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Loose Flexie

I find dietary preferences fascinating, especially those that differ from my own.

I received an email this week from a reader, who will remain anonymous. The reader wanted me to analyze her intake. I did. I made a lot of recommendations, including eating more calories, healthy fats, and fiber, as well as getting 2+ servings of calcium-rich foods each day.

The reader responded saying she borders on veganism and would prefer to get her dairy from animal-free sources. I recommended calcium citrate supplements.

I get why people shy away from meat and dairy. I do, I really, really do. So much involving meat and dairy is unclean, unethical, costly, and not always so healthy. Yet, as we cut out major food groups, we run into nutritional deficiencies. If our body requires these nutrients, why do we cut out the most concentrated sources in which they’re found? Seems…odd, no?

I try and support all lifestyles, especially those surrounding food, but I do find this curious and somewhat ironic. As a blanket statement, many vegetarians and vegans eat the way they do for health reasons…many of which I agree with (strongly plant-based diets rock!). And yet these restrictions result in laborious micromanagement of the diet to ensure nutritional needs are being met…and more times than not, supplementation (talk about unethical, costly, and often unsafe). Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and the 3rd party tested supplements cost a small fortune — certainly more than the difference between feed lot and ethical, organic meat and dairy, anyways.

Funny story.

Last week during my employee taste test at work, I served the Pork Carnitas recipe I raved about recently (employees loved it, too!). One of our doctors who usually participates in the taste tests opted out of this taste test because she abstains from eating pork. One of our nurses asked, “Doc, can I ask why you don’t eat pork?” The doctor recited some facts about the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of pigs and how they were inferior sanitary-wise to other animals. The nurse politely thanked the doctor for explaining and after a few moments, the doctor had left the break room. The nurse wasted no time in turning to me to say, “Apparently she’s never seen a chicken.” 😉 True or not, I found it amusing. And valid.

I think my “take” on food lifestyles is scientifically biased because I see the health benefits in all food groups and they way they impact everything from weight loss to chronic disease management. And this is why I am an Flexitarian-Everythingatarian (a “Loose Flexie” as I lovingly refer to my eating preferences).

Question: Are you an Everythingatarian? Vegetarian? Vegan? Raw vegan? Pescatarian? Flexitarian? Loose Flexie? Any why?

…And how about those DO what you DON’T challenge goals? Still holding strong? Nearly one week in!

Happy Hump Day!

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  1. conradvisionquest
    April 7, 2010 / 6:13 am

    i am a vegan and find that as long as i eat a well balanced and colorful diet (whole grains, veg, fruit, legumes) i get everything i need. there are lots of plant-based sources of calcium (ie spinach, collard greens, tofu). i do take a multivitamin and b12 supplement for added insurance.
    interesting post!

  2. April 7, 2010 / 6:21 am

    I’ll normally eat anything however I find myself this year having only one serving of beef so far and a lot less than normal of the other meats. I wonder if the habits of the bloggers I’m following are subconciously rubbing off on me ?

  3. lessonstolearn
    April 7, 2010 / 6:47 am

    I don’t eat meat very often (I think Thanksgiving may have been the last time!). But I do eat fish (which I could never give up), as well as dairy. I’d miss my yogurt too much!

  4. April 7, 2010 / 8:03 am

    Gotta eat everything! My exclusions are based on taste, well and a little bit on consistency. Mushy stuff generally doesn’t go over well with my palate. I was craving a nice grilled steak tonight :).

  5. April 7, 2010 / 8:18 am

    I also am a everythingatarian!!! I have noticed that I eat more eat now that I live with my fiance.

  6. April 7, 2010 / 8:53 am

    What the nurse said to you made me LOL!
    I am a vegeterian. The reason is over time I have just not been able to stomach meat. I will put it in my mouth and something about it just makes me gag. I have been like this on and off for many years. I would go through phases and be able to eat meat and then not be able to stomach it for a few weeks but it seems for about the last year I can not even think about eating it with out gagging. It is kind of funny but my daughter seems to be a self appointed vegeterian. I offer her meat and will put it on her plate, she will take a bite and spit it out telling me she does not like it. Everyone else around us eats meat and fish but she just won’t do it. I give her credit that she at least tries the food I give her.

    The challenge has been just that, a “challenge”. Last night was my first night binge free and I was proud of myself. I have done 2 days of strength training so far so, that is good. I tried the Jackie Warner total body training on Exercise TV and she kicked my butt. I was sore for 3 days, as in, I was wincing when I was walking. At least I know it is working!!!

    • April 7, 2010 / 10:32 am

      I’m a everythingatarian. I really believe in everything in moderation. I truly do enjoy meat and dairy and would not be able to cut them out of my diet.

  7. April 7, 2010 / 11:24 am

    I am a semi-vegetarian! I have never been able to cook meat properly and therefore rarely ate it when in college and grad school. Since reading the book Skinny Bitch, I have steered away from it, but still love fish and seafood…I need my scallops and crab cakes haha!

  8. April 7, 2010 / 11:30 am

    I love everything in moderation! That being said I usually am vegetarian before dinner and eat little red meat. I love dairy and seafood though, could never give those up!

  9. April 7, 2010 / 11:31 am

    I would like to consider myself a Flexitarian…I don’t want to eat meat but I refuse to say that I will never eat it again….I don’t want to be a all or nothing type of person =)

  10. rachael
    April 7, 2010 / 11:33 am

    I don’t really classify myself but I am essentially a vegan. It definitely takes planning to have a nutritionally complete vegan diet but it totally can be done. Just wondering why you think supplements are always necessary on a vegan diet? Greens and seeds contain calcium. Most non-dairy milks are fortified to have approximately the same calcium content as the cow version. I have had a day of eating evaluated a couple times, and calcium has never been an issue. Vitamin B12 and D are the things I am lacking in. Not trying to pick a fight at all, just curious.

    • April 7, 2010 / 11:49 am

      I don’t believe supplementation is always necessary, but often it is. If more vegetarians and vegans micromanaged their vitamins and minerals and took the time to alter the diet accordingly it wouldn’t be as big of an issue. That said, few vegetarians and vegans “in the real world” (i.e. those in my office and not the savvy Bloggers we read about) seek out or address their deficiencies and I think that’s scary, especially for women in regards to osteoporosis/osteopenia and anemia.

    • Vicki
      April 7, 2010 / 6:23 pm

      I completely agree.

  11. April 7, 2010 / 11:35 am

    I eat everything! I do eat meat only 1-2 times a week, just because I don’t love the taste and texture. I’d love to eat filet everynight, but I’m not a millionaire. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. April 7, 2010 / 11:36 am

    I think I fall under the “flexitarian” category. That just kind of happened naturally, not because of one reason or another… I just don’t eat as much meat as I used to and often go without!

  13. April 7, 2010 / 11:36 am

    This is why I love your blog. You’re so rational. I too am a loose flexie. I generally don’t eat too much meat because it costs a lot. Most of my meals are vegetarian. That said, I’m trying to incorporate more animal protein into my diet because as I’m recovering from an injury my doctor told me to keep eating it. She said her patients who are vegetarians don’t recover as well. Go figure. I also know that when I have a major beef craving it probably means I’m getting low on iron. I never deny that.

  14. April 7, 2010 / 11:56 am

    I’d call myself a Loose Flexi too. I’ve toyed with the idea of a vegetarian diet, but I just can’t get the nutrients I need that way, as you mentioned.

  15. April 7, 2010 / 12:12 pm

    Definitely an Everythingatarian! Although, I probably only eat meat a few times a week? Sometimes not even that much….just varies. I feel selfish for saying so, but I could never give up meat/dairy completely because I LOVE it so much. I think part of that guilt comes from the blogging world. I see so many vegans and vegetarians and feel guilty, and hope they don’t look down on me (I know, rationally, that they don’t). Anyway, /rant!

  16. April 7, 2010 / 12:20 pm

    I am everythingatarian too I guess. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I do eat it. I rely on dairy for a lot of my meals, too. I think the blogging world has gotten to me too in that I see so many vegetarians/vegans and think I should re-evaluate. That being said – seeing so many yummy ways to be veg. and vegan helps me increase my fruit and veggie intake! I think part of the reason I would have a hard time giving up meat and/or dairy is my love of protein. I know there are lots of ways to get protein without animal products, but for now I prefer to include them as well as tofu, beans, and tempeh for a varied diet. Great post!

  17. April 7, 2010 / 12:22 pm

    I really try not to put labels on what I do because labels feel triggering for my history with disordered eating. But, I do eat gluten free, very low sugar (even natural sugar), yeast free and pretty close to vegan. I am not vegan because of eggs and salmon. I don’t eat other meats because my body does not digest them and I don’t eat dairy because it is very mucous forming and really aggravates my already terrible sinus’. I do not worry about calcium as I eat a diet very rich in dark leafy greens, seeds and fortified rice milk.

    So if you wanted to put a label on how I eat, it would be a really long label ๐Ÿ˜€

  18. April 7, 2010 / 12:28 pm

    I’m a vegetarian and I try to stay away from dairy as much as possible (although it’s hard with cheese!!) and although ethical reasons are a big factor in my decision to follow this diet, a big factor is also simply that I feel amazing when I don’t eat meat. I think that some people can handle meat in a way that others can’t, and I can only say out of personal experience that my body does not feel good when I eat meat.

    Interesting post!

  19. April 7, 2010 / 12:31 pm

    I eat pretty much everything. Im not a big meat eater, but I do eat it. Last night I was talking to my mom about a family member who’s a vegan. I fully understand why she would make that decision, but shes really intense about it. I feel like she judges the rest of us for eating meat. I dont really think thats fair.
    Kind of off topic I know, but its been bothering me.

  20. April 7, 2010 / 12:39 pm

    I’m definitely a flexitarian. I tried going completely vegetarian a little over a year ago and 3 months realized it just wasn’t working for me. I gained weight b/c I wasn’t feeling satisfied and started eating mostly carbs. I know that it’s possible to feel satisfied and not gain weight and not eat only carbs when you’re a vegetarian, but for me, it wasn’t so easy. Plus my husband loves meat and we get along much better when I’m not picky about it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. April 7, 2010 / 1:07 pm

    I’m a pescetarian who tries to avoid dairy…for various ethical and health reasons. It really really does not take that much labor to meet all the dietary requirements if you just have a little education before going into such a lifestyle. There are tons of places to get calcium other than milk. In fact, the protein content in milk is actually supposed to hinder absorption of calcium. There are tons of plant-based ways to get calcium, such as leafy greens and broccoli…this will have to be one of my future posts.

  22. April 7, 2010 / 1:30 pm

    I eat everything except fish, but that’s because I despise its taste. I love seafood but fish makes me want to cry, and I do try it periodically to make sure I still don’t like it. I can tolerate about 2 oz of a white fish then I’ve had enough and salmon not ever. (hence why I am vitamin D deficient). We eat vegetarian at least twice a week but meat or seafood at most other dinners.

    I’m going strong on my do what you don’t challenge I have flossed every day and I’m also running at least a mile every day.

  23. April 7, 2010 / 1:40 pm

    I think maybe i’m a flexitarian????

    Probably 80% of my meals are vegetarian… naturally. Its just what my body wants. The other 20% I eat some meat.

  24. April 7, 2010 / 1:56 pm

    THANK YOU!!! I loved this post. I definitely eat all food groups. I eat meat, dairy, fruits, veggies, sugar, fats, and everything in between. I think that is the way most of our bodies are intended to eat. I honor people who eat vegan/vegetarian/etc but, for me, I think eating a balance of all of the above is perfectly healthy. And I hate feeling like it is frowned upon by some.

  25. April 7, 2010 / 3:39 pm

    I eat everything but I do find that eating less meat proteins and more of non-meat proteins (ie more beans, nuts) generally make me feel better and more energetic (although I’ nowhere near ready to give up meat!).

  26. April 7, 2010 / 3:39 pm

    I don’t eat bread slices – like the Wonder Bread kind out of a package. I’ll take a crusty french bread loaf from the bakery just fine, but it’s something about that dang bread out the package that bloats me to no end. I think a main factor in my dropping a size was cutting out the bread slices.

  27. April 7, 2010 / 5:15 pm

    Funny little story. I try to eat a variety from every food group except not too much dairy because it upsets my tum. Other peoples take on food is totally interesting. How boring would it be if everyone only ate the same thing? Variety is wonderful!

    • April 7, 2010 / 5:48 pm

      I always wonder that about cats & dogs. Do they get bored eating the same food for every meal?? I’m sure glad I get variety!

  28. April 7, 2010 / 5:31 pm

    I love the term “loose flexie” :).

    I don’t have a label for the type of diet I follow, but my daily consumption generally consists of items from all the food groups. I tend to go heavy on the fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy, and whole grains and light on the meat. I eat red meat only very rarely, but chicken, pork and fish are all staples in our fridge. I like to think I eat a pretty balanced diet, but I could probably cut down on the sweets!

  29. April 7, 2010 / 5:46 pm

    I’m a Flexitarian-Everythingatarian too! I tend to be picky about the meats I put in my body, which means it cost much more to eat them, which means I end up eating a lot more tofu and beans. When I have the control, I like for my meats to be free-ranged and antibiotic free. I also think organic milk and cheese taste better than non-organic. In my head? Maybe, but I’m okay with paying more for food if I know it’s better for my body.

  30. Vicki
    April 7, 2010 / 6:26 pm

    I just have to say that I love this blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

    As far as my diet goes, I am trying my best to avoid labels but I eat an almost exclusively plant based diet. People tend to overestimate the work involved with being a healthy vegan…it’s really not that hard!

  31. April 7, 2010 / 6:36 pm

    i eat what i want! i usually want veggies and carbs but sometimes i want fish and cheese….and very occassionaly i want meat…i think your body tells you what you need!
    great post!

  32. April 7, 2010 / 8:25 pm

    I’m a vegetarian right now but I’m not sure how long I will be. My reasons for being a vegetarian are mostly environmental/development/humanitarian reasons. I would be willing to support/consume sustainably raised beef, pork or poultry but I’ve yet to come across that. In the meantime, I’m avoiding meat.

  33. April 7, 2010 / 9:14 pm

    As you probably know from my blog I am a “Everythingatarian” I love most foods….though I don’t do heavily processed goods. I love fresh, natural, whole foods spiced and seasoned in so many ways. xo

  34. April 7, 2010 / 9:39 pm

    I for one hate labels…I don’t see the point in completely rejecting all meat products…esp because it’s clear that our body needs a bit of it. Why else do we need to be so careful about our diet, and take vitamin B12 pills? That’s my honest opinion about these kind of restrictive diets…I just find this self-imposed restrictions rather unnecessary.
    I don’t agree that we should have meat in every dish. I think America eats WAY too much meat and protein. I believe a healthiest diet is one mostly based on plants, but with a few meat sources, just because our body NEEDS it.

    Oh, and I’m an Everythingtarian. hee, but you already know! ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. April 7, 2010 / 9:54 pm

    I hate “classifying” myself – it can be restrictive and I don’t want to be restrictive in my eating.

    That being said – I gave up meat for Lent.

    I would say I have in the last year or so I have dramatically cut meat out of my life – both for animal treamtment and environmental reasons. HOWEVER, I would also say in that time that I have found other things (like beans, veggie burgers, quinoa, etc) that I love to eat – more than meat. I will continue to eat what I like – and sometimes that may include meat or fish! But I also want to make sure that I am getting the nutrients I need to be healthy!

  36. April 7, 2010 / 9:54 pm

    I was actually a pescatarian for like 5 years when I realized that there is no real reason that I don’t eat poultry, so I started eating it again. I don’t eat beef or pork because I don’t like it.

  37. April 8, 2010 / 12:47 am

    i do eat chicken and seafood…and love having it…and that was really funny story…had a nice time reading it…

  38. April 8, 2010 / 5:00 pm

    I eat pretty much everything (except pork, incidentially ๐Ÿ™‚ ), but I try not to eat too much of any one thing…variety is the spice of life! ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. April 8, 2010 / 9:26 pm

    I am definitely flexible and partake in (almost) everything in moderation. I don’t cut anything out completely – I figure, it’s worked so far, I am in good health, as is everyone in my family (I suppose I’m bragging about my good genese!) why start getting all restrictive now?

  40. April 9, 2010 / 10:22 pm

    I eat everything! Love it all. This is the first time I’ve been to this blog and I was really able to identify with this post–I’ll def. be visiting your blog more regularly. The beauty of America is that we have an abundance of fresh, nutritious food and fortunatley, are lucky enough to be able to make the diet choices that best fit us–even though sometimes those choices may not always be rational!

    • Nicole
      April 9, 2010 / 10:26 pm

      Amanda, thanks for visiting and for your awesome comment! I couldn’t agree more!

  41. April 10, 2010 / 9:10 am

    I guess I’m a flexitarian. 1)I don’t really like the taste of meat very much. 2) I don’t think meat contains any essential nutrients that I cannot get elsewhere in my diet. 3) I cannot afford organic meat, and I really don’t like the idea of eating hormones and antibiotics.

  42. April 11, 2010 / 10:27 am

    I tend to eat mostly vegetarian, but for some reason (too much gym?) I really crave meat from time to time. Possibly hormonal. I eat small amounts of high quality, humanely raised meat, but from occasionally, I eat a burger. I love fish, but recognize the unsustainability there. I really don’t cut anything out, I mostly emphasize the good stuff, minimize the less good stuff.

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