Each new year brings new food and nutrition trends that consumers are excited to explore. And dietitians must stay abreast of these trends so they can be aware of current consumer attitudes and guide clients to develop more healthful eating patterns. Below are five food and nutrition trends for 2017 and ways your clients can effectively incorporate them into their diet and lifestyle.
- Low-FODMAP Foods: FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. The low-FODMAP diet, which limits foods containing high levels of FODMAPS such as fructans, sorbitol, fructose, lactose, and galactooligosaccharides, has been found to improve symptoms of individuals suffering from gastrointestinal disorders and is expected to continue growing in popularity among those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Becoming familiar with foods that contain short-chain carbohydrates, as well as those that meet low-FODMAP criteria, can help you leverage this trend to council patients with IBS.
- Functional Foods: Foods like chia seeds, avocados, walnuts, and fermented foods still top the charts and are becoming more mainstream staples in consumers’ kitchens. In addition, functional foods like turmeric, beet juice, and matcha green tea are climbing the ranks as ways to possibly decrease inflammation and increase energy. Consumer interest in including these foods in their diets is expected to continue to rise in 2017, as it has over the past several years. This presents an opportunity for dietitians to educate clients on the health benefits of these foods and offer advice on how to incorporate them into dietary patterns.
- Food Waste: More and more consumers are advocating for decreased food waste. In an effort to make the planet a better place, people are finding ways to repurpose common food waste like stems, skins, rinds, and bones. Encourage clients to use more and waste less by highlighting the nutritional profile of foods commonly tossed in the garbage and sharing creative ways to use them (eg, pickling lemon peels and making homemade bone broth).
- Unconventional Proteins: While consumers are still enjoying traditional protein sources, they’re also embracing new ones, such as allergy-friendly pea protein and lean goat meat, which are expected to grow in popularity in 2017. These unique alternatives offer variety to clients looking to explore new protein options. To read more about pea protein, read the article “Pea Protein” in the December 2016 issue of Today’s Dietitian.
- Meal Kits: Meal kits appeal to consumers’ desires for convenient, delicious, and easy-to-prepare meals. With premeasured, fresh ingredients and detailed instructions, meal kit services can help clients feel confident about their food choices. Meal kit services cater to a wide variety of audiences, and dietitians can discuss these programs to help clients with special dietary needs turn nutrition advice into action. To learn more, read “Meal Delivery Services” in the January issue of Today’s Dietitian.
Trends provide an opportunity for dietitians to educate engaged consumers. By keeping abreast of today’s ever-changing nutrition world, dietitians can help clients apply nutrition recommendations in new, exciting, and innovative ways.
— Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN, is a Chicago-based dietitian, founder of Eat Chic Chicago, and a communications expert at FoodMinds. She’s a freelance nutrition writer, recipe developer, and author of Idiot’s Guides: Autoimmune Cookbook.