11 Nutrition and Wellness Trends for 2021
What’s The Latest in Healthy Foods and Self-Care?
Eating well and practicing wellness and self-care isn’t a trend – it’s a choice. In times of stress and with the daily challenges of family and work, it’s all too easy to let good eating and wellness habits fall aside. 2020 was certainly stressful, and 2021 is continuing to be challenging. Some people used 2020 and the self-quarantine as an opportunity to boost their health priorities and to cook or order healthy meals at home, increase their physical activity and take care of their mental health.
For the rest of us, we need to get motivated and excited to get back on track and prioritize our well-being. 2021 has some exciting nutrition and wellness trends that are getting good results – as well as some questionable practices.
Here are 9 nutrition and wellness trends that will help you get back on track – and 2 trends we don’t recommend (and why!)
1. Immunity Boosters
EatingWell.com reports that views of articles on immunity were up over 700% in 2020! Nutrition is linked to immunity and infections. Sleep, exercise and mental health also contribute to a strong immune system. Immunity boosters that are trending in 2021 include:
- Wellness shots of concentrated juices with ingredients such as ginger, turmeric, wheatgrass, citrus, echinacea, cayenne pepper or apple cider vinegar
- Nutrition immunity boosters such as eating a more plant-based diet and fewer processed foods
- Botanicals in the forms of vitamins, teas, tinctures, IV drips and herbs
If you have questions about boosting your own immune system, see my article Wondering How to Boost Immune System Function?
During the long days of quarantine, cocktailing at home was clearly on the upswing as workers tried to find a way to transition from a day of working at home to an evening at home. Drinking less alcohol ranked high on many New Year’s Resolution lists, and dryuary has been a trending topic throughout January. Whether you choose to go cold-turkey and eliminate all alcohol in the month of January and join the dryuary trend, or if you simply want to cut back on the amount of alcohol you drink, drinking less for better physical and mental health is a clear wellness trend in 2021.
3. Sleeping Better
It’s not always possible to sleep more hours – but it is almost always possible to sleep better. Improving the quality of your nightly sleep can include strategies such as
- Blocking out the bluelights on TVs, radios and other electronic devices in the bedroom
- Getting off all devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime
- Setting a regular time to go to bed
- Better quality bedding: it doesn’t have to be expensive, but you spend hours every day in bed – when was the last time you bought a new pillow?
- Practicing light yoga relaxation stretches before bed
Practicing meditation and mindfulness has been a growing trend over the past few years. More and more people are looking for ways to provide themselves with inner calm and a feeling of well-being. For people just starting a meditation practice, there are many apps, calendars and guides to meditation – even some online meditation classes!
As someone that has personally studied mindfulness and vipassana mediation for years I sure missed being able to attend live meditation sessions and teachings. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’ve enjoyed being able to learn and continue to grow my practice by recently signing up for an online live meditation group. Group accountability and community connection can absolutely help you develop a practice.
Have you – or someone you live with – promised to go vegetarian? And then you’ve observed them sneaking a burger? Becoming a vegetarian isn’t right for everyone. There are many ways to achieve good health. Many people enjoy eating animal foods such as meat, poultry, dairy and eggs and they simply won’t be able to commit to a vegetarian diet. But flexitarianism – what I call “sometimes-atarian” – is a reasonable goal for many meat lovers that want to add more meatless meals into their life.
For more tips on how to plan a healthy vegetarian diet visit my article How to Plan a Healthy Vegetarian Diet
6. Choosing Happiness
Some days it’s hard to find something to be happy about. But most of the time, happiness is a choice. Happiness is how you frame a particular event – not what it did to you, but what it did for you. Choosing happiness is an important trend in 2021 because it provides us with the opportunity to control and enhance our own mental health and well-being.
Yale University’s most popular course in its history is called “The Science of Well Being,” taught by Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos. The class on how to live a happier life is now free online through Coursera.
7. Functional Foods
The pandemic has resulted in changes in how consumers understand health and wellness and has increased consumer interest in functional foods or foods that are fortified, enriched or enhanced to provide health benefits beyond the provision of basic nutrients. The functional nutrition trend has food and beverage companies creating products that contain ingredients with an emphasis on reducing stress and improving sleep, which is also linked to better mental health.
8. Demise of Diet Culture
Restrictive, gimmicky and expensive diets are losing popularity. Health experts predict that consumers are becoming tired of celebrity diet ads and social media promotions. A public backlash against high-profile diets and instead data from the International Food Information Council Federation finds that 39% of consumers are newly interested in mindful or intuitive eating.
This is music to our ears given our Dietitian team for 20 years has been advocating for a non-dieting approach to eating to increase joy, freedom and help you live your best life. For more information about our nutrition counseling services that focus on helping you eat well and still have a life check out our virtual nutrition counseling programs by our professional Registered Dietitian team.
For more information visit my previous articles on our blog Mindful Eating for Health and Meal Satisfaction and Intuitive Eating: Freedom from Dieting for Weight Loss.
9. Meal Kits
During the months of self-quarantine, many families discovered that cooking and eating together can be an enjoyable family activity – at the same time that families avoided grocery shopping. Pre-shopped meal kits delivered to the home provided both interesting menus and the safety of at-home grocery delivery.
Meal kit companies have expanded to offer much more variety, and some at very affordable prices. Many kits take on the added benefit of localism by delivering meal kits from local farmers and food producers.
And a couple of food and wellness trends we don’t like…
10. Keto Diet
Following the keto diet for weight loss continues to grow in popularity in 2021. The diet promises fast weight loss by severely restricting your intake of carbohydrates, which causes your liver to turn fat and certain amino acids into ketones which is an alternative fuel source for the brain – a process known as ketosis. Most keto dieters quickly regain the weight they lost after they stop following the diet.
As a Registered Dietitian, we know that your brain and muscles run on carbs. When carbs are not available in your diet and you are running on ketones results can include fatigue, poor concentration and can reduce overall mood, mental health and productivity through your day. Insufficient carbohydrates for your muscles can also lead to worsening athletic performance, poor recovery and inability to repair and build muscle.
I talk more about the side effects of the keto diet in To Keto or Not to Keto, That is the Question: A Dietitian’s Thoughts About the Keto Diet.
11. Intermittent Fasting
Many dieters choose intermittent fasting to increase their metabolism rate and to curb their snacking habit by establishing patterns of fasting and eating to restrict when they eat. Intermittent fasting was the #1 most-Googled diet of 2019 and the 2nd most Googled diet in 2020 – after keto. . While some people use intermittent fasting to lose weight by limiting when they are allowed to eat, for many people the program’s strict rules mask an eating disorder.
For more information on intermittent fasting read my article: How Often Should I Eat? The Scoop on Grazing and Fasting for Your Metabolism.
As a Registered Dietitian, nutrition blogger and mom, I often see first-hand the results of the latest food and wellness trends in my practice and in my home life. In the new year I’m pleased to see a stronger focus on achieving healthiness without guilt or deprivation. As the Chocoholic Nutritionist®, I believe we can enjoy everything in moderation – and that you can have a healthy and joyous relationship with your food and body.
Looking for more simple meal planning tips and healthy recipes for a healthier lifestyle? Sign up for our weekly newsletter for a healthy recipe of the week (and nutrition articles and videos with a balanced living philosophy to help encourage healthy habits but still save room for your favorites). Our nutrition newsletter is written by the Online / Calgary Nutritionists on our team who each hold a professional Registered Dietitian license to ensure you are getting credible advice.