My whole family went to Pescatarian for 3 months. Here is what happened.

From Men’s Health

MOST fathers know it, fathers do unexpected and unknown things for their children.

I am the father of two daughters, aged 9 and 11. I have also eaten meat for a long time. So when my daughters came to me at the end of last year and told my wife and me that they had decided they wanted to stop eating meat, even though they would continue to eat fish , I was initially skeptical.

It’s not that we don’t have already eat fish – we actually ate a fair amount – but when you eat more fish, well, you’ve got to explore uncharted waters.

This would mean that my wife and I would have to change our meal planning, adjust our shopping lists and also familiarize ourselves with cooking fish.

But my children were resolute in their statement, citing their concern for the future of our planet, so we decided to become a pescatarian – as a family.

As a dietitian, I know that there are huge health benefits to eating a diet rich in fish.

Photo credit: Men's health
Photo credit: Men’s Health

There are the heart health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon and mackerel. There is the lean and muscle protein of all fish. And there is the excitement of a diet that is adventurous. (If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so hard to follow a restrictive diet, it’s probably because you’ve lost the precious connection between arousal and food.)

So, over the past three months (and it matters!), Here’s how my meat-eating family adjusted to a pescatarian diet, the benefits we felt, and how you can apply this approach to eating in your life.

What can you eat on a pescatarian diet?

The pescatarian diet is often compared to the Mediterranean diet, which includes seafood, including fish and other aquatic animals (crustaceans, squid, octopus, etc.). “Pesce” means fish in Italian, hence its name.

Beyond fish, a good pescatarian diet is a good global diet. This can include dairy products like eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese (as was the case in our family). But it should include whole grains, legumes, olives, and lots of fruits and vegetables.

While many people on a pescatarian diet eat eggs and dairy products, others do not. Technically, someone who did would then be on a lacto-ovo-pescatarian diet (like our daughters) but let’s not be too serious.

What can’t you eat on a pescatarian diet?

You cannot eat animal protein that is not fish or seafood.

Photo credit: Rimma_Bondarenko
Photo credit: Rimma_Bondarenko

So that would include poultry (chicken and duck, for example), beef, pork, lamb or wild game (roe deer, boar, rabbit – you understand).

Other than that, the world is your oyster (or clam, or mussel, or …).

Is a pescatarian diet a good diet?

It might be.

Photo credit: Natasha Breen
Photo credit: Natasha Breen

As a registered dietitian, I firmly believe (and the research backs me up here) that there is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” diet – it’s really about whether you can make it happen. diet approach works for you in the long run.

Just like a burger isn’t per se “bad” – it’s more about what’s else on your plate. It’s the same idea with any diet. A pescatarian diet can be extremely healthy, but if that means living on fish sticks, fries, pastries, and soft drinks (all, technically pescatarian), well, not so much.

On the flip side, any diet that makes foods high in fiber and nutrients the cornerstone of your plate is a good choice.

“I always advocate including more whole plant foods in anyone’s eating habits,” says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD “While I wholeheartedly support those who choose an all-vegan diet for ethical reasons , those looking to change their diet for health reasons can really benefit from continuing to include seafood, especially oily fish and shellfish.

And that’s one of the most powerful benefits of a pescatarian diet – and why I’m glad our daughters wanted to include seafood (otherwise my wife and I might have backed down slightly).

Oily and cold water fish, like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, can certainly be part of a well-balanced diet, especially because one of the key nutrients in these fish – acids Omega-3 Fat – Is Hard To Get From Other Meals.

What types of meals do you eat on a pescatarian diet?

If you don’t eat a lot of fish, you will need to get creative.

Photo credit: GMVozd
Photo credit: GMVozd

My family love cooking and love spending time in the kitchen, but we had to pull out cookbooks, browse the internet and try a few dishes that we wouldn’t normally have without this experience.

But it is a good thing.

We looked for alternatives to meatballs and made them into lentils (great option), tofu (few fans in this house), experimented with different bean and grain salads and all commented that we feel really good in our new approach, especially as we all put our heads together to find great options that we all enjoy.

Having said that, my wife and I don’t completely avoid meat and (maybe) our daughters either for the rest of their lives. We have been around 3 months however and they remain strong and we will continue to support them and all of them learning and exploring new foods together.

And science confirms it. More and more data is emerging showing how beans reign supreme in what are called blue zones (regions of the world where there is an abundance of centenarians). Combine that with more omega-3 fatty acids (and selenium, zinc, and many other nutrients) than before, and we all feel better.

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