We answer reader’s burning questions!

I keep hearing the term “flexitarian.” What is the Flexitarian Diet and how does it differ from other diets? Brenda Rodriguez, Pleasanton, CA

A Flexitarian Diet includes mostly plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains) while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation. This makes it more flexible than fully vegetarian or vegan diets. There are no clear-cut rules or recommended numbers of calories and macronutrients which makes it more of a lifestyle than a diet. The diet was created by Dawn Jackson Blatner, a Registered Dietitian, to help clients eat more vegetables and still eat their favorite meats. The diet focuses on consuming natural foods. If incorporating more plant-based foods is your goal, going flexitarian may be for you.

Are extended fasts (48 hours and beyond) healthy when intermittent fasting? Triccia Fulton, Oxnard CA

Intermittent fasting is a recognized form of weight management with plenty of scientific research to support it. Prolonged fasting is another story. First of all, it’s not for everyone and certainly not for first-timers. However, researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University indicate that fasting for more than 50 hours may speed up metabolism, increase antioxidant levels and help reverse some signs of aging. Embracing a lifestyle of alternating between feeding and short fasting periods, for example, on a monthly basis may include one or two periods of extended fasting depending on your health and preference. 

I have a sweet tooth, how can I satisfy it in a healthy way? Pamela Watson, San Francisco, CA

Amen! There are many ways to satisfy that sweet tooth. Here are four healthy ones for your consideration. Have a piece of chocolate, in particular, dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao which can help you address your craving and may also contribute to your heart health. Second, sugar cravings may be a result of dehydration. So drink some water to keep your organs like your liver working appropriately. Third, turn to nature’s candy and eat a piece of fresh fruit. You’ll help satisfy your craving and feel good about the healthy choice. Finally, sometimes it’s important to honor your craving for ice cream rather than to ignore it. Next time you go to the ice cream shop, sample some of your favorites and let it go at that. Sometimes a taste is all it takes to satisfy your sweet tooth! 

If you have any questions for our nutrition expert, to be featured in our upcoming issues, please send them to us via our contact page.

By Marisa Gonzalez