6 Tips for Making the Most of Food Trends

Are your food choices influenced by  trends, food trucks and popular television shows?

There seems to be a lot of confusion about how to make healthier food choices, especially if you seek guidance from the latest diet or follow current food trends.

Recent popular trends include the gluten-free diet and “bacon-on-everything” menu options. Food trends all start with a common food ingredient that suddenly receives attention and makes it more attractive to the consumer. But how do trends start? Here are a few factors that can spark popularity:

Chef-driven: Celebrity chefs featuring Southern-style cooking, popular television shows or food trucks.
Agricultural-driven: Kale and quinoa recipes.
Health and diet themes: Gluten-free and paleo diets.
• Flavor-of-the-month desserts and novelties: Cupcakes and bacon treats.

In some cases, food trends can have some positive benefits, such as the sudden demand for recipes that include foods like kale, quinoa, acai, or chia seeds; these foods all have great health benefits. Adding these foods to your diet has been recommended by dietitians and health professionals for years. This example is a positive food trend, since most people were unaware of the benefits, taste, or even how to eat these specific foods.

However, food trends like cupcakes, bacon, some Southern-style cooking recipes and typical food truck menus do not carry the same health benefits. Too often, those trendy foods may be packed with sodium, fat, sugar and calories.

It’s important evaluate the choices given to you to determine if there is a better choice that can be made.  Keep these six tips in mind:

1. Watch portion sizes. Limit your portion sizes of foods  that are either high in calories, filled with added sugar, salt and fat.  Be wary of foods that are processed, convenient and/or ready-to-eat.

2. Look for more veggies. Increase your daily intake of vegetables by making sure to include vegetables in your meals and snacks.

3. Balance out your options. Strive to make your meals nutrient-rich with foods that provide good sources of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats.

4. Be mindful of your liquid calories. Make water your beverage of choice. Limit beverages that provide extra calories or artificial sugars.

5. Tame your sweet tooth. Avoid the need to reach for dessert, candy, or chocolate after a meal. Try reaching for fruit instead.

6. Put your body in motion. Adapt ways to increase your daily physical activity level.

natalie-castro-204x300About Natalie Castro-Romero, M.S., R.D., LDN

Natalie Castro-Romero is the Chief Wellness Dietitian for corporate wellness at Baptist Health South Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Florida International University. She completed her master’s degree in nutrition and exercise science at the State University of New York, University at Buffalo. Ms. Romero is certified in adult weight management and works passionately to improve the health of both adults and children. Her clinical experience includes working with patients suffering from gastrointestinal disorders and critically ill patients in intensive care. In addition, she has conducted research on eating behaviors and pediatric obesity. Her research has been published in several peer-reviewed medical journals.

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