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This year our idea of ‘good health’ has shifted dramatically from weight-loss to balanced mental wellbeing and a robust immune system, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Here are the food goals you should be aiming for in 2021

By Michele Chevalley Hedge Body & Soul Jan 2021

“Use food for your mental and physical wellbeing in 2021.” Let this be this year’s trending mantra. COVID has forged innovation and transformation including eating habits, food shopping, food prep, consumption and even family dinners. Eating and drinking will be more nourishing and nutrient dense, as we move towards new levels of understanding and research how diets affect our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

1.Eat your greens
The plant-based boom will continue and cauliflower pizza will be as popular as Meghan Markle. Whether it be plant based meat, seafood, dairy or eggs this movement is stemming from emerging research on a plant-based diet lowering inflammation, which is a key predator in depression and immune function. There will be less focus on vegetarians and more focus on flexitarian and a holistic balance on plant-based food. Choose vegetables for 30-50 % of meal.

2.Food for your mood (and mind)

There are 12 nutrients which relate to the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders: Folate, iron, EPA, DHA, magnesium, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A, B6, B12, C, and zinc. Consciously think about incorporating these foods into your daily or weekly meal: oysters and mussels, various seafoods, and organ meats, leafy greens, lettuces, capsicums, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale.

  1. Take a “biotic” food every day

We are all aware of pre and probiotics for optimal gut heath and now there is a new sheriff in town – the postbiotic. All three of these ‘biotics’ not only play into our immune system but our ‘gut – brain’ mental wellbeing connection too. This new player is an end product of the fermentation process and its benefit is that it doesn’t need to be alive. Sourdough bread will reap the benefits of postbiotics and perhaps is one of the reasons why IBS and FODMAP suffers feel better eating this bread.

  1. Boost your immune system

COVID prevention will strengthen the need for rigorous research on vitamins and nutrients. According to Harvard University, currently leading the research is zinc, Vitamin C and the ‘most promising’ Vitamin D. Whilst supplement sales will increase, so will foods which are abundant in these nutrients. Along with sunlight being worshiped for Vitamin D, so will mushrooms, salmon and egg yolks. Push over your chips and get infatuated with ‘shroom snacking.

  1. Add some spice

As we move towards health-conscious eating, we will consume more whole food that is unpacked and unprocessed. This begins to shrink our shopping cart and could impact your variety of taste. A way to overcome this and make your taste buds happy is the use of spices and sauces. Not only can they be antioxidant rich, full of photochemical and micronutrients, they can turn healthy ‘good for us’, possibly boring food into tasty delights. Think colour, flavour, fragrance without adding additives, preservatives, sugar or excess salt. Jalapeno jam, Nutty pesto, spicy mayonnaise, wasabi horseradish mustards, turmeric salad dressings, and chilli-everything will become the new ‘salt and pepper’ replacement.

  1. Drink less alcohol

Drinking with a consciousness is an admirable goal. Let’s opt for a healthy lifestyle but not compromise on socialising, especially as we come out of COVID restrictions. When considering what to drink people are looking for low sugar, low preservatives, sulphites, and minimal innervation. With this in mind, hard seltzers and hard kombuchas will continue to be popular due to their fruit taste and none of the bloat and bitterness of beer. Natural wines meet the needs of many with low sulphur, low chemicals, and often sustainable farming practices. Tick, tick, tick.

  1. All hail honey

Make this sweet amber one of your nutritional and physical goals for this year. Honey contains lots of micronutrients, amino acids, phenol antioxidants but there is more to honey – it is being used as a therapeutic and beauty agent due to its anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral research. From sore throats, dry eyes, and blepharitis, to adding a bit of joy to one’s tea, we should all hail the honey.

Nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge, is the Sydney-based author of Eat, Drink and Still Shrinks… a joyful guide to living.

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