Every New Year brings a myriad of new health fads, fitness goals and diet trends. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way we shop, eat and think about food. Families are eating at home more, paying attention to what they put in their body and even analyzing the environmental sustainability of food purchases. As we enter 2021 with New Year’s resolutions related to health and wellness, it’s important to know what is actually beneficial and what is a passing fad.
Below are food trends to expect this New Year:
- Increased demand for organic, responsibly grown meat and produce.
- Whether it’s the pandemic, the effects of pesticides or conditions at dairy and meat farms, we’re seeing a heightened desire for organic, responsibly grown meat and produce. Switching to organic produce can drastically reduce exposure to harmful pesticides that are often linked to cancer. However, consumers still need to do their research to make sure what they’re buying is responsibly grown. Grocery store labels are often uninformative or downright misleading. For example, if something was grass-fed it means that the animal was fed grass instead of grain, which is better for its digestive system, but it doesn’t mean the animals were treated more humanely. When looking at meat labels, look for “pasture-raised” as opposed to “humanely,” “naturally” or “locally-raised.”
- Intensified search for immunity-strengthening food and supplements.
- COVID-19 has made many people hyper-focused on strengthening their immune system and preparing their bodies for any potential interaction with the virus. While there’s no magic pill, eating well, exercising regularly and cutting out unhealthy habits like drinking or smoking are great methods to improve immune health and functioning. To strengthen your immune system it’s recommended to cut out processed food, dramatically reduce sugar intake, eat plenty of veggies and plant-based food and get enough protein. When it comes to supplements, grocery stores are seeing Vitamin C, D and elderberry flying off the shelves. These supplements are a great way to boost immunity as long as they are taken in moderation and in consultation with your doctor first.
- A shift to more plant-based and plant-forward food.
- We’re seeing a massive shift to plant-based diets that we expect will continue far into the future. The rise of plant-based foods is another trend that exploded with the onset of COVID-19 and was praised further for its positive impacts on the environment when compared to raising livestock. Research over many years has linked plant-based diets to lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers, however, anyone looking to become more plant-based needs to be diligent to ensure adequate protein, vitamin, and mineral intake.
- Be aware of unhealthy diets promising quick, effortless results.
- While most food trends we anticipate for 2021 are shifting toward a healthier lifestyle, there are certainly passing fads to look out for. The weight loss industry has been touting the miracle work of supplements and meal replacements as quick methods to shed pounds. We expect this trend to continue in 2021 but be aware, while a shake may fill you up for a while, it often lacks the nutrients your body needs and can cause you to gain weight as soon as you stop using it. Diet fads or anything that promises effortless, dramatic weight loss are often signs of an unhealthy, unsustainable lifestyle. When looking at potential diets keep in mind that generally, losing 1-2 pounds per week is considered healthy weight loss, any more could be dangerous.
If you aren’t sure if a diet plan, fitness regimen or supplement is considered healthy, it’s always best to consult a doctor. A licensed physician or nutritionist will be able to work with you to determine what diet and exercise best fits your body, lifestyle and health and wellness needs.
Written by: Dr. George Kasey Nichols, Arizona Naturopathic Medical Assoc.
Dr. George Kasey Nichols is a licensed physician and member of the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association (AzNMA), a professional organization of Naturopathic Doctors in the state of Arizona. The vision of AzNMA is to ensure the growth of naturopathic medicine through recognition and education. For more information about AzNMA, visit AZNMA.org.