Each year that passes amplifies how vital health and wellness are to the pursuit of living our best lives. We constantly look to the latest trends in nutrition, exercise, and emotional well-being in the hope of finding better ways to nourish and strengthen ourselves.
2023 will be no different say spokespeople for the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), who share their expertise on seven of the top nutrition trends for 2023.
No more fads, focus on weight wellness babes
There’s a strong call for more kindness towards people who are overweight and obese, and a much louder calling out when it comes to fatphobia and fat-shaming. The body positivity lobby has called into question that overweight equals unhealthy, and concepts such as ‘Health at Every Size’ (HAES) are being taken up in the dietitian community.
Compassion-focused behaviour change theory emerging from the eating disorders field suggests that self-acceptance is a cornerstone of self-care, meaning that people with strong self-esteem are more likely to adopt positive health behaviours.
“One of the aims of weight wellness is to reduce weight cycling because studies have found that this is worse for health outcomes compared to no dieting at all,” Harmse adds.
Navigating the waves of nutrition beliefs
While there’s never been better access to sound nutritional and health information, it is swimming in oceans of fads and false information. Lifestyle and wellness influencers hold massive sway over their social media followers and online communities. Registered dietitians are the trusted nutrition experts to provide evidence-based, sound nutrition recommendations.
Up the self-care
Self-care is set to continue as a mega trend in 2023, and intuitive eating has emerged as a gentle way to integrate eating into the self-care framework.
Harmse explains that “Intuitive eating is embedded in a self-care framework and oftentimes a lot of the diet and lifestyle fads can be put to bed by asking if it would be seen as self-care.”
In other words, intuitive eating moves us away from disordered eating and idealising thinness towards body awareness, appreciation and trust, mindfulness, enjoying our food and relaxing into making healthier food choices.
“Intuitive eating guides us to rejecting the diet mentality and challenging the food police. Instead, we can make peace with food, honour our hunger, and focus on respect for our bodies.”
We love the environment
Awareness of the impact of our lifestyles and food choices is ever-increasing and likely to be a significant influence on people in 2023.
It’s also having an impact on innovation in the food industry, driving new and different product development such as plant-based milk, lab-grown meats and plant-based meat alternatives.
Registered dietitian and Adsa spokesperson, Kgadi Moabelo says, “Our eating habits and food choices are clearly and strongly linked to health and the environment. Our choices of the food drive its production and affect the environment in the forms of energy use, polluting emissions, and other waste.”
The high cost of living is set to be a fixture of 2023 and consumers will be looking for ways to make their monthly budget stretch, says Moabelo.
“This could lead more consumers to curb their food waste and also focus on including cheaper, but highly nutritious foods such as pulses and legumes, in their family eating regimes.”
To fast, or not to fast?
Fasting continues to be widely promoted as beneficial for weight loss, blood sugar control, heart health, brain function and decreasing inflammation. There is a phenomenal increase in fasting apps providing people with regimes, calculators, and motivational guides, making it easy and tempting for novices to try out fasting, notes Laher.
Will nutritional supplements be a food solution?
There’s a fringe movement towards making food less important in our lives with an argument that modern science and technology should move us away from our dependence on nature for our food and towards a ‘foodless’ future.
Moabelo says: “The role of supplements is to boost or complement the diet. They are not meant to replace food. The current use of supplements is for disease prevention and treatment.”
Routine supplementation is sometimes necessary, especially in communities where food intake is mostly energy dense and offers lower amounts of vitamins and minerals.
“When we choose a variety of healthier food options, and eat them in adequate amounts, it is likely that we do not need to be taking supplements. Ideally, you should consult your dietitian or health professional before deciding on nutrition supplementation.
If you are feeling the need to boost your health and wellness through nutrition, then increase your intake of fresh vegetables and fruit, wholegrains, pulses and legumes. Aim to make healthier food choices and enjoy balanced meals, Moabelo tells Health For Mzansi.
Where food and mood link
New studies are shining a light on how diet may impact common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
Mental health and emotional well-being have been in the spotlight over the past few years. In line with this, the emerging concept of ‘Food and Mood’ has sparked quite some interest not only in the foods which may affect mood but also in how our gut health or gut microbiome affects mood.
“When you don’t eat enough nutrient-rich foods, your body may lack vital vitamins and minerals, often affecting your energy, mood, and brain function,” says Harmse.
If you are considering making changes to your eating in order to manage a mental health condition, it’s important to get the support of a dietitian, as these are our health professionals with the latest, science-backed nutrition expertise.
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