Thinking of starting anew with healthy eating or perhaps just trying some different foods? Those are good goals to aim for! If this sounds like you, keep reading to learn about some current food and nutrition trends.
More plant-based foods.
Plant foods aren’t going away anytime soon. A more “plant-forward” approach to eating can include vegetarian or vegan eating plans, but can also include meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, too (just in smaller amounts). The point is to focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds – and this holds true for people with diabetes, too. Here’s what this way of eating might look like:
- Aiming for “five a day” — servings of vegetables and fruits, that is.
- Including more legumes in your eating plan. Lentils, beans, edamame, and chickpeas are legume superstars and thanks to their fiber and protein content, they can nicely fit into a diabetes eating plan.
- Eating more sea plants. Seaweed snacks; kelp-based products, such as chips and noodles; and sea greens (nori, dulse, kombu) are nutritious and contain omega-3 fatty acids, too.
- Eating pasta made with spaghetti squash, green bananas, or other types of produce.
To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletters!
While sea plants are having a moment, seafood, such as fish and shellfish, are still big. In fact, the global seafood industry is expected to grow even more in 2023, as well as seafood consumption in the U.S., according to the website panapesca.com.
- Interest in pescatarian diets is growing. A pescatarian diet includes seafood, but no meat or poultry.
- Sustainable seafood is important to consumers, and the seafood industry will be expected to support sustainable fishing practices.
- Seafood provides numerous health benefits, helping to promote brain and heart health, and maybe even fending off depression. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of seafood each week.
- While fresh seafood is tasty, the price tag may scare you off a bit. Don’t overlook frozen seafood and even canned seafood, such as tuna, salmon, and sardines.
Supporting gut health.
More and more research points to the link between our gut microbiota and digestive conditions, as well as chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer. While we learn more about this link, we can eat foods that keep those good bacteria in the gut healthy and happy. Foods to focus on include those that contain probiotics:
- Yogurt with live, active cultures. Stick with plain versions rather than the fruited varieties, which are high in carbohydrate.
- Miso, which is fermented soybeans. Add miso to a stir-fry, salad dressing, or a soup or stew.
- Sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage. Choose an unprocessed sauerkraut — sauerkraut that has been pasteurized or made with vinegar won’t contain probiotics.
Also, don’t forget about prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food for the probiotics. Examples include:
After a year of rising food prices, most of us can get behind this trend. We all want to get the most from our food dollars, and wasting food is never a good thing. Plus, sustainability and the health of our planet is important for many people, as well. How can you reduce your food waste?
- Buy in bulk (as long as you have a place to store excess food).
- Consider less expensive store brands.
- Cook more rather than eating out or getting take-out.
- Plan meals ahead of time.
- “Upcycle,” which means “using all of what you have,” according to the website upcycled.com. Food manufacturers upcycle foods, but consumers can do the same at home. For example, use carrot tops in pesto, roast potato peels in the oven, or blend kale stems into your smoothies. You can also buy foods that have been upcycled. The company Imperfect Foods sells “ugly” fruits and vegetables that don’t sell at grocery stores.
Whole Foods has predicted that dates will be big (referring to the fruit, of course). In general, more natural sweeteners will come into play, made from not just dates, but fruit juices, honey, coconut sugar, and monk fruit. This trend stems, in part, from a growing concern that “artificial” sweeteners may not be as risk-free as once thought. Also, there’s another trend of shying away from ultra-processed foods (snack foods, fast foods, etc.) and leaning towards more whole foods.
If you use non-nutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame or sucralose, for example, there’s no need to stop using them. But everything in moderation. And while natural sweeteners have a certain appeal, keep in mind that these are not carbohydrate-free products. If you’re not sure what sweeteners are best for you, talk with your dietitian or diabetes educator.
Trends are fun to read about, but don’t feel pressured to follow them. Instead, think about changes you might want to make to your own eating: trying new foods, learning how to cook or mastering a few signature dishes, sticking to an eating schedule, practicing mindful eating … these are just a few more ideas to consider trying. You probably have some of your own ideas, too. Here’s to a happy and healthy approach to eating!
Want to learn more about eating well? Read “Strategies for Healthy Eating,” “Improving Your Recipes: One Step at a Time,” and “Easy Ways to Eat Better.”