10 Food and Wellness Trends We Think Will Be Big in 2020
With a new year (and decade) on the horizon, here's what our editors see as the biggest trends in food and wellness.
It can be hard to keep track of all that's going on in the food and health world. We see hundreds of new food products and get thousands of emails each year telling us about the latest and greatest in food and wellness. Some trends have serious staying power—looking at you cauliflower and everything bagel seasoning—and some fizzle out before you've even heard of them. I did some digging into trend research and chatted with EatingWell's editor-in-chief, Jessie Price, to bring you 10 big food and wellness trends we think are going to be hot in 2020.
1. Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating has really been picking up steam, and we are on board. It's a way of eating that's been around since the early '90s (started by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch), but it's really starting to take off. People are fed up with diets, there's a growing body positivity movement and it's just a really enjoyable way to eat and live your life. If you've never heard of intuitive eating, learn all about the 10 principles and how to get started. The gist is that you don't diet, you don't label foods as "good" and "bad" and you give yourself permission to eat what you want. "There are too many diets out there that are about unrealistic restriction, skipping food groups, omitting this, counting that," says Price. "They're simply too hard to stick to for the long run. This is a trend that we love because it's the anti-diet approach to eating smart. It's not so much a diet as it is a way to eat for life. It's really about balance, eating the things you love and trusting yourself to know how much is enough."
"Regulations around growing hemp were changed as part of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, and that has led to a gold rush among farmers jumping into the hemp growing business across the country. And the categories and number of products that CBD is being added to is absolutely astonishing," Price says. CBD (cannabidiol) is a nonpsychoactive chemical compound found in hemp that's been marketed as a cure-all for various conditions. Although hemp is related to marijuana, CBD doesn't contain THC, so you won't feel a "high." Although the FDA has issued a warning to consumers, we expect to see even more products with CBD in the coming years.
The problem? The research isn't quite there to back up all the claims. Price adds: "If you believed all the marketing hype, which ranges from better sleep to less aches and pains, then who wouldn't take CBD morning, noon and night? At EatingWell we take a circumspect approach to anything that sounds too good to be true. And when we've dug into the research, we haven't found much that's been proven. Pile on top of that the fact that appropriate dosage and concentration of active ingredients is not regulated or consistently labeled, and we'd say don't waste your money." Read more about what the research on CBD says.
3. Sustainable Seafood
Sustainable eating has always been a core part of EatingWell's values, and that includes seafood. "The seafood we eat has an enormous impact on our health today and the health of our oceans tomorrow," says Price.
Choosing sustainable seafood is trendier than ever—which is good, since it's important: Ocean temperatures are warming, which means that the same species we all know and love might not always be available. More and more chefs are putting sustainable options on their menus, and consumers are more open to trying different types of fish (outside of their typical shrimp and salmon). Download a guide from seafoodwatch.org to help you know which fish are best to choose.
4. Plant-Based Protein
According to Price, "This trend taps into a lot of currents that are hitting the mainstream right now: an interest in the environmental impact of our choices, concern about animal welfare, and the desire to eat healthier. Plus technology around plant-based protein, with Beyond and Impossible leading the way, has leapfrogged in recent years, so the meat substitutes that are available today truly feel, look and taste innovative and revolutionary."
It's not just vegans who are eating more plant-based proteins. Lots of omnivores have come around to the idea of adding more plant proteins to their diets, whether it's beans, tofu or a meat substitute. See our top vegetarian proteins and vegan proteins to add to your diet.
5. Regenerative Agriculture
"We've been watching this trend for a few years now, and we think it's finally going mainstream because big companies like Organic Valley, General Mills and even Patagonia have gotten behind it," says Price. "We're now seeing the term 'regenerative' making its way onto food products and into the lexicon of the good food movement. Using regenerative methods to raise animals has the potential to increase nutrients in the soil, take carbon out of the atmosphere and trap it underground, and reduce nutrient runoff that would otherwise be polluting our waters." See our article This Man Wants You to Eat More Meat to learn more about regenerative agriculture.
Gut health has been trending for a few years, but there's been a lot of focus on probiotics, the good-for-you bugs. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that's also good for your gut. Prebiotics feed the good bugs in your gut and help them multiply and reduce the number of bad bugs. Get your prebiotic fill from Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes), leeks, onions, raspberries and beans (get our full list of top high-fiber foods for your gut). You'll also be seeing prebiotics added to products from drinks to cereals to granola bars.
You may have never heard of adaptogens, but you'll probably hear a lot about them this year. They're a class of herbs that are supposed to help your body respond to stress better and boost your immunity. They include ashwagandha, rhodiola, and mushrooms like cordyceps. Typically, they're sold as powders or added to other foods. We've seen lots of adaptogen powders in smoothies and food bars. The research supports some benefits, but you'll want to talk to your doctor before you add them to your diet. Also, an occasional pinch of something in your smoothie probably won't give you the health boost you're looking for—consistency is key.
8. Grain-Free Foods
At EatingWell, we are always talking about the health benefits of whole grains. They deliver fiber and important nutrients to your diet. Also, there's no need to fear carbs. But many popular diet plans shun grains (think paleo and keto), and food manufacturers have taken note. There are plenty of new grain-free bagels, crackers, granolas, chips and wraps that you'll see at the store. Cassava flour is a popular replacement for your grains, but you'll also see tapioca flour, almond flour, seed flours and more. However, just because they're grain-free doesn't make them healthier. Many of these products don't have fiber, so check the ingredients and Nutrition Facts panel to see what you're getting.
9. Low-Alcohol and Nonalcoholic Drinks
People still want to celebrate, but maybe without the hangover. Whether they're abstaining completely or just looking to stay clear-headed for the night, there's been a bigger interest in low-alcohol and completely alcohol-free beverages. We're seeing craft nonalcoholic beer, cider and spirits as well as creative mocktails on the menu at bars. Thinking of going booze-free? Find out what happens to your body when you quit drinking. Then try out our mocktail recipes if you want to give the no-alcohol trend a try.
Maybe it is time for everything bagel seasoning to step aside. Tajín is a mix of chile powder, dehydrated lime and salt. It's not a new seasoning—it was invented in Mexico in 1985—but it's becoming more and more popular. It jazzes up so many foods: try it on fruit, eggs, vegetables, fish and popcorn. It has a little kick, but it's not super spicy. Trader Joe's also makes a version called Chile Lime seasoning blend. Learn more about Tajín and get ideas for using it.