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2017 Diet Trends

Kate Freeman

Paleo is out and vegan is in!

Here are my predictions for what will be trending in the diet and nutrition industry in 2017!

Gluten-free is here to stay!

Growing rapidly a few years ago, the popularity of the term ‘gluten-free’ has slowed somewhat but it’s definitely not on the decline. It’s still going to be a popular diet trend in 2017.

Gluten is a protein found in grains, the part that makes bread fluffy and dough elastic. It’s commonly blamed for bloating, wind and abdominal discomfort, among other things. Whether gluten is to blame for these symptoms is an article in and of itself, but non-celiac intolerance to gluten is not a trend that’s going away anytime soon.

As a nutrition professional, I would recommend that before you eliminate foods from your diet, you seek advice from an accredited practising dietitian. Don’t believe everything you read on Dr Google. There’s a lot more to nutrition and good gut health than just gluten, so get holistic advice that looks at the big dietary picture.

Paleo is out!

According to Google trends, the term ‘paleo diet’ peaked in popularity around January 2013. Since then, it’s been on a steady decline. I think we’ll see some ‘late adopters’ find paleo for the first time and give it a shot, but for those of you with your finger on the pulse, you’ll be like: “Paleo was like, so yesterday!”.

I also think that many individuals who tried paleo found it unsustainable and unable to help them lose weight, improve their energy levels or train harder like it promised it would. I’ve had LOTS of clients over the years who’ve struggled on the paleo diet and found much better success with finding a healthy eating pattern, that doesn’t eliminate food, that’s right for them. If paleo worked for you, great! I’d like to think you follow it because you’re healthy, not because it’s cool. Because paleo is no longer cool.

Low carb diets are gaining popularity

The low carb diet resurfaces nearly every decade and its popularity is showing no signs of letting up in the near future. It’s like this pesky black whisker on my chin. I keep pulling it out but it won’t stop growing!

You’ve got to admire the diet’s longevity. We first met the low carb diet when it was popularised by Dr Atkins in the 80s and 90s. I’m predicting that it’ll be a popular dietary approach in 2017 as a new generation of dieters look to cut out bread, rice, pasta and potato.

Low carb (high fat) advocates are a passionate bunch, almost religiously claiming their approach as the ‘one true diet’. I’d argue that demonising carbohydrates is repeating the same mistakes of the past when we demonised fats. We need both nutrients for good health, not one or the other. Different people need different amounts, and the best diet for you is probably somewhere in the middle the two extremes. I’ve written about this before.

Ketogenic diets are making an aggressive comeback

The ketonic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet that induces a metabolic state known as ketosis. When your body has no carbohydrates to burn, it has to rely on fat. However, when your body burns fat, without carbohydrates it produces a group of chemicals, collectively known as ketones. Your brain can’t burn fat to function, it likes to burn carbohydrate. But in a state of ketosis, it can survive on the ketones.

I’m sorry if that was a chemistry lesson you could care less about. What you need to know is that this is a hotly debated topic in the field of nutrition. Those who advocate a ketogenic diet often aren’t nutritionists, but another health professional just branching out. And they’re super passionate about it, strongly slamming any opinion contrary to their own.

I’m super interested in this topic and have done some research on the science, looking at both sides of the argument. I recently gave an academic talk about it at the University of Canberra. Long story short, ketosis can’t hurt you in the short term. It can help you lose weight quickly. The weight loss is better than other diets over the short term, but not over the long term. The long-term safety of the diet has not been properly researched. Other weight loss approaches are just as effective as ketogenic diets.

I’ve no idea what has caused this massive spike in popularity but it’s going to be a popular discussion point in 2017! Bring it on! I love debating science.

Clean eating is being swept away (see what I did there?)

I’m so glad about this. The term clean eating give me the irrits. Mostly because it causes so much anxiety around food that’s just not necessary. Most people who push a ‘clean’ diet are also not properly qualified. They just pick and choose what they think is clean based on their ‘research’ (or more specifically Google searches – where health bloggers just regurgitate other health bloggers).

There’s so much information about what is clean and what’s not clean and it’s often inconsistent. For example, clean eating means eating whole foods and cutting out processed foods or foods with long ingredients lists. However, I’ve read that lettuce (a whole food) might not be ‘clean’ if it’s washed and packaged in plastic, but a protein powder (a processed food with lots of ingredients) for your mason jar smoothie is OK. Huh?

I think it’s a case of if you Instagram your food and hashtag it #cleaneating, then it must be! I think we’ll gradually see less of this trend in 2017 and for more years to come. Thank goodness that common sense will prevail.

Dairy free is gradually rising

It seems that many people are starting to wonder if drinking the milk from the udder of a cow is right for them. I’ve definitely come across more dairy hate in the past two years than I have over the entire course of my 12-year career. Although the idea of going dairy free is becoming popular, it doesn’t mean that there’s truth to the arguments or that you need to worry about it.

If you’re not lactose intolerant or allergic to the protein, cows milk is totally fine to include as part of a healthy, balanced diet. You don’t want to build you entire diet out of dairy, but if you like milk, yoghurt and cheese, then you can keep on eating them without stress. If you’re not keen on milk and dairy products then seek advice as to other sources of calcium and protein. Many milk alternatives, don’t mimic the nutrition found in cows milk and are not great substitutes if you haven’t planned your whole diet well.

Vegan is the new paleo

I put my money on this being one of the most popular dietary approaches in 2017. Generally fuelled by ethics and concerns about sustainability, veganism is more than just a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Google trends show a sharp increase in individuals searching on the topic in the past six months and this is likely to continue into the new year.

I’ve written before about vegan diets and what we can learn from them. However, like all dietary approaches, they can be healthy or not healthy based on how well they’re planned and how effectively you make food choices day to day.

Quitting sugar is not so sweet

Like paleo and clean eating, the term ‘quit sugar’ is also trending a lot less on Google these days. I wholeheartedly believe we need to reduce the sugar in our diets, but the ‘quit sugar’ message is quite misleading and unhelpful. That’s because sugar is in nearly everything! If you were to truely quit sugar you could only eat meat, chicken or fish. And that would cause you problems. Lots of ‘shitty’ problems.

I also think that people are over the business endorsements and dodgy agendas of these ‘I quit sugar’ bloggers. One of which recently released their own brand of rice malt syrup. Which, by the way, is sugar! And processed sugar at that.

They’re pretty much saying: “Quit all sugar and now buy my special sugar so you can still eat all the yummy foods you love.” In order to make their marketing message more consistent, when they say sugar, they mean really mean fructose (a type of sugar), which their special brand doesn’t contain. But fruit contains fructose, so you have to quit that too and then gradually add it back in. So you can’t eat fructose by you can eat fruit. Well some fruits and not all and not too much. Confusing much?

I genuinely believe you’re smarter and better than this.

My approach: I’ll help you reduce your sugar intake and improve your overall diet quality so that you’ll consistency nourish your body and meet your daily nutrient needs, all while you navigate the busyness of life and still enjoy the things you love. It doesn’t really need to be more complicated than that.

Low FODMAP is the trendiest way to beat the bloat

This trend surprised and impressed me. The low FODMAP diet is experiencing major growth in popularity and it’s awesome because it’s a fantastic, evidenced based approach to managing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. The Healthy Eating Hub has had great results with our clients who’ve followed it. Our dietitians are very experienced with helping their clients get results, beat their symptoms and figure out exactly what foods are triggering their intolerances. Don’t do guess work with your gut health, get professional help.

Juice cleanses are so last year

These short (less than seven days) dietary protocols have no evidence to back them up yet they make the most outrageous claims about what they can do for your health. Besides making you poop water for a few days and experience extensive headaches and nausea (which they claim means the cleanse is working), you’ll be better off leaving these on the shelf.

I’m very happy to see their popularity decreasing. They’ll not be a top nutrition trend of 2017.

Matcha is the darling of 2017

There’s always one trend that outshines them all and my bet is it’ll be matcha! Matcha is ground up green tea. A very fine green powder of Japanese origin. Instead of steeping the tea, like you would for regular green tea, you dissolve the green powder into water, milk or other foods. It’s so popular you can already get matcha lattes, matcha ice cream , matcha noodles and Google even dished up a matcha Kit Kat.

There are already a number of cafes around Canberra serving up green hot milk (match lattes) and I reckon that it’ll pop up all over the place! I had my first one just the other week. It tasted like blended up backyard lawn in lukewarm milk, but after a sachet of raw sugar it was a little easier to gulp down. I persevered, because if the health claims about matcha are true, I’m going to live forever!

If you’re over the diet trends and keen to start taking responsibility for making healthy changes in 2017, then my team and I can help.

The Healthy Eating Hub can empower those who are ready for long-term, realistic change. You can get 40% off your consultations if you book in December and January!

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Kate Freeman

Kate Freeman is a Registered Nutritionist and the founder and managing director of The Healthy Eating Hub. Kate’s healthy eating philosophy is all about whole, fresh foods, being realistic about life and creating long term healthy eating habits. She doesn’t believe in detoxes, fad diets or quick fixes. Once you’ve finished working with Kate, you’ll be empowered to feed yourself well for the rest of you life! More about the Author

  • Maddie

    I agree about the quitting sugar. I think people are starting to think critically about the message – especially when the recipes call for the replacement of cane sugar with things like honey and malt syrup (still sugars). You don’t have to make extreme dieting decisions or obscure food swaps to be nutritionally balanced.

  • Adrian Day

    What a fantastic article. Thank you. It will definitely make my Articles of the Week page for sure.

  • Brenda Johnson

    1. Paleo and keto are variants of low carb. All are here to stay.
    2. Quitting sugar is easy. Just eat real food. Industry will get the hint- it already is.
    3. Low carb cures the bloat more effectively than avoiding a few onions (FODMAP)
    4. You are right that low carbers are passionate. This is the year of militant action to take back our health and help others fight the misinformation that is rampant from a very sad and corrupt the food and nutrition industry.