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The Best (and Worst) Eating Trends of 2016

Every year has them: Food fads and trends that emerge (or re-emerge) into our social feeds, conversations with loved ones or friends or on the menu at our favorite diner or restaurant.

As a food and nutrition professional, I love food trends. They get me excited about eating and become great conversations with clients looking for help to navigate through them.

At our corporate office, we have a team of registered dietitians and nutrition professionals that help run our weight loss and nutrition programs, write content and virtually coach our members, so these types of conversations take place all the time. 

People want to know if any new food trend is worth their exploration or if it’s something they should avoid. 

And we get it – it’s confusing out there. There is more information than ever before, right at our finger tips around food and healthy eating. But there is also a lot of misinformation out there – bloggers and food manufacturers with no nutrition background boasting about their healthy recipes and food products.

2016 was a big year for food trends. As usual, there were some good ones and some not-so-good ones. Below are the top culprits that our team fielded questions or talked about over the past year. 



Cauliflower Everything

This cruciferous vegetable has made a major comeback. What’s great about cauliflower is every serving provides ample fiber along with vitamins and minerals, plus it is an awesome substitute (that actually tastes good) for starchier carbohydrates. Cauliflower pizza crusts, mashed “faux”-tatoes and rice recipes were all over social media feeds this year as awesome “low carb” substitutes (similar to the spiralized veggie trend). Grocery stores are even picking up on this trend by offering convenience foods such as cauliflower tater tots and such. Check out some of our staff’s favorite related recipes, including cauliflower fried rice and garlic mashed “faux”-tatoes. 


Nut-Based Products

If you didn’t know, fats are back in style (thank goodness). With that came a lot of nut and healthy fat based products, expanding the nut butter and dairy alternative aisles. No longer do we only have soy or almond milk to choose from, but also cashew, hazelnut, coconut and like blends for different milk, yoghurt, ice cream and coffee creamer options. The nut butter aisle also has evolved past just your classic peanut butter. Nowadays you can reach for sunbutter, hazelnut, cashew and other nut type butters to fit any preference and support the idea of varying the nuts and seeds in your diet. Because of this trend, you no longer have to search out boutique type markets and grocers that only carry healthy options – you can find them at most commercial stores.


Clean Eating

For almost a decade, Life Time has embarked on our Good Food Rules nutrition philosophy, meaning no artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives or flavors are in the products and menu items we serve in our LifeCafes. We also don’t allow other things such as trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and added hormones and antibiotics. This year, it seemed like the rest of the world started to catch up. Many food brands started to market their products being clean of anything artificial and many new restaurants started popping up promising their clean menus.  With this trend, elimination diets also started to pick up as a strategy for people looking to lose weight or clean up their eating while helping them focus on taking out foods that are likely to cause problems with their metabolism and health.


Fermented Foods

Gut health is kind of a big deal. For year, our in-club nutrition coaches and registered dietitians have encouraged their clients on nutritional strategies and programs that support gut healing. If your gut is out of sync, it’s really hard to lose weight or be healthy. Foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and other fermented foods were easily found in the grocery store. We even published our own kombucha recipe due to the high demand from our members and clientele.  This trend is sure to stick around with all of the gut research continuing to come out, indicating that more nutrition advice and programs should include healthy gut protocol and foods. 



Smoothie Bowls

Move over morning protein shake, here comes the much prettier, and edible with a spoon, smoothie bowl. Although the possibilities of toppings were endless and beautiful to see in social media feeds, they also came packed with too much sugar and added calories to start your day off in the healthiest way possible. If this was a trend you were attracted to, try making your own version with a better nutrition profile, including balancing out enough protein and fat with those pretty carbohydrates. Check out our recipe as a go-to breakfast option.



Juice bars, liquid cleanses – this trend needs to go away. Not only is it expensive, but most often these products and programs do little to improve your health and often do the opposite of what they promise. One common conversation I have with clients trying to “detox” with this method is around the lack of protein these options provide, which limits your body’s ability to detox in the first place. For the right way to detox, check out our free online program here or consider a different strategy that is more health promoting.


Elevated Toast

This was a big one – avocado toast, sweet potato toast, etc. Some hip cities even had “toast” restaurants and food trucks pop up boasting about this new food trend. Don’t get me wrong, I love avocado and sweet potato, but these carb-dense ways to start breakfast aren’t ideal for most people on a weight loss journey. If you are a bread lover, try to eat it less often and always alongside a fat and protein rich food, such as scrambled eggs. Most of the people I’ve engaged with that caught on to this trend had a hard time not eating it every morning. The best nutritional strategies don’t increase cravings or hamper your energy, which is why we put this one on our NO list.


This ever-evolving category tends to increase every year. Not only are potatoes and milk marketing “gluten-free” on packaging, (they’ve always been gluten free) but hundreds of thousands of people are going gluten-free” because they think it’s healthier for your diet. For some people, (like myself) this is definitely the case in which I would recommend removing gluten from their diet to see how they feel and function.  But, I often recommend eating naturally gluten-free foods (lean meats, nuts and seeds, vegetables, etc) first before opting to consume processed foods that are marketed asgluten-free (such as gluten free breads, cookies, etc). If you are considering going gluten-free, check out our article on how to go gluten-free the right way.


Hope you enjoyed reading!  If you have any questions on food fads or trends worth the exploration, email to get connected with a coach.


In health, Anika Christ – Senior Program Manager – Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader

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