Dana Hawthorne, MScFN, RD
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
With the start of the New Year, we can expect to see new trends in food and nutrition throughout 2017.
Trend 1: Plant-Based Proteins:
Plant-based proteins are foods that are rich in protein and come from a plant source. These foods are also called “meat alternatives” and include soy and soy products, nuts, seeds and legumes. Grains, like quinoa, are also a plant protein. Proteins are part of every cell in our bodies, and we need protein to build and repair our muscles and tissues, and to build hormones and enzymes. People following a vegetarian diet avoid most animal products, while people who are vegan avoid all animal products. This means a vegan does not eat any meat, poultry, fish, dairy or eggs.
Vegetarian and vegan styles of eating have become more common in the last few years. This may be due to concerns for animal welfare and more awareness about nutrition and health. As well, omnivores, or people who eat both meat-based and plant-based foods, are including more meat alternatives in their diets on a regular basis. When it comes to meat and meat alternatives, choose the eating pattern that’s right for you and your family. If you do eat meats, choose lean options and include meat alternatives often. Look for meats with little or no thick white fat or marbling, take the skin off poultry, and limit deli meats, hot dogs and sausages. If you follow a vegan or vegetarian eating pattern, make sure to include a variety of meat alternatives every day.
Trend 2: Reducing Food Waste
Food waste occurs when food that is safe and nutritious for us to eat is thrown out. Food can be wasted at any point in the supply chain, from producers to consumers. Worldwide, it’s estimated that 1/3 of all food produced is wasted. With increasing concerns over the environment and the planet’s ability to feed growing populations, reducing food waste will be a priority for many. Some examples of how the food industry, grocery stores and restaurants across Ontario are cutting down on food waste are: donating extra and leftover food to food charities, composting the food waste that is unavoidable, like trimmings and peels, and by figuring out ways to be more efficient in food production so that fewer ingredients are lost.
To cut down food waste at home, try to plan your meals ahead of time and then buy only what you need for those meals. Check the “best before” and expiry dates when you’re grocery shopping, and avoid buying foods that will expire soon. As soon as you get home, put perishable foods in the refrigerator or freezer. Stock all unopened and non-perishable products in a clean, dry spot at room temperature and rotate products by using the “first in first out rule”. Also, get creative with leftovers to help reduce food waste. A tip for vegetables that are “on their last legs” is to store them in a container in the freezer and then use them to make a homemade broth later.
For more information, visit our website at www.healthunit.org, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, or call the Health Action Lines at 1-800-660-5853.
More on food trends in 2017 next week.