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This Is What a Healthy Diet Will Look Like in 2018

Plenty of food trends come and go each year, but the ones worth paying attention to are the ones that help make you healthy.

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Plant-based eating

Even if they’re not full-on vegan or vegetarian, people are moving away from a meat-centric diet towards a more plant-centric one. “This trend has been popularized by the film What the Health, and many people are becoming more aware of the health benefits of a more plant-based diet, such as better weight management, lower cholesterol/lipid levels, better digestion, and less environmental impact,” says Mascha Davis MPH, RD. Here are 11 baby steps to ease into a plant-based diet.

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Personalized nutrition

When it comes to healthy diet plans, everyone has different needs, which is why personalized nutrition is beginning to catch on. This type of eating involves looking at individuals’ genetics, as well as testing how they respond to different foods, to determine what foods are best to eat for a specific person. “People are asking for a personalized, unique plan based on their biology and labs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Davis. “It’s definitely the future, and it will help us to create more targeted interventions that are more effective.”

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Intuitive eating

Many dietitians are teaching their clients about intuitive eating, which means being able to make meal and snack decisions without scheduling meals or food rules. “It’s about listening to your feelings and instincts to gauge how much and when you eat,” says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. “In theory, this practice is supposed to make us more in tune with our bodies and help us choose healthier foods. If done properly, it would do away with emotional eating or eating out of boredom and stress.” When it comes to healthy diet plans, intuitive eating can be a great replacement for strict regimens, especially since most diets don’t work.

Fresh produce on sale at the local farmers market.Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Local/sustainably-sourced foods

In people’s quests for how to eat healthily, they’re starting with quality ingredients. “Not only are consumers concerned about what is in their food, but they want to know where the food came from,” says Rizzo. “There’s been a large emphasis on local and sustainably-sourced foods because of their positive impacts on the environment. Local food doesn’t travel as far to get to you, which reduces vehicle emissions and delivers a healthier piece of food. Plus, the sooner the food is eaten after it’s picked, the more nutrients it has.”

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Gut/microbiome health

As more research comes out on the vast array of functions our gut is involved in, gut health is becoming a hotter topic. “From mood to energy and even immunity, our gut is the center of it all,” says Davis. “Figuring out how to keep our microbiome in balance is of huge interest now and is definitely important.” Foods that contain probiotics have been all the rage, and other keywords to look out for in your food include synbiosis, prebiotics, and dysbiosis. Find out the best foods for boosting your gut health.

Golden Milk, made with turmeric and other spicesNADKI/Shutterstock

Turmeric

Golden milk lattes and turmeric shots are about to become a staple in everyone’s diet. “This is a trend that was huge in 2017 and will probably grow in popularity,” says Rizzo. “Turmeric is a potent antioxidant, and it’s being added to everything from lattes to roasted veggies to soups. The active form of turmeric comes from a compound called curcumin, which is being bottled and sold as an anti-inflammatory supplement.” This yellow spice also has amazing benefits for skin and hair.

macrobiotic foodJiri Hera/Shutterstock

Sprouted foods

“This trend involves choosing grain/nuts/seeds/bean products that have undergone the process of ‘sprouting’ before you consume them,” says Lauren Cornell, MS, RD. According to Cornell, sprouted foods have a much higher nutrient content than their non-sprouted counterparts. “Sprouted grains are typically much easier to digest from a gastrointestinal perspective,” she says. Expect to see more sprouted foods at grocery stores in the next year: Sales of sprouted grains are expected to jump eightfold in 2018.

Zucchini noodles with zucchini over a tableMegan Betteridge/Shutterstock

Veggies in place of grains

You’ve likely already seen zoodles, cauliflower rice, and sweet potato toast, and this health trend is only going to continue to grow. “These nutrient-rich substitutions are a tremendous way to eat more vegetables and less refined carbohydrates,” says Megan Casper, MS, RDN. “Swapping veggies for grains is also a great way to cut down on calories and increase the nutrients and antioxidants in your diet.”

Organic White Almond Milk in a JugBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Dairy-free milks

“Nut-based milks are definitely still a thing, and on track to become even bigger in 2018,” says Davis. “Many people are interested in new flavors and dairy alternatives.” However, not all dairy-free products, are created equal, so it’s important to look at labels and consult a registered dietitian to figure out the best choice for you. Here are five things that can happen when you stop eating dairy.

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Pulses

Pulses have risen in popularity thanks to plant-based diets. “2018 will be the year the pulses go mainstream,” says Rizzo. “Pulses are the dry, edible seeds of plants in the legume family, including chickpeas, lentils, dry peas, and beans. They are filled with fiber, protein, and iron, sustainable, affordable, and easy to use. I think many home cooks will start to replace meat with pulses in 2018, and you will see restaurants doing the same.”