With the new year comes an increased emphasis on “wellness” as people make their New Year’s resolutions – including better health, better fitness, and better nutrition. Too often, however, these resolutions can lead to unhealthy habits or choices when in pursuit of a goal.
It’s important to understand that the wellness market is an industry with many players and is globally valued at more than $1.5 trillion and continues to grow every year. Consumers have responded: 79% of consumers from six countries, including the U.S., in a recent survey said they believe wellness is important, and 42% consider it a top priority.
If you feel pressured to try a new diet or health and wellness trend, consider the source: is it coming from an expert, or from a non-professional who seeks to gain from the sale of a product? Other red flags include diets that cut out entire food groups or are too restrictive. And if a wellness product or trend sounds too good to be true – listen to that inner voice; as it’s probably right.
Here are some of the top health and food trends to watch for in 2023:
- Supplements for every issue: Many people are increasingly conscious about their health in today’s post-pandemic world. Now more than ever, companies are marketing supplements to match consumers’ concerns over boosting immunity and improving or maintaining overall health. It’s also likely we’ll see an increase in supplements touting nutrients that will enhance mood and an individual’s appearance. Supplements are often marketed through influencers on social media, who use their platforms to promote products – often for their own profit in promotions deals they have inked with manufacturers. It’s important to know that the supplement industry is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the products are not tested to see if they are safe or live up to the marketing claims. Talk to a health care provider before starting any new supplement.
- Natural sweeteners: What’s trending this year will be natural sources of sugar – and capitalizing on naturally sweet foods to mimic a processed, manufactured product. For example, dates have been increasingly used in recipes as a natural sweetener. A recent viral video on TikTok featured a recipe of a date filled with peanut butter, drizzled in chocolate and topped with peanuts – and tasted just like a Snickers bar. Watch for a rise in products using naturally sweet foods like dates, pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, honey, and fruit juices as additives instead of sugar or manufactured sugar alternatives.
- Balanced approach to eating: An increasing number of dietitians and health professionals are encouraging their clients and consumers to pursue a life of balanced eating to re-shape their mindset regarding health. For many years, diet culture has caused many individuals – especially women – to feel guilty for consuming desserts or for over-indulging. Now, there’s a shift to accepting balance in everyday life: yes, eating healthy, whole foods that incorporate lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables is important – but it’s also fine to have the occasional sweet treat or salty snack without guilt. Taking a realistic approach to everyday eating helps change the mindset about what we put into our bodies, as we focus more on well-being instead of weight or pants size.
- Global ingredients: Move over, everything bagel seasoning. This year, expect to see an increased emphasis on international spice blends. One you may hear about is dukkah, also spelled duqqa, which is an Egyptian blend of herbs, nuts, and spices, which includes sesame seeds, coriander, and cumin. Spices that bring heat to cultural dishes will likely be more prominently featured and may introduce U.S. consumers to new tastes and flavor dimensions. Another recent star has been Korean gochujang, a red chili paste that includes rice and fermented soybeans and can be used to flavor marinades, dipping sauces, or soups. Other rising flavors to watch for include Sichuan chili crisp, West African shito sauce, Mexican salsa macha, Spanish romesco, Indian achaar, and Filipino adobo.
- More whole-food ingredients: Ultra-processed foods (think hot dogs, lunch meat, packaged cookies, salty snacks, fast food, and pop) will be out of the spotlight this year, as there will be an increased focus on whole-food ingredients. This is partly due to how Americans are responding to post-pandemic life, as a recent poll indicted more than 70% of Americans are now more aware of how they treat their bodies. Individuals that consume more ultra-processed foods are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, according to a recent study. Watch for products boasting their whole-food status.
- Tinned fish: Anchovies, sardines, and mackerel are staple meal components in many countries – but in the U.S., the majority of tinned fish consumed is tuna. Thanks to social media channels, consumers in the U.S. are being exposed to different recipes and uses of tinned fish. There will likely be more international twists on tinned fish in the coming year, as tinned fish can be made into a tasty spread or can be featured on top of a salad, pizza, appetizer, or toast. Tinned fish are nutrient powerhouses with high levels of omega-3 fats, as well as zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, and vitamin B.
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more recipes and health information, visit ahealthiermichigan.org.
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