So it's probably safe to say that everyone is ready to start the new year on a more positive note and if you haven't already started to look after your own health and wellbeing, now is a good time to start. Let's explore my health, wellness and food predictions for 2021....
FOOD FOR MOOD
"Anxiety is the most common mental health condition is Australia" - Beyond Blue. The Black Dog Institute reported that populations most at risk for worsening of mental health disorders over this past year included those with a pre-existing mental health condition, front line workers, people who were forced to quarantine or self-isolate and those with job insecurity or loss of job or financial distress.
Do you find yourself reaching for sweets, chips or pasta when you're feeling down? Or maybe you think the giant glass of wine at the end of the day is going to solve or your problems? The link between what we eat and drink and how we feel is coming to the forefront. This by no means a new discovery however, I find more and more people are beginning a make the connection between what they consume and how they feel. Acknowledging, how that nutrient deficit, fast food and too much grog makes them feel as opposed to a seasonal fresh, organic produce and water which is nutrient dense and oh so yummy! Part of being a nutritionist is educating people to recognise what their cravings actually mean and putting measures in place to make sure there is always a healthy snack or meal ready to go. The gut-brain axis is a two-way communication system. To fuel good thoughts and positive energy we need to consume quality proteins, fresh vegetables, wholegrains and gut friendly fermented products to keep those messengers happy! This is an area that I am super passionate about so watch this space....
SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES
From last years "black summer" followed by a pandemic and lock-downs, communities have bonded together to support one-another. Shopping locally and buying take-away meals has helped small businesses stay afloat, while donations and time from individuals and non-for profit organisations have been an absolute saviour for others. Community gardens, food swaps and co-ops are becoming more popular and I believe the community spirit will continue to grow stronger!
PATCH TO PLATE & HOME GARDENING
Being in lock-down has had some advantages. With more time to spare people turned to their non-existent or overgrown gardens into veggie and herb patches. Taking pride in watching their seedlings grow, increasing appreciation of where their food comes from. This has also increased awareness of seasonal eating. I absolutely love menus that change with the season. I often wonder when you see winter veg featured on a menu in summer where its come from? How old is it? where was it stored? All produce taste better when IN season, not to mention
the other benefits that go with it which you can check out on my blog.
REDUCING FOOD WASTE
Around 40% of the waste in household red bins is made up of food scraps which is sent to landfill where it releases harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Wollongong city council has (finally) rolled out FOGO which stands for Foods Organics and Greens Organics, which aims to recover & reuse household scraps, preventing ~150kg per household ending up in landfill. For more info on FOGO Click here
While plenty of other organisations work towards reducing food waste, locally run Hidden Harvest is a volunteer run organisation founded in 2015 by Berbel France which combats climate change through food behaviour, education, workshops, dinners and catering events using rescued food. Together they are striving to halve the amount of food waste by 2030 as part of United Nations sustainable development goals. Before covid, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend one of their three-course dinners created using almost 100% salvaged food by their volunteers which showcase the potential these "out of date" ingredients still hold. The dinner had an intimate community feel and the food was super yummy and nutritious. This February they will be hosting the Art of Food Waste which you can check out here.
PERSONALISED HEALTH MONITORING
Every year technology becomes increasingly advanced. Personalised health monitoring using basic apps to professional programs comes in a variety of forms including watches, rings, phones, bio-impedance machines and other devices that track everything from body composition, heart rate, pulse, steps, sleep quality and blood sugar levels. Now more than ever people are becoming health conscious, and with the new year often brings new health and fitness goals with technology helping people to stay on track to hit their daily targets.
ADAPTOGENS & SELF CARE
Medicinal mushrooms, ashwaganda, ginseng, licorice, holy basil and maca root. These are just some #adaptogens or plant based foods which help resilience against stress. People are starting to look for coffee alternatives (think shrew brew and match lattes). People are learning how certain foods can help build resilience to stress reaching for a home made protein snack instead of that store bought sugar laden cookie thats going to spike your insulin and cortisol through the roof and contribute more to feeling of anxiety. People are also learning how to slow-down. Whether this was forced on them during lock-down or from breaking point, taking time out to do the things you enjoy can make a world of good. Stress is huge factor contributing to major diseases and illness including cardiovascular disease, cancers and of course mental health. So if you're reading this now take three long deep breaths and continue :)
KELP & SEAWEED
Seaweed is most notably known as an excellent source of iodine but it actually one of the most nutrient dense foods on earth. South Coast businesses like Sea Health Products have developed a sustainable range of #goldenkelp products that can be added to food for a tasty nutritional boost or used as part of their beauty range. Phyco Health is another local small business out of Huskinsson, that is big on the science and research of their products which deliver a range of health benefits which you can check out here. In short, seaweed is rich source of protein containing all essential amino acids, #vegan omega-3, minerals including iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium and boron as well as fibre. Incorporating #seaweed into corn chips. muesli, dhukka, crackers and seasoning salts and macadamias (which I couldn't stop myself eating!) and finally fibres and supplements designed for gut and skin health.
FERMENTATION & GUT HEALTH
According to a poll by the Australian National University alcohol consumption during Covid-19 increased by 1-4 drinks per week for 1 in 5 people. Most people who drank more because they spent more time at home, for women this was also due to stress and for men, boredom. This year it seems as though many people are now limiting the amount of drinks they have per week, the percentage of alcohol or giving up booze completely. Some of the more health conscious are switching wine for kombucha (fermented tea) and taking more notice of how their gut health impacts them.
For those of us in the health industry, gut health has always been crucial and now the consumers are driving the market. Every time I visit the shops or markets there seems to be a new range of cultured nut butters, kefir, kombucha, butters, kim chi's and sauerkraut filled with natural probiotics to help keep our gut health in check.