It’s safe to say that 2016 was a big year for the food and wellness industries. Sugar hit the headlines for its dangers in excess and while the paelo, plant-based and vegganism (that’s eating vegan but with eggs) trends dominated the blogs and high-end restaurant menus.
With more and more information available to the average foodie, our interest in healthy, delicious food is increasing every year, and 2017 will be no exception. But how do we expect 2017 to influence our shopping baskets and our dinner tables? Here, we break down the top 10 food trends for 2017 and share a taste of what’s to come…
There’s no doubt that 2016 was a fundamental year for increasing awareness of mental health issues, with everyone from celebrities to political figures sharing their experiences to underline that emotional wellness is as important as physical health.
Various holistic practices such as mindfulness have been explored, and 2017 is set to be the year of mindful eating. Jess from JS Health predicts a focus on the association between gut function and mental health, saying: “There is some great research about gut health linking to anxiety disorders”.
Harvard Health Publications explains that the association of the digestive system and the brain is due to the fact that the gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion: “The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach's juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person's stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That's because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected.”
Following the surge in communication around mental health and more taboo aspects of dieting, Jess continues: “I think bloggers will feel more comfortable talking about certain topics that were previously off limits.” Meaning that 2017 could be the year that the health world really begins to understand the complex relationship between psychology and eating, allowing for diets and eating plans that are emotionally-sensitive and sustainable throughout the ups and downs of life.
Key ingredients in this trend will be vitamin-D rich foods like kale to counter Seasonal Affective Disorder, plus probiotics such as Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Lactococcus.
Gastrointestinal health is a mainstay of health trends in 2017 with a significant amount of research discussing the links between gut health and weight loss. As Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology, told Body and Soul, “The more diverse your gut microbes, the more likely you are to be healthy and lean, and the more sparse your microbes, the more likely you are to be overweight.”
This is why health professionals are set to steer away from advocating for exclusion diets in 2017, because, as each individual’s “microbiome” is unique, every person will respond to carbohydrates, fats and sugars differently. Drastic diets therefore disturb the stomach’s microbial balance and cause fatigue, which releases the fat-storing stress hormone, cortisol, kicks in, increasing blood sugar and insulin levels.
As an alternative to dramatic diets, in 2017, wellbeing professionals are promoting attentiveness to gut health as a way to maintain a healthy weight. One interesting way that this research interacts with the food industry is, perhaps strangely, fermenting. The Telegraph says: “With gut health still a wide concern, fermented drinks such as kombucha, a raw, fermented tea, are no longer niche. Several restaurants make their own, including Rawduck in London and Silo in Brighton, while Jarr, in Hackney, claims to be Europe’s first kombucha tap room.”
These fermented beverages are likely to be a major element of any health-conscious foodie’s day, boasting health benefits such as improved digestion, weight loss, increased energy, immune support and reduced joint pain.
There has been a significant amount of discussion around the topic of detoxification in 2016, but the overarching consensus going into 2017 is that detoxing must be a natural and holistic process.
Extreme, long-term exclusion diets are a thing of the past, and instead detoxes must be facilitated through eating whole foods. Shannon from Whole Foodie Booty suggests that a particularly noteworthy resource this year is the work of Dr. Mark Hyman. She says:
“His work in functional medicine and optimizing your metabolism and genes through proper nutrition is sound and effective. He's all about eating real foods and avoiding all of the unnatural denatured fake foods we so often find in the supermarket. Any time I've wanted to detox I've turned to his Ultra Simple Diet, which is great for people who don't want to commit to anything long-term. They can just jumpstart their results and transform their health.”
As 2016 saw the revelation that sugar industries had been skewing the results of scientific research to reduce the emphasis on the links between sugar and conditions such as obesity and diabetes, it is likely that low-sugar diets and detoxes will be even more popular in 2017. The reduction of sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods is set to be a non-negotiable basis for any detox plan, with the remainder of the programmes being focused on consuming a balance of natural whole foods. Guided detox plans will move from books to interactive experiences, such as detox programmes as part of luxury spa breaks, where expert nutritionists coach participants on how to eat fulfilling and healthy meals whilst ridding the body of toxins for a more balanced and energetic body and mind.
In 2016 we saw the rise of a huge international movement against food wastage. From supermarket leftovers to ‘ugly veg’, individuals are being encouraged to buy food that doesn’t fit the mould of the ‘perfect’ specimen, and to use everything they buy rather than throwing items away. In 2017, this trend is set to expand into meals themselves, as restaurants and home cooks alike endeavour to use leftover ingredients in dishes.
Whole Foods Market explains:“Whether it’s leftover whey from straining Greek yogurt or spent grains from beer; brands are finding creative — and delicious — ways to use every edible component of food production. For example, Sir Kensington’s, a condiment brand, has created Fabanaise, a vegan mayo made with aquafaba — the liquid left behind from cooking chickpeas. And a company called ReGrained produces granola bars from the spent grains used in making beer.”
This will be matched in the home by ‘root-to-stem’ cooking, where every part of a vegetable is used, or meats being cooked ‘three ways’ to make use of not just traditional cuts, but adding in stocks made out of nutrient-rich bones and crispy skins as garnishes.
As we move further into 2017, the traditional mantra of three meals a day will be even further deconstructed. Snacking is no longer shameful, but we are being encouraged to ‘snack mark’. BBC Good Food claims: “According to our trends panel, a continued blurring of mealtimes will mean more of us opt to graze instead of eat three meals a day. Picking and sharing small plates are on the rise, as are healthier snack solutions, so expect to see lower-sugar and high-protein bites.”
Food bloggers are increasingly finding that their most popular recipes are for easy, nutritious snacks that readers can cook and then take to work or spread out over a number of days. Rather than succumbing to the mid-meal sugar craving, smart snackers are planning ahead by making small dishes that deliver the energy they need to last through the day, which, more often than not, are packed full of flavour, too.
While there are always going to be the hardcore dieters and the more lenient eaters, in 2017 health bloggers are moving away from the promotion of strict diets. Formerly, ‘cheat days’ were all the rage, but more and more people are recognising that bingeing on unhealthy foods on one day a week and fasting for the other six days is not sustainable.
Instead, a balanced approach is key. According to Whole Foods Market, “People are finding flexible ways to eat “cleaner” or “healthier,” and they’re discovering the mix of foods that make them feel best without having to be so stringent about it. We’re seeing folks go vegan before 6pm; 80/20 eaters who do paleo on weekdays; pescatarians who eat the occasional burger. It’s all about figuring out what makes you feel good.”
Last year, turmeric was one of the superfood stars of the health industry. As its powerful anti-inflammatory properties were explored, some researchers even began to believe that cooking with the ingredient could help to prevent cancer. The popularity of this ingredient is set to continue in 2017, but it will also open healthy eaters’ minds to international approaches to nutritional health.
Food Business News claim, “The remarkable rise of turmeric as a trending ingredient in recent years has become a gateway to American exploration of Ayurveda”, and particularly the Indian concept of dosha. This is the study of the body’s constitution, and turmeric occupies a central role in the belief as a balancing additive.
Liz Moskow, culinary director of Sterling-Rice Group, told Food Business News:
“The reason we’re predicting people will start eating more towards the philosophy of dosha is that we’re riding this wave of yoga and Indian street food and bringing that mainstream. Once people realize turmeric is enhancing their lifestyle and preventing disease and helping with inflammation, they will to start to look into Ayurveda more and see what foods they should avoid and what foods might be good for their constitution.”
Plant-based diets are already huge in the UK, popular with everyone from ethical eaters to dieters and even athletes. However, in 2017, even steadfast omnivores are set to substitute meat dishes for plant-based alternatives as a regular part of their diet.
Last year, the health risks of over-indulgence in red meats and processes meats was exposed, leading to many to increase their intake of the trusty greens. The Telegraph predicts, “Expect to see more broccoli, aubergine and cauliflower, among others, replacing meat as mains.”
Both in restaurants and at home, vegetables are set to comprise a focal point, being more cleverly infused with meat-like flavours and textures to appeal to all palates. The Telegraph adds: “Many of next year’s cookbooks will major on vegetables, while we’ll also see developments in “plant butchery”, which uses soy, pea and other proteins to create realistic-looking, and tasting, meat alternatives.”
While Jess forecasts that the paelo trend will come to an end in 2017, many of us will continue limiting our intake of refined carbohydrates. Consumer Reports cites pasta as one of the main dishes where this will become evident. They say: “Alternative pastas made from chickpeas, lentils, and other legumes are gaining ground because people want more protein and fewer refined carbs in their diets. They have the same amount of calories as regular pasta (200 per cup, cooked), but bean pastas are higher in fibre and protein.”
Last year, we saw the rise of spiralised ‘courgetti’ and various other route vegetables as pasta alternatives, this year these more authentic alternatives will come out on top. Particularly for fitness enthusiasts and those looking for satisfying main meals that don’t give that heavy feeling, these pasta alternatives are set to take over 2017.
Although many of us are aiming to maintain a healthy diet in 2017, no-one wants to sacrifice flavour. Formerly, this was an area in which health-conscious foodies could come unstuck, as many sauces and condiments used to get that perfect balance of aromas are often full of sugars and salts.
However, in 2017, this issue is being overcome by the rise in homemade condiments. As Eater explains, “Restaurants offering house-made sauces are increasingly popular. Whether it’s a special type of sriracha or a made-from-scratch ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise, chefs will see consumers clamouring for it. Homemade condiments are experiencing centre-of-the-plate popularity.” The trend will follow into the home kitchen, where individuals will create their own flavourings from scratch, from curry pastes to marinades.
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