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3 ways to keep red meat in your diet and be healthier

Reviewed by our expert panel
an array of vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, fish and meat

Red meat has been getting a lot of bad press lately, due to concerns about unsustainable farming practices and for health reasons.  But there’s no reason you can’t enjoy red meat as part of a healthy diet.  The trick is to eat it moderately.  Healthy Food Guide shares three tips to help you get the balance right.

If you’ve eaten meat your entire life and are used to consuming a portion of it with most of your meals, then it might be confronting when someone tries to tell you should try to eat less.

Consuming too much red meat relative to other nutrition sources like vegetables and whole grains has been linked to the development of heart disease and other health complications.

On the other hand, red meat is a good source of essential nutrients such as iron, B12 and protein.

So, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys red meat but wants to adopt a healthier balance of it in their diet, then the following advice is for you.

1 Diversify your protein mix

It’s hard to avoid eating red meat if you don’t have an adequate alternative prepared for the protein your body needs to fuel itself. If you stop eating as much red meat but fail to replace the protein it was giving you, then your energy levels are going to suffer dramatically.

Try exploring fresh new recipes that use other protein sources like poultry, fish, and non-meat options like soybeans, eggs and dairy. If you want to be really scientific about it, do the maths about how much protein you were getting from cuts of red meat and try to match that with other sources.

If you really love your steaks and other cuts of red meat, then you don’t need to eliminate them from your diet entirely; simply reduce your reliance on them as your primary source of protein. An easy-to-follow rule is to try and stick to eating red meat with only around a quarter of your meals and using poultry, fish and other proteins the rest of the time.

2 Get a buddy to help you

Luckily for you, overeating red meat is a common problem in Western diets, meaning it shouldn’t be hard to find someone like you to team up with to make things easier. This could be a partner, roommate, family member or even just a co-worker – as long as they are sincere about committing to the goal of eating less red meat with you.

The main utility of having a buddy is that you both keep each other focused and make the goal more tangible, rather than keeping it as a vague promise you’ve made just to yourself. Writing down a clear goal and then agreeing to it with another person as a witness makes it hold far more weight for both of you.

You can learn and eat new recipes together, making it a fun social experience rather than something you have to struggle through yourself. Make it extra fun by sharing a glass of wine together when you learn and cook a new recipe that eschews red meat.

3 Try to eat bigger, more filling dishes

The fuller you feel after a meal, the less likely you are to need to eat again, meaning you’ll be less tempted to consume red meat in-between satiating meals. A large number of fast-food options around you when you leave the house are going to consist of processed red meat, and it’s safe to say that you should be limiting those options if you want to adopt a healthier balance in your diet.

If you have a satisfying meal three times a day, and only one of them includes any form of red meat, you are already adopting a much healthier balance in your diet. As mentioned, make sure you are still getting an adequate amount of dietary protein from other sources.

First published: Dec 2020

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