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2021 Nutrition Trend Forecast: Eating healthy in a post COVID world

As 2020 draws to a close, it’s almost time for the “new year, new me” posts to flood our social feeds once again. But can we still expect the usual gym-going, carb-cutting, diet-inducing resolutions in 2021?

Thanks to COVID, lockdown and spending more time at home, our everyday eating and cooking habits underwent significant changes in 2020 (so much so that we even wrote a whole blog post about it!). Yes, we saw Australians embracing homemade vodka pasta, ticking ‘learn to make sourdough’ off the bucket list and the an immeasurable number of new Insta-chefs, but on top of the trending recipes and content creators, we also saw a shift towards Australians taking their personal wellness and nutrition back into their own hands.

To reflect on the year that was, assess the impact our lockdown nutrition habits may continue to have on our choices in 2021 and discuss how we can tap into these trends to drive campaign outcomes, we sat down with Accredited Nutritionist, Founder of The Right Balance and UNCLE TOBYS Nutrition Ambassador, Kathleen Alleaume.

2020 has impacted Australian’s lives in a myriad of different ways – including their lifestyle, day-to-day routine and eating habits. What do you think that 2020 taught us about nutrition?

Being in lockdown really did reignite our interest in home cooking and dining at home. And, I think this shift in behaviour has had a positive impact on Australians thinking about their health and nutrition as cooking by yourself helps people have more control over the ingredients. It makes people think about the veggies, the proteins, the wholegrains that they are adding to their meals. 

Since many of us are now out of lockdown, I think that trend will continue to carry on. But many of us are hungry for short-cuts and now that we are going out more, looking for ways to get the benefits of home cooking but spend less time on meal prep. I’d expect to see more meal kit deliveries and more one-pot or one-tray ideas on the menu.

Do you think that the lifestyle shifts that we have seen in 2020 will have a lasting impact on our nutrition? Are there any trends that have popped up that you think are here to stay?

Yes, definitely. The shift to cook more at home has correlated with people trying new recipes with new ingredients, such as testing out the popular trend of plant-based diets (or meat-free meals), for example. We’ve seen pantry staples like whole grains (like rolled oats, rice, pasta, barley, quinoa), canned vegetables and legumes grow in demand during the pandemic and now people have a much better idea as to how incorporate these staple ingredients into tasty meals. The idea that this also saves money, creates less food waste and supports local producers is also appealing to many.

People will also still be keen to hear ways to strengthen the immune system – a trend that really took off during COVID for obvious reasons – whether that is via supplements, bio hacks, or just eating gut-healthy whole foods.

On the other hand, what food, nutrition or health fad do you hope gets left in 2020?

Coconut oil. As more people are becoming aware of the benefits of extra virgin olive oil due to research into the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, I hope more Aussies will use EVOO as an all-round cooking oil for frying, sautéing and drizzling.

Looking forward, what do you think are going to be the three top nutrition and health topics that we reading and talking more about in 2021?

  1. Eating for climate change and adopting a more sustainable diet
  2. Further growth in plant-based eating
  3. More at-home dining

I believe we’ll see a more balanced approach to eating with more Aussies looking at how they can adopt ‘flexitarian’ eating habit, where there are no strict rules, and shy away from more ‘hardcore’ diets like paleo or veganism.

Do you have any key tips for those looking to ‘turn over a new leaf’ when it comes to nutrition in the new year?

As I mentioned above, I would recommend aiming to have a more flexible approach to eating. As I’ve always advocated, the best diet is one you can stick to in the long-term. Hopefully, 2021 will not be about “diets” but more about shifting towards better eating habits overall.

You’ve also worked quite extensively with some of Australia’s biggest health and lifestyle publications. In your opinion, what makes a good nutrition story?

Being able to show two sides of the story is really important. We live in an age of ‘influence’ not ‘information’ which can be really destructive for topics like nutrition that do need be the based on research. We need to be careful about everything we read and ensure that the information we digest is backed by solid evidence and isn’t just anecdotal.

Do you have any advice for PRs looking to place a nutrition story?

I think real-life stories and case studies work really well. People like to empathise with people, however these stories need to be backed professional advice.

On top of this, I’d like to see a shift towards people putting nutrition in a more positive light rather than demonising food. Food is more about the ingredients, nutrients and health aspects – it’s about social, family, love and bringing people together.

And, finally, give journo’s options! Work out different headlines and bring back more advisory pieces that end with practical how-to’s, such as live recipes and edutaining bite-sized tips.

At FORWARD, we have a long history of working with nutrition experts to provide credible authority and expertise to our client campaigns including Uncle Tobys and SunRice. If you would like support in developing nutrition messages and campaigns for your business, please get in touch!