, peas, and lentils instead of animal sources
- Be flexible and incorporate meat, fish, and other animal products from time to time
- Eat food in its most natural form, limit processed foods, limit added sugars and sweets
Because this diet is so flexible, I am able to enjoy some animal-based foods while avoiding the ones that cause adverse side effects. I also expanded my views of what ingredients constituted the main meals of the day. For example, I make a great quinoa dish with roasted peanuts, olive oil and soy sauce for breakfast!
Most of my meals these days are primarily composed of whole grains like steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, peas, beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables with occasional animal-based foods like eggs, chicken, fish, and grass-fed meats. A lot right!? Certainly a lot more than I was allowed on the Keto diet.
Examples of Flexitarian Meals
One of the must-haves of my new diet was that it contains meals that were quick and easy. This will always be my focus when it comes to meal planning. Not only must the meal be nutritious, but I should be able to prepare it in less than 30 minutes. Luckily since I started my flexitarian diet, I spend from as little as 5 minutes to no more than 25 minutes per meal. I would save even more time if I batch cooked!
Let me give a few quick examples of the types of meals I would have every day, including breakfast, two snacks, lunch, and dinner. First up a typical flexitarian breakfast.
Breakfast – Oatmeal with Wild Berries & Honey (or Agave)
- Oatmeal (or any favorite cereal like quinoa, rice, corn)
- Fresh berries
- Agave syrup or honey
- Coconut flakes
- Cardamom and Cinnamon Powder (optional)
- Cook oatmeal (or other grain) according to directions
- When ready, add oatmeal to a bowl and top with a pinch of spices if using, coconut flakes, berries, and honey or agave syrup.
This tasty breakfast is ready in less than five minutes. See? quick and easy! Let’s move on to our first snack.
First Snack – Muesli Bar
Lunch – Boneless Jerk Chicken Thighs w/ Thai Noodles
This is one of my favorite lunches on this diet because it hits all my hot spots: it’s delicious and it’s quick and easy. I use ramen rice noodles and my favorite jerk chicken marinade to make this quick lunch.
- Boneless chicken thigh cut up in cubes
- Jerk chicken marinade
- Cooking oil (I use avocado oil)
- Ramen noodles (I use whole grain ramen noodles)
- Olive oil or butter (I use oil because I’m lactose intolerant)
- Soy sauce
- Sesame seeds
- Season chicken with marinade (you can preseason or season just before cooking)
- Heat oil over medium-low heat in a saucepan
- Add chicken to the pan and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
- While chicken is cooking, cook ramen noodles according to package directions.
Once noodles are cooked and drained, add a bit of butter or olive oil and mix well. Add soy sauce and sesame seeds to taste. Stir to mix well. After the chicken is done, you can put it over your noodles. Pretty tasty, satisfying, and quick!
Ingredients & Method: Ready to eat, just open, weigh your allotted portion of dark chocolate and enjoy. No time.
Dinner – Chickpeas Curry with Peas & Tomato Salad
This is one of my favorite dinners because it’s as healthy as it is quick to make.
Ingredients for curry:
- Chickpeas (drained from canned)
- Curry sauce (there are great organic ready-made Indian curry sauces available in your local supermarket)
Heat through chickpeas and sauce together in a pan over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes.
Ingredients for salad:
- Peas (could use drained canned pigeon peas or green peas)
- Grape tomatoes
- Pepitas or Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Soy Sauce
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss well
- Enjoy with plated chickpeas curry.
This meal can be prepared in about 15 minutes and is chock-full of flavorful plant protein and good fats from the chickpeas, pepitas, and sesame seeds.
Of course, the app tells me how much of each ingredient to put in each meal to ensure that I maintain a calorie deficit. To be honest, I’m enjoying my food so much, that I don’t feel at all deprived and I’m much less bloated!
Another great thing about the flexitarian diet is that it can be very affordable, especially if you buy dry or canned beans, peas, legumes, and lentils. The more plant-based your protein sources, the more money you save!
No diet will be successful without exercise, and I for one find it to be a necessary chore. The great thing about this app is that it has built-in daily workouts that are 30 minutes or less, with some as short as 8 minutes and the average is about 20 minutes. I really break a sweat doing the reps and I feel accomplished after doing them.
The daily exercise coupled with me following this flexitarian diet has really given me real and sustained results. I have lost a total of 18 pounds in 2 months – averaging a loss of about 2 pounds per month.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected us all in different ways. Some of us have entered a depressive mode where we can’t seem to get anything done and others of us seem to thrive in the enforced shutdown. No matter where you are in the spectrum, I know that weight loss may be the last thing on your mind. I get it I really do.
I have fluctuated between not giving a f*&k to being concerned about my health. After a bit too much day drinking, I decided I wanted to choose health. Since that decision and by following the flexitarian way of eating and exercising every day, I have found that my attitude is much better. I feel better and I have a bit more hope.
Take this time to do what makes you happy. If that’s doing nothing or if it’s doing all the things, the main goal is to maintain your peace. Stay well my friends and as always, happy eating! 🙂