Whether you’re chasing a weight loss goal or just looking to have better health, chances are good you’ve heard of more than a few diet trends. Plans like paleo, keto, low-carb, Atkins, South Beach, Whole 30, and more have devout followers who share success stories. But how do you decide which is right for you?
It’s not so much about following a specific, strict program. Instead, experts recommend that you focus on incorporating foods that give your body the nutrition it needs to be healthy.
Several trends have already emerged in 2018. And we’ve narrowed down the list to the eight best options that are actually worth trying. Here’s the rundown of what you need to know about each of the trends that we believe will stick around for the long-term.
Eating a Plant-Based Diet
Following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is nothing new. But plant-centric eating habits are gaining ground even among carnivores. The widely-watched 2017 documentary What the Health was a turning point for many people. It helped to educate them on many of the health benefits associated with a plant-based approach to eating.
Among the potentially positive side effects are lower cholesterol, better digestion, an easier time managing weight, and a smaller impact on the environment.
To try out this trend, try incorporating one meal daily into your routine that doesn’t include meat. Make sure you get enough protein from other sources like legumes, nuts, or seeds to keep your diet balanced.
Like most everything, our nutrition isn’t one size fits all. If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, a diet that works for someone else may not be sufficient for you for several reasons. Whether you’re chasing weight loss or just general health, personalized nutrition plans are gaining ground in 2018.
This type of diet is effective because professionals look at your genetics and conduct testing to see how your body responds to different kinds of foods. This helps to narrow down what are the best foods to eat based on your biology, your specific needs, and your goals.
To pursue it, reach out to a registered dietician and ask about their individualized programs. Be prepared that you may need to follow an elimination diet, do allergy testing, or start with a particular protocol before your doctor recommends a plan for you. This isn’t necessarily a simple process. But the health boost and results make it impactful and worthwhile.
This approach may also pave the way for more targeted inventions to make achieving optimum nutrition and health more easily available someday soon.
Intuitive eating is a concept that’s been around for awhile. However, it’s moving to the forefront of conversations between dietitians and nutritionists and their clients in 2018. Defined as the practice of making your nutritional decisions without rules and eating when it feels right to you, intuitive eating is thought to help us tune in more closely to our bodies needs and make better choices.
Proponents of the method say it can help combat common bad habits, like stress eating, or snacking when you’re emotional or bored. People who master an intuitive eating approach often find it leads to weight loss and eating more nutritionally dense, high-quality foods.
Eating Local or Sustainable (or Both)
An emphasis on organic foods and purchasing products that have less exposure to harmful chemicals and an impact on the environment has been trending for several years. However recently, consumers are also searching for options that are grown or raised locally and through vendors who use sustainable farming practices.
These choices have a smaller environmental impact. But they could also be healthier. Food from local farms will be inherently fresher. And the sooner you eat a fruit or vegetable after it’s been harvested, the more nutritionally dense it is.
Eating local also allows you to get to know the vendor. People love this aspect because they can learn more about the farming practices. They can also learn what types of chemicals they use, how the animals are cared for and fed, and other things that you couldn’t determine if you shopped at a supermarket.
Boosting Gut Health
Probiotics have been trending for the past few years. But in 2018 there is an even broader increased focus on gut health. Researchers are looking closely at how the microbiome balance in our body regulates and boosts other processes like our immune system or mood.
Now you’ll find foods and supplements enriched with probiotics. However, you’ll also see beneficial prebiotics, synbiosis, and dybiosis to help increase healthy digestion.
The turmeric trend started in 2017 and manifested itself in the form of golden milk lattes and shots from your local organic juice bar. We see that trend growing beyond just health food nuts in 2018, and for a good reason. Turmeric is a nutritional powerhouse.
The spice has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. And it also can help you grow healthy hair and glowing skin. The best part? It’s tasty! You can use it to make anything from a delicious latte to season vegetables, soups, or other savory dishes.
You can also purchase a supplement that includes the active compound in turmeric called curcumin.
Sprouted Grains and Seeds
A new trend that is expected to explode in 2018 are sprouted products. Made from nuts, beans, seeds, and grains, these foods all use ingredients that have sprouted before you eat them. Harvard researchers found that the nutritional content of sprouted foods is significantly higher than non-sprouted options. Also, sprouted grains are an excellent alternative for people who are sensitive to grain. This is because they are easier to digest.
Researchers are expecting that sales of products with sprouted grains in them will be eight times higher in 2018. This could result in even more delicious options to choose from on store shelves.
Ezekiel bread is a common place to find sprouted grains, but sprouted flour is also widely available. Keep an eye out for items like sprouted rice. And read the labels on products to see if they use sprouted ingredients.
Swapping Veggies for Grains
We all make an effort to get more nutrition into our diets. Society has already started making some strides towards using vegetables in lieu of grains over the past couple of years. Making zoodles from zucchini to use in place of noodles in pasta, using riced cauliflower, or making avocado toast with sweet potato slices rather than bread where significant trends last year.
We expect that there will be even more creative swaps made in the future. Swapping grains for veggies to move toward a more plant-based lifestyle is another top trend for 2018. But it’s also an excellent way to add nutrients and flavor while at the same time cutting calories from your meals.
You may be looking to shed some pounds or just want to get more antioxidants and fiber in your diet. Either way, a vegetable swap is a smart way to do it.
Alternative Milk Options
First, there was soy milk, but now there are even more milk alternatives on the market. Consumers are looking for dairy alternatives, and nut-based milk made from things like almonds or coconuts are going to become increasingly popular this year.
You may be lactose intolerant or don’t want to drink cow’s milk for other reasons. But there are flavorful alternatives that can give you some of the same protein and calcium you want. Experts expect there will be new varieties and flavors available. This will give your taste buds even more options than what you have with dairy milk.
That said, not every milk substitute is created equal. Some dairy-free products are full of unhealthy ingredients, fillers, and sugar. You’ll want to talk with your dietician about which option is best for you. You should also get comfortable with reading and understanding the label before you buy.
We all know that nuts, beans, and seeds are a healthy and nutritious way to get protein, fat, and many different vitamins and minerals in our diet. Pulses are a cool and trendy way to eat them.
They are the dried-out seeds of plants in the legume family that are not only edible but yummy. Included on the list of pulses are things like chickpeas, lentils, beans, or dry peas. Not only do they deliver a hefty dose of fiber, but they’re also full of protein and iron.
Even more attractive, they are inexpensive, and easy to incorporate into meals or to eat as a snack.
Experts expect restaurants will start using pulses to create vegetarian or plant-based menu items. And thanks to their affordability, home cooks will begin adding them to recipes too.
There are dozens of ways to incorporate them into your dishes. If you want something quick and easy, you can add pulses as a crunchy topping to your salad instead of croutons. They are also a delicious addition to soups and main dishes and are even dessert compatible.