At the end of the year, articles and predictions abound on what the latest, greatest, or hottest food trends will be for the upcoming year. In the recent past, for example, we’ve seen the rise in popularity of cupcakes and cake pops, quinoa, gluten-free foods, organic foods, and sustainable farming, to name a few. Some of these are still going strong, including cake pops and gluten-free foods! I’m never really sure who makes the decision to make something a trend, but it’s all very interesting.
Of course there are also food trends for 2013, and now that we’re into February, a few are worth mentioning. Not all trends are exactly healthful, mind you. But with health in mind, I’d like to highlight some of the expected food trends for this year, along with a few words on how these trends can benefit you and others who have diabetes.
Trend #1: Popcorn
Now here’s a trend that I’m all for, with a few caveats. While there’s nothing quite like sitting down to watch a movie with a bowl- or bagful of popcorn, we all know that movie-theater popcorn is jam-packed with calories and fat: A large-sized bucket will set you back about 1,600 calories and 130 grams of fat.
However, popcorn itself has much to offer. First, it’s a whole-grain food, believe it or not. Just like whole wheat bread or brown rice, popcorn counts towards your daily allotment of whole-grain foods (the goal is to aim for at least three servings each day). Second, three cups of popcorn (a serving) contain less than 100 calories, 18 grams of carbohydrate, and 1 gram of fat. Third, popcorn provides its share of fiber, with about 4 grams per 3-cup serving. Fourth, popcorn contains a respectable amount of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, iron, zinc, and manganese. And fifth, as annoying as they are, those little popcorn hulls that get stuck in your teeth are loaded with antioxidants called polyphenols, in amounts greater than what’s found in fruits and vegetables.
Granted, how the popcorn is prepared makes all the difference in the world — leave off all of that salt and melted butter — but don’t overlook this wholesome treat the next time you need a healthy but satisfying snack.
Trend #2: Eating breakfast
This one may seem ho-hum, but more and more people are realizing the importance of starting off the day with a healthful meal. While there certainly are breakfast-skippers still out there, we now have research that shows the benefits of eating soon after we wake up.
For example, studies show that breakfast eaters usually weigh less than skippers. The National Weight Control Registry, a database of people who have successfully lost and kept off weight, shows that about 80% of “successful losers” eat breakfast every day. “Skippers” are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who eat breakfast, and for people who have diabetes, eating first thing can smooth out spikes and dips in blood glucose.
The key, though, is to choose a balanced breakfast that isn’t laden with refined carbs and unhealthy fats. Whole-grain cereal or toast, healthful fat like peanut or another nut butter, a bit of protein, like an egg or some Greek-style yogurt, and some fresh fruit is a great way to start the day.
Trend #3: Vegetables galore
Kale was the vegetable darling last year and for good reason: it’s bursting with a whole host of nutrients, it’s low in calories and carbs (as are most vegetables), and it’s chock-full of phytonutrients that can go a long way in helping to prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer.
But kale, while definitely a veggie superstar, isn’t the only kid on the block. Other vegetables deserve mention, too, including broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and asparagus. Really, most vegetables offer several nutritional benefits, and the point is to eat a variety of them (think of eating the rainbow) to reap them all. Vegetables are for anytime, not just dinnertime. The Huffington Post, in its column on food trends, wrote that vegetables will be the center of the plate, not just relegated to the side.
Trend #4: Frozen foods
We’ve been programmed to believe that fresh is best when it comes to food. While no one would argue that fresh foods are top notch, we also know that not everybody is afforded the luxury of always eating fresh produce and seafood, for example.
For the most part, there’s nothing wrong with frozen foods. And with the cost of food soaring, frozen foods may be one of your best bets because you can stock up when there are sales. Fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak of ripeness and flash frozen, which helps to literally freeze in their nutrients. In many cases, frozen produce has more nutrition than fresh. And if eating frozen produce helps you eat more fruits and vegetables, all the better.
Shy away from fruits frozen in syrup and frozen vegetables in butter or cheese sauces. Frozen meats, poultry, and seafood can be equally nutritious. Just avoid those that are breaded or in any kind of sauce. Frozen dinners can be helpful in terms of their convenience and controlled portions, but choose those that contain no more than 300 calories, less than 4 grams of saturated fat, and less than 800 milligrams of sodium.
Trend #5: Men can cook
Now, I already knew this. But one of this year’s trends is that men will take more of a lead in food preparation, ranging from doing the food shopping to preparing and cooking meals. With men more likely to get Type 2 diabetes than women, it’s important that they play an active role in managing their lifestyle, which includes healthy eating and nutrition. What can make this trend even better: Making meal preparation and eating meals something that the whole family does together.