"Trending" on social media channels has introduced us to hot topics in the world of celebs, fashion, fitness, tragedies, celebrations, and, of course, politics. But there's no trend that captures my attention more than food trends, predicting what will be on our plates, in our refrigerators, and in our diets in the new year. Just as with other trends, the directions we take with food and eating behaviors change from year to year, but here's a glimpse of some of the expert food forecasts and how you can make the most of them:
• It's not just about what's on your plate, it's also about how it got there. Food trends expert Phil Lempert, aka "supermarket guru," says, "The most dramatic food changes are not what consumers are eating, rather who is doing the shopping and how consumers are eating."
• Man up! With men becoming more comfortable being home on the range, Lempert predicts supermarkets will increase their focus on men as they take on food shopping, meal planning, and cooking.
• If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Cone Communications, shows us 52 percent of dads and 46 percent of moms are planning meals ahead of time. Thinking ahead about what to buy, create, and serve will not only save time, but it can also save money and calories—all of which are precious and should not be wasted.
• Button up that sweater, and check out your frozen food aisle. Frozen foods may play a big role in your diet this year to enable you to stock up on sale items and save you from frequent visits to the supermarket. In some cases, particularly when it comes to fruits and veggies, frozen options can even bring higher nutrient rewards than their fresh counterparts.
Many frozen dinners are also portion-controlled to help keep an eye on calories, but save some some time to read food labels here. Beware of hidden fat, sodium, and sugars where you may not suspect them to lurk.
• Skipping breakfast is not an option. You may not think breakfast is truly the "most important meal of the day," but if you leave your house without having something to eat, I'd bet your mood and your mouth will notice its absence. Today's healthy breakfast options are as simple as a Greek yogurt, a nut butter on whole-grain bread, or the right type of energy bar and make it hard to come up with an excuse for missing a grab-and-go boost.
• Emphasize the positive. Instead of focusing on the doom-and-gloom reports about all the foods and ingredients we should avoid, consumers want to expand upon those that we should be eating more of— nutrients that help, not harm. "Eat more veggies," "find fruit," and "prioritize plant proteins" are messages we can swallow more easily than those that tell us about what not to buy.
• Set an example when you set the table for your family. I'll be honest and say that I haven't seen a trend in families eating together, but this activity is on my wish list for the coming year.
Countless studies have found that families that eat together eat better and share more than a meal; they share conversations and their lives. Parents showcasing good eating habits to their children have a tremendous impact on what kids will eat and what they may serve to their own children some day.
So if you're a trend junkie too, here's a link that'll help you get your fill of what's literally, in store, for 2013.
Which trends do you think will come to fruition, and which do you think will have faded before summer arrives? Let's watch the year unfold together, and I'll keep you posted if any earth-shattering news crosses my desk. In the meantime, I'd put my money on the trend that shines a light on portion sizes. By following this one, aside from weight, you've got nothing to lose!
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Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, has been owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC, for more than three decades and she is the author of Read It Before You Eat It. As a renowned motivational speaker, author, media personality, and award-winning dietitian, Taub-Dix has found a way to communicate how to make sense of science. Her website is BetterThanDieting.com.