Can we admit that the last decade of nutrition trends left us confused AF?
From the time when kale was hailed the miracle leaf to when everyone and their mother were doing Atkins. We’ve seen the emergence of lab-grown meat and ‘impossible’ plant-based burgers, the rise of cauliflower pizza crusts and nut milk.
From bone broth to a hundred delicious ways to eat chickpeas to intermittent fasting — we were all really confused about what to eat and when to eat it. But is the next decade of nutrition any better? The experts weigh in.
Plant-based on the rise
2020 Got off to a pretty green start with the Golden Globes serving their first-ever plant-based dinner at this year’s awards — which honestly isn’t much of a surprise. Globally, we’ve seen the phenomenal rise of more plant-based eating amongst the privileged who easily can afford a high consumption of meat.
SA Registered Dietitian and Association for Dietetics in South Africa spokesperson, Kelly Scholtz says: “An affordable diet in the average SA household is already very much plant-based, with small amounts of meat, chicken or fish used when possible, with beans, peas, lentils and foods like milk and eggs providing alternative and good sources of protein. It is already clear that restaurants and retailers in South Africa are stocking more meat alternatives and vegetarian and vegan products in support of this trend, which suggests that there is more demand for plant-based options from consumers.”
Finger on the pulse(s)
It feels like every year there’s a ‘new’ food source that everyone just can’t get enough of, and this year it seems like pulses are where it’s at. ADSA spokesperson, Cath Day, explains that pulses are great from a nutritional and sustainability point of view. “Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. They grow in pods and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours, and include dry beans, dry broad beans, dry peas, chickpeas, cowpeas, pigeon peas and lentils,” she says. Pulse crops help decrease greenhouse gases, increase soil health, and use less water than other crops. Alow-fat source of protein with high levels of protein and fibre, pulses also contain important vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium and folate.
One less glass of bubbly
Everyone loves a glass (or three) of wine but according to studies we slowly saying no to alcohol. Research shows that alcohol consumption is on the decline with any of us opting for alcohol-free options. But given that South Africans are some of the heaviest drinkers in the world, could this be a trend we’ll catch on to? Registered dietitian, Retha Harmse hopes so, “With alcohol being a non-nutrient and high in kilojoules, a whopping 29 kilojoules per gram, it is no secret that alcohol abstinence is a good thing for your health and waistline. With the worldwide focus on moving towards healthier behaviours and habits, I do hope that alcohol consumption in the country will decrease in the new decade.”
READ MORE: What Is Dry January — And What Are The Health Benefits? Experts Weigh In
Giving up the exclusionary diets
The last two-three years saw the rise of the gluten-free and dairy-free lifestyle, it seemed like everyone grew intolerant to some food or the other. But are we actually intolerant or is it a case of jumping onto the bandwagon? Registered dietitian, Retha Harmse says that many people self-diagnose intolerances and implement unnecessarily restrictive diets without professional advice. “Besides being a lot of trouble, dietary exclusions can be very expensive, possibly cause nutrient deficiencies, and might be the origin of an eating disorder or disguise one. Studies have also found that exclusionary diets are socially isolating,” she explains. Rather than going online or starting the latest fad diet, ask your dietitian, you will get a better, sustainable plan that takes your whole person, your medical history and lifestyle into account.
READ MORE: What’s The Point Of An Elimination Diet — And Should I Try It?
Sustainability is a must
Not that sustainability is anything new but this year and the year beyond we’re going to have to do more to help the planet. Extreme weather conditions and species extinction aside, the greatest impact of a disrupted climate will be on human food production and food availability. The world’s agricultural system as it is depends on the stability of the earth’s climate.
“I think that there will be a combination of active and passive consumer behaviour change. Individuals who care about sustainability will make conscious choices, such as more plant-based eating; more careful water use; less plastic packaging and more recycling. These consumer choices prompt businesses to produce foods with sustainability in mind. There is also likely to be a passive or unavoidable change in behaviour in future because many food products will likely become more expensive if they are not sustainably produced, or if extreme drought and other climate change makes production more challenging for farmers,” explains Kelly.
Body positivity for the win
The last 5 years saw everyone becoming a bit more body-positive which has also changed the way in which many people approached nutrition. People are slowly shifting towards mindful and practising intuitive eating, thanks to the fact that we’re embracing our current physical state. “The spotlight is on eating healthy and living well because you love yourself and your body, rather than only an attempt to start loving your body. That links so perfectly with the body positive movement,” says Retha Harmse.
Cath Day agrees wholeheartedly that we all deserve to have a positive body image, regardless of how society and popular culture view ideal shape, size, and appearance. “It is not just about challenging how society views people based upon their physical size and shape, but it also recognizes that judgments are often made based on gender, race, sexuality, and disability,” she says. “It is always vitally important to be body positive and to focus on living a healthy life which includes making sure you exercise most days, choose healthy meals and snacks, sleep enough, manage your stress, refrain from smoking and have purpose and love in your life for your social and emotional wellbeing.”
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthsa.co.za
Image credit: iStock