The New Year is going to be a time for change, hope, growth and inspiration, plus there are some new health trends for 2014 that can also make you healthier, fitter and feel more balanced. I always love trying new healthy things at the beginning of the new year, and making them last all year. This doesn’t mean dieting, but instead, trying new things that can make you healthier, happier, and enhance your life, in different ways that trends in the previous year did. Note, this doesn’t mean the basics of eating healthy and living well are trends. Those will always be core principles that carry over into every year, but certain changes and trends each year can help you try new things that you might not have otherwise, or are a sign of the growth of health awareness in our country. Take note of these health trends for 2014 and go ahead and start trying some of them now, if you’re not already. You’ll be rolling into the New Year healthy, trendy and ready to share your tips with others!
If you’re not already a fan of tea, then be aware this is one of the top health trends for 2014. Brewing almost any kind of tea is all the craze right now, and though java lovers are still welcome to have their coffee, tea is the new guy in town that’s not just for losing weight anymore. It’s also being used in alternative medicine as a great way to monitor stress, help arthritis, insomnia, and reduce calorie consumption from sodas, energy drinks and high calorie fast food options. Always opt for plain tea with lemon and add a healthy sweetener like stevia. Tea is full of antioxidants that reduce heart inflammation, joint pain, stress, and more. Sip 2-3 cups a day or more, and choose between herbal, green, decaf green, black and white tea.
Another new trend this year is going to be in the grain department. Quinoa has been the queen of grains for quite some time, though, we’ve seemed to have forgotten about the benefits of more common ones like oats, wild rice and amaranth in the process. This year, it’s time to pay attention to new super grains, which I’m already seeing in common superstores, not just trendy Whole Foods. These grains include freekah and teff, which are cultural superfoods from different countries all over the world. They’re high in B vitamins, protein, iron, fiber, magnesium, manganese and amino acids. If you see them on the aisle at your grocery store, pick up a bag to try. They cook up just like other grains and can be used anywhere you would use quinoa, oats or rice. They have a nutty flavor, are easy to digest and are incredibly healthy for you.
In the last five years, it's been all about the juice, but not this year. People are becoming more aware of the adverse effects that even straight green juice can have on blood sugar. This year? It's all about the fiber! This makes green smoothies the best replacement for juice. Yes, juice is a perfectly healthy food, but because it has no fiber, though it's easily digested and provides nutrition, it also sends blood sugar levels soaring. It can also cause people with blood sugar issues to suffer hypoglycemia. If you're going to have juice, that's great, but consider having it with a meal instead of alone. Otherwise, opt for that smoothie. This way, your body gets all the precious fiber from the foods, and your blood sugar levels stay on course much better.
A veggie that’s been around for years is now being more commonly used than it’s green twin, broccoli. Cauliflower is the new hot food of the year, to use in grain-free pizza crusts, in place of rice when grated as “cauli-rice”, in casseroles instead of breadcrumbs, or just roasting it with herbs and spices. You can also cream it up after you steam it like you would mashed potatoes to use as a low calorie replacement to potatoes too.
Our country has been seduced by the gluten-free craze for years now, but now, we’re going to start seeing a new light on this whole gluten-free thing. Instead of just gluten-free for weight loss, we’re going to start seeing allergy-free foods everywhere. Food companies are becoming more aware that consumers need allergy free alternatives when allergies seem to be on the rise now more than ever. Allergy-free everything will soon be popping up, so keep your eyes open if you’re sensitive. One note though, be sure when you choose allergy-free foods that you don’t buy foods high in sugar, sodium or refined grains. Doing so is no better nutritionally than buying some processed and junk foods. Make sure you choose whole foods as much as possible when buying any food, allergy free or not.
This is one of my favorite trends of all the new ones this year. The science isn’t new behind this trend, but the focus on it is. Instead of focusing on foods that enhance weight loss, or are diet foods, the new trend is eating foods to fuel your body, as needed on different days. For instance, on workout days, or really busy days, the key is to eat more foods that provide quick, but long sustaining fuel like fish and a healthy carb with a serving of veggies, or a bowl of plain oats in the morning with Greek yogurt and some flax seeds with berries. No longer are we being told to focus on foods that cause us to drop pounds, but now being told how to eat depending on our day ahead. For a lighter day without much activity, a person wouldn’t need to focus so much on foods that provide immediate fuel and are a quick energy source, but should still eat healthy. Generally, though this doesn’t mean we’re going to be eating new foods. It gives us a new perspective on how to eat, instead of how to diet.
Though nuts are a health food I would encourage absolutely anyone to eat, now, the new trend is to focus on seeds more than nuts as our go-to health choices. Seeds are actually packed with more nutrition than nuts, are easier to digest for some and are non-allergenic. The most nutrient dense include pumpkin, chia, flax, and hemp, but don’t forget about sunflower seeds either. And, if you didn’t already know, quinoa and almonds are actually seeds in their biological makeup, so keep them in your diet too, and count them in your seed allotment for the day. I like to sprinkle a tablespoon of seeds on my oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies and even on top of some soups. This adds nutrition and keeps me from snacking on them endlessly out of the bag.
We’ve heard so much negativity about whey protein in the past, but now, grass fed whey protein products are going to be all the buzz. Though technically, I like using a hemp protein powder, I do believe there can be many benefits to whey protein from clean, grass fed sources, because it’s higher in amino acids and higher in bioavailable protein than all plant sources. It’s not a protein i would suggest eating a lot of, but for a short post-workout shake, it does make for a good source of protein, if from the right source, i.e grass fed, hormone free and organic. Choose varieties without added sugar whenever possible. One good brand on the market right now is called Stronger Faster Healthier Pure Whey, along with Philosophie Superfoods Raw, Hormone Free Whey protein from grass fed cows. You can find SFH Pure Whey at : sfh.com and Philosophie whey at : thephilosophie.com.
In the craze of finding green smoothies, juices and the Paleo diet, our culture seems to have forgotten about the humble bowl of soup. But watch out, because in 2014, soup is making a comeback! Soups are low in calories and are usually free of additives if you use clean ingredients in your recipes. Plus, they’re a great vehicle for lean protein and veggies, without a lot of added fat. Just be sure not to overload them with oil or pasta, so you don’t negate the benefits.
As you can see, these trends aren’t crazy diets or trends like we’ve seen in years past. They’re all actually pretty practical. If you have heard of a health trend for 2014 that you think is pretty awesome, would you mind sharing it with me? I love staying in the know when it comes to health, nutrition and news on wellness!