Are You A Trendy Eater?by Elise Museles
A few weeks ago, I was asked to contribute my two cents to an article for The Washingtonian’s Well + Being Blog. The topic? Food, health, and fitness trends for 2013. The post turned out great, but as I was pulling my ideas together for it, I realized something:
While I love keeping up with certain trends from clothes to new travel destinations to the latest must-read, I don’t like to think of wellness as “trendy”. Ever. I try not to dabble in fad diets or cleanses, and dodge “miracle” juices and exercise routines that come and go with the seasons.
Why? Because when it comes to your health, you need to make choices you know will really serve you long term. Tried and true strategies, proven tools, and nourishment advice are always a better idea than flash-in-the-pan concepts that are momentarily all the rage.
That said, there are amazing advances being made every day in the world of health and nutrition. So how do you separate the trendy ideas that fizzle out in a few months from real shifts that will genuinely help you and have staying power?
If you discover a new trend that entices you, give it a chance, take note of what the experts say and make sure it works for you. Just keep in mind, this should be a long distance run and not a sprint!
I’ve come up with two guiding lists for you: the newer food fads that could potentially turn into full-blown nutritional staples and the trends that have totally transformed the world of health.
Food trends with serious staying power:
In 2012, this spice started showing up all over the place from produce aisles to restaurant dishes. It has been touted as a fantastic anti-inflammatory herbal remedy, and is also available in pill form as a supplement. While turmeric offers a host of health benefits, the fresh root (closely related to ginger) is absolutely delicious and gives food a beautiful golden hue. (You know how I favor colorful food.) I’ve jumped aboard the bandwagon myself and have been adding it to soups, stews, quinoa and chicken dishes.
Dark, leafy, yummy greens
With vegetables taking center stage and kale becoming a common household staple (okay, wishful thinking), new dark & leafy greens have been on the rise. A garden of fresh options are finding their way into grocery stores, farmer’s markets and restaurants. Daring people are eating veggies like beet greens, chard, mustard greens and collards as alternatives to kale. No matter which foodie philosophy you subscribe to, be it vegan, high protein, or mostly plant-based, all of these nutritional theories include greens.
Teff, the new quinoa
While I’ll always have a place in my heart for quinoa, teff, the latest high-protein, gluten free grain hitting supermarkets, is taking the health world by storm. It has a lot of benefits similar to quinoa, and the Ethiopian grain has appeared in the diets of numerous notable runners. Teff also works as a gluten free substitute for white flour in baking. If you are looking for a new energy source, try teff. (It tastes better than it sounds. Promise!)
Superfoods & Superfood Smoothies
Superfoods have gained plenty of notice in the past couple of years, and now they’re popping up everywhere! Getting creative in the kitchen has never been more tempting. From cacao to goji berries to all the seeds (flax, hemp, or chia), there is a plethora of inspiring options for mixing and matching. Blenders aren’t reserved just for health nuts anymore!
Gluten free (the good & the bad)
While cutting out gluten is a must for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, many other people have also hopped on the “I’m gluten free” train. With more and more supermarkets and restaurants offering gluten free options, this awareness is here to stay and will continue well beyond 2013.
Let me get on my soapbox for a second about this: exploring alternatives to wheat & gluten-containing grains is an excellent way to add variety to your diet. You can definitely eat healthy while “going gluten free”, but there are a lot of gluten free products out there that aren’t necessarily nutritious, just because of a label that says “gluten free”. If you are exchanging a gluten containing processed food for a gluten free processed food, you are still eating a processed food.
Some health trends that have turned into total transformations:
Health as a way of life, not a temporary fix
The realization that our nutritional and lifestyle choices directly impact our health and wellbeing is spreading fast. As a result, people are looking to nourish their bodies with nutritious food and create habits that become a lifestyle – instead of quick-fix diets or yoyo weight loss. It is a much more sustainable approach and a long term solution to achieving greater health. This is a “trend” that I personally would like to see impact as many people as possible.
More Conscious Consumers
Not only have we started to really examine the impact our food choices have on our health, but there is also a growing interest around how our choices affect the environment. Green eating no longer just applies to consuming our leafies! Restaurants are trying to source locally, people are generally more concerned about where their food comes from, and more information is being shared with consumers. My go-to resource: Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Apps for Everything
The trend of using apps to track health and fitness goals is stronger than ever and will continue that way for a good, long time. There’s something rewarding about being able to see your progress in real time, and it seems like there’s an app for anything health-related nowadays. Apps can also amp up the fun factor in your favorite activities. Who says quantifying results has to be a snooze-fest? Apps also have become so personalized that they really “get to know you”…your tastes, your habits and your schedule. Knowledge is power!
Question of the day: Do you have any new nutritional staples you have added into your routine? Do you see a shift in the way we approach food & eating? Share your stories & insights in the comments below!