This time of year, every weight-loss technique strives to get the most attention. When all the advice is coming from experts, it’s hard to reconcile the information and make sense of it for yourself.
To survey the best and worst health trends of 2014, I caught up with Dr. Sarfraz Zaidi, author of eight popular wellness books; and Megan Ware, registered dietician, nutritionist, speaker, and owner of Nutrition Awareness in Texas. Together, we explored “the good, the bad, and the fad” of 2014’s health and wellness trends.
Death to the Diet
The fad diet craze has had its turn, and it’s time for wisdom to reign. “In 2014 … I noticed more clients telling me upfront that they wanted to make a lifestyle change and focus on getting healthier instead of just losing a few pounds as quick as possible,” Ware says. “Many people now are realizing that there is no magic pill or combination of certain foods that miraculously makes them lose weight.”
Conventional medicine will always be a mainstay, thank goodness, but natural alternatives are all the rage. “People are … turning to natural treatments in the form of foods, vitamins and herbs,” says Dr. Zaidi. It was good to see medical doctors embracing these unorthodox methods in 2014, combining the goodness of nature with standard prescriptions.
Beyond Clean Eating
“Organic” isn’t just a buzz word anymore—it’s here to stay. Consumers have largely moved on to what kind of organic foods are best, according to Dr. Zaidi. “Eggs and nuts are in, cereals and sodas are out. Fresh organic food is in, processed canned food is out.”
In 2014, explains Dr. Zaidi, “Vitamin D continued to be one of the leading health interests. More and more people are realizing the incredible health benefits of vitamin D, which actually is a hormone and affects every organ in our body.” If that weren’t enough, Dr. Zaidi discussed the proactive strength this element offers: “Vitamin D may be significant in the prevention as well as treatment of various cancers.”
A “cleanse” sounds great, giving the illusion you’re flushing the bad by cutting entire food groups. “I always tell my clients that if you don’t want to do it forever then you should never start,” Ware says. “For example, with the popular juicing detoxes, if you don’t want to have juice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of your life, then why are you attempting that now? Why go through the headaches, crankiness, and hunger just to go right back to your old habits and routine a week later?”
When we realized what excess sugar does, the labs got busy creating the next big thing, namely artificial sweeteners. Although many chemical sweeteners have proven to be carcinogenic, some have made the cut, staying strong through 2014. My advice? Use local, raw honey or organic applesauce to sweeten your dishes.
Some health and wellness trends expanded from our kitchens into our bedrooms, cars, and even our bathrooms. I’m referring, of course, to the rise in popularity of the primordial habits called “Paleolithic,” or “Stone Age diet.” The concept is based on hunting and gathering, and focuses on foods we can forage, rather than cultivate or raise. So legumes are out, and so is dairy, as it’s thought that our modern metabolisms haven’t caught up to our ability to farm these items. Different versions of this caveman lifestyle exist, and there are some great upsides. Particularly the focus on clean chemical-free foods and limited “screen time” can prove to be beneficial long term, if the craze continues.
“Locavore” is a term to describe someone who buys goods from local producers as opposed to big-chain stores where goods are processed for mass consumption. In the last ten years, the number of farmers markets have quadrupled in America, giving some indication of just how hot this trend is. That “hotness” is what earns it a place in our “Fad” list, but hopefully this trend will turn into an undeviating structure in the health and wellness community.
Every New Year, I’m tempted to join the crowds in making huge changes to my diet and exercise regimen. But you and I know better. Daily choices influence our lives for the better far more than fad diets or overindulged commitments made this time of year. Ware reminds us to cut the bad slowly, and integrate good choices one step at a time.
For example, “add a healthy juice to your daily breakfast or lunch in order to get more produce in your day, which is something you could continue to incorporate throughout the year.”
What did you learn in 2014? Tell us below!
Image source: Bethany Johnson