Sunday, January 6, 2013

Top Health and Fitness Trends For 2013...

With the New Year typically comes the air of a fresh start. From a health and fitness point of view what are your expectations for the year ahead?  Think about that for a moment and then read what the experts see on the horizon. Do their trends match up with yours?  If not do you think your ideas might change after hearing what is expected from the majority of Americans?

The Values Institute at DGWB, a social science research entity based in Santa Ana, Calif., used observational studies to identify the top health and wellness trends that Americans are most likely to embrace in 2013.

The top five-consumer health trends for 2013 will be: [1]

1. Food Waste Consciousness. Waste not; want not, especially in the kitchen. A recent Eco Pulse survey found that 39 percent of Americans feel guilty about trashing food, more so than any other “green” sin.  In the spring and summer using food scraps for compost is an excellent strategy and can give your garden a real boost.  However, when it comes to attempting to extend the life of your food be careful.  The limit is usually three days for cooked food any longer than that and you are asking for trouble.  Another great strategy for wasting less food is using more of it.  Instead of going for the “prime” parts use the whole.  For example roast a whole chicken instead of just buying breasts and use the stem of broccoli by peeling then grating it to make slaw.

2. Wellness in the Workplace. Employers are realizing that working health into the corporate agenda benefits waistlines and bottom lines. With healthcare costs expected to rise by 7 percent, companies are improving employees’ health (and minimizing healthcare expenditures) by adding wellness programs. The National Business Group on Health found that 48 percent of companies’ surveyed plan to use incentives to get workers involved in wellness in 2013.

3. Mini-meals and Snacking. As the snacking trend continues, new research shows that those who eat between meals tend to have healthier diets. reports that snacks make up one out of every five eating occasions in the U.S. Especially prevalent is the advent of multiple “mini-meals” in place of the standard three squares a day.   Best to avoid this trend if possible.  Shoot for at minimum one sit down, home cooked meal a day with your family (better nutrition and you get a chance to find out what’s going on in each others lives).

4. Meatless Mainstreaming: Veganism is OK. No longer reserved for the hip in Hollywood, going vegan is being embraced as a viable health alternative. Even professional athletes like Venus Williams and Arian Foster, whose bodies are their livelihood, have made the switch.  Eating vegan doesn’t equate to eating healthy.  Potatoes fried in canola oil would be vegan. For ethical reasons I understand the decision to go vegan, but for health reasons you had better do your research and consult a dietitian before taking the leap, nutrient deficiencies are a given without guidance.

5. Going Against the Grain. The past year saw an influx of gluten-free products as everyone and their brother is shunning their Cheerios (for good reason, more next week). Gluten has joined carbohydrates and corn syrup as the newest ingredient Americans love to leave out. While some experts see this as self-diagnosis gone awry, consumers increasingly see the “GF” logo as a guide to healthier eating. From grocery stores to brands like Betty Crocker to Domino’s, the food industry is taking advantage of this new, not-so-niche need.

Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  In fact usually the opposite is true when it comes to health.  A wise old mentor once told me look around the gym and you’ll see everybody doing the same thing, you should do the opposite.

While gluten-free products are on the rise, it’s important to note that these foods are specifically designed for those individuals who suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivities and not for those looking to eat more healthfully or lose weight. The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics indicates that there is no benefit of a gluten-free diet for the average healthy adult. It disputes the perception that going gluten-free is an effective way to lose weight and may in fact lead to weight gain because of extra sugar and fat often added to gluten-free foods to improve taste. [2]

Grains are not “unhealthy!”  As usual the devil is in the details as the quality (whole grains), quantity and preparation (extrusion anyone) of grains are more relevant.  Grains can be an excellent source of nutrition and should not be neglected due to shifts in popular media.

Top 10 Restaurant Trends for 2013

There is some overlap with the trends mentioned above but I wanted to cherry pick a few to appeal to my audience.  You can access the complete list in the resource section below. [3]

Healthy kids’ meals

Healthful and creative kids’ meals will continue to make an impression on the quick-service industry.

The industry “wrote the book” on understanding kids and kids’ meals, says Sharon Olson, executive director of the Culinary Visions panel, which surveyed 3,000 consumers and interviewed dozens of food experts to decide top trends. “They are leaders in knowing what appeals to kids and their parents.”

As such, operators are now going to great lengths to improve the nutritional profile of kids’ meals. The National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell initiative, which helps eateries spotlight better-for-you menu choices for children, has grown in 18 months to encompass 130 restaurant brands representing 30,000 locations nationwide.

Restaurants will look to improve the health quality of kids’ meals by taking steps like grilling instead of frying, cutting calories and fat.

These efforts aren’t just satisfying parents; kids are also becoming more comfortable with healthier foods. Look for items such a sweet potato fries, hummus and yogurt.

This is a step in the right direction and again shows the power the consumer has by voting with their pocketbook as this always grabs the attention of the food business.  That said these restaurants are businesses first and foremost so while the choices may be better (mass and nutrition usually have an inverse relationship) they are far from ideal.  But in a pinch it’s good to know that you have decent options to resort to.

More fruits and veggies

Quick-service restaurants have never been short on a few select vegetable and fruit offerings—apple slices for French fries; tomatoes, lettuce, and onions on burgers; and various items in salads—but customers will expect more fruit and vegetable variety on menus, the experts say.

“We’re seeing all kind of vegetables,” Olson says. For example, lettuce will no longer be confined to iceberg; romaine, field greens, and spinach are increasingly being used. Kale, a so-called super food, is also becoming more popular as a healthful option at some fast-casual restaurants and on college campuses.

The trend is also helping make kids’ meals healthier, Olson says. “School foodservice operators are turning vegetables into super heroes with kid-appealing names like Power Punch Broccoli and X-Ray Vision Carrots,” she says.

The food business is not just being driven purely by consumer demand; these operators are also being squeezed by rising costs for proteins.  Thus necessitating the need for more creative and lower cost options.  Quinoa anyone?

Fitness Trends

Youth Fitness & Sports Performance Will Continue to Boom

Parents are spending billions (with a B) on travel sports; billions on private instruction for their kids and the numbers are only going to keep climbing. This tells me the competition on the field of play will be more intense than ever.  It also means the rise of youth sport injuries will continue to trend upward. What this means to me is there will be an increased requirement for programs that address the overall athletic development of children.   This is essential to counteract the demands of sport specialization and the lack of free play.

There Will Be A Wave Of New Competition

In 2013 you'll see more franchise systems being sold to non-fitness pros as business opportunities and you'll see more medical professionals start adding fitness as a profit center to offset the diminishing revenue they're generating from insurance.  Access to a gym is no longer a barrier for most people with many franchises offering $10 monthly memberships.  Despite this access our nation is as out of shape as it has ever been.  Seek quality, as personal training is no longer just for the elite.  Just as you visit the dentist every 6 months to make sure your teeth don’t fall out you should have a bi-annual fitness check-up to ensure your knees or back don’t give out.  I have a strong sense that this will be a hot trend in 2013. And just as carefully as you would choose a dentist the search for the right fitness professional should be as thorough. There will be no shortage of opportunities for those motivated to take control of their own physical fitness, but you must choose wisely.

Final Thought

“Our 2013 findings are consistent with the growing importance of health in America — if not yet as a daily routine then certainly as a primary goal for three out of four consumers,” said Mike Weisman, president of the Values Institute at DGWB. “More than ever, health is the new prestige barometer — meaning that most Americans would rather be called healthy than wealthy. “

I could not agree with the above statement more, the greatest gift you can give yourself this year is something I call "deep health.”

Deep health doesn't come from a pill or an operation.

It comes from a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods.

It comes from sufficient exercise combined with genuine rest.

It comes from clean air and clean water.

And it comes from living with purpose and joy.

Make 2013 your best year yet and set your own trends.  If you have your health then you have everything you need to make this your reality.





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