The commercials for weight loss programs have already begun. Chances are January will bring even more as consumers resolve to improve their health and drop pounds in the year ahead.
Today's Dietitian, an professional journal, surveyed 500 registered dietitians to determine what's hot and what's not when it comes to diet. What emerged was a list of trends that may influence what you buy and eat in 2014.
According to the consensus, the trend away from bread – specifically wheat – should get stronger in the coming year. The Paleo diet and gluten-free food products will continue to command attention from consumers, even though it's been shown that avoiding gluten has almost no health benefits except for people with disorders making them sensitive to the substance.
"Despite the lack of evidence to support wheat- or gluten-elimination diets for weight loss or health – not associated with a clinical disorder or disease – consumers are still looking for ways to control their weight," said Jenna A. Bell, Senior Vice President and Director of Food & Wellness at Pollock Communications, which conducted the survey.
Just over half of the dietitians in the survey agreed that the Paleo diet, gluten-free or "wheat belly" would top the list of most popular diet fads for 2014. The Paleo diet, also known as the “caveman diet,” consists mostly of fish, free-range meats, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Paleo dieters avoid processed oils, refined sugars, grains, refined salt and potatoes.
Not all grains are bad, apparently. The dietitians in the survey cited “ancient grains” as another top diet trend for 2014. Consumers are increasingly buying bread made with quinoa, amaranth, spelt and Kamut, which are considered ancient grains.
These grains are valued for their whole grains, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, and they're supposedly safe for people with wheat allergies or celiac disease, a gluten intolerance.
When it comes to vegetables, kale is quickly rising up the diet hit parade. A green leafy vegetable, kale provides high levels of beta carotene, vitamins K and C and is rich in calcium. In the American south Kale is often served braised, either by itself or mixed with other greens such as collard, mustard or turnip.
When it comes to ingredients, 37% of dietitians in the survey report that coconut oil is all the rage, followed by omega-3 and ALA-rich chia seeds. Chia sees are said to help reduce food cravings, making it easier for you to stay on a diet.
What food fads are losing favor? The dietitians in the survey predict “low fat” will fall flat in 2014. The demand for foods low in carbs is likely to remain strong, they say, but there is less demand for low-fat products. In fact, the dietitians predict that the-low fat diet will be the least talked about plan for 2014.
Too much bad information
A negative trend, according to the dietitians, is a growing amount of nutritional information in the public sphere that is simply wrong. The dietitians report that most consumers base their nutritional information on personal beliefs and half-truths rather than published peer-reviewed research. And, 75% of those in the survey say that there will still be a lot of misinformation to digest in 2014.
Where do you get good nutritional information? Overwhelmingly the nutrition pros recommend MyPlate, the replacement for the government's food pyramid. MyPlate is part of a larger communication initiative based on 2010 dietary guidelines to help consumers make better food choices.