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6 Diabetes-Friendly Food and Nutrition Trends for 2019

Some good news for the new year: delicious, nutritious foods in fun, new flavors will be even easier to enjoy in 2019 as the trend goes mainstream!

cauliflower pizza on wooden cutting boardPlant-based versions of crowd-pleasers like pizza will continue to make a splash in 2019. Topping the healthy-food chart—cauliflower pizza crust. (Photo:123rf)

While many diet fads and specialty food products are nothing more than passing trends or gimmicks that people with diabetes should probably just ignore, some products, eating styles and new ways of looking at food are worth your attention and may be worth incorporating into your day-to-day life.

Take a look at these new foods and flavors arriving for 2019, along with healthy trends that are building momentum and set to become bigger news in the months to come.

#1. Macro Diets

Not to be confused with macrobiotic diets, macro diets focus on the three macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrate. What does that mean? Although a macro diet may be used for weight control, the focus is on balanced meals and healthy eating. Macro diets are planned with total calorie counts in mind but with just as much attention paid to the quality and amount of carbs, protein, and fat on your plate. In a macro diet, carbohydrates are low on the glycemic index (which means they’re less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar), proteins are lean and often plant-based, and fat comes from healthful sources.

This actually means that the classic diabetic diet has gone mainstream! Other eaters are finally catching up with the fact that everyone who wants to stay as healthy as possible should try to eat the way someone with diabetes must eat. Those who follow a macro diet want to eat regular, balanced, high-fiber meals to keep their blood sugar stable, provide them with a steady flow of energy, and put a clamp on overeating. Sound familiar?

The macro diet trend means that people are less interested in foods that are promoted for weight loss and more interested in foods that will keep them healthy and help them live longer. It’s all about balance, wellness and high-quality foods that provide long-lasting energy and essential nutrients, although weight loss and weight maintenance may be a secondary goal.

#2. Plant-Based Convenience Foods

Vegetarians, vegans, and flexitarians (semi-vegetarians) are on the rise and food manufacturers are following the call to produce more flavorful and interesting ways than ever before to help you limit animal products and fill up on veggies.

Think vegan jerky and pre-seasoned, high-protein meat and seafood alternatives, such as Loma Linda’s plant-based canned fishless tuna and meatless taco filling. From CauliPower’s cauliflower-based pizza crusts and College Inn’s vegan mushroom-based broth to Barney Butter Chocolate Almond Butter Blend and Cado’s avocado-based frozen non-dairy desserts, more and more vegetarian, vegan, and other products that were once confined to health foods stores are appearing on the shelves and in the refrigerator/freezer cases of regular supermarkets, hypermarkets, and even pharmacy chains.

#3. Gut-Healthy and Anti-Inflammatory Fare

Probiotics, the “good bacteria” that help keep your digestive system healthy, are finding their way into more and more commercially prepared foods and beverages. Expect to see new product lines, like probiotic waters, new brands like Uncle Matt’s line of small-batch Kombucha (fermented tea) beverages, and new flavors from established brands, such as Chocolate & Vanilla Swirl frozen Greek yogurt bars from Yasso, along with old familiar foods with a first-time probiotic boost, like thinkThin’s Protein & Probiotics hot oatmeal cups. Typical dairy sources of probiotics will be expanding from traditional products, like yogurt, kefir and cottage cheese, to probiotic milk and even probiotic bread. When you purchase probiotic food products, check the label to be sure they contain live probiotic cultures.

If you’re looking for foods with anti-inflammatory properties, look for more products with ginger and/or turmeric on the ingredient list. Both of these spices are known for their potential anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. In fact, just about every company that packages herbal tea now offers a ginger-turmeric blend. Look for fun products like Cultured Love’s pickle-flavored Dillyicious sauerkraut, which contains turmeric, but limit or avoid products like ginger-flavored candies, cookies, syrups, and sodas, that are just as high in sugar as any other sugar-sweetened products.

#4. Less Sugar

In keeping with the macro diet trend toward high-fiber, low-glycemic carbohydrates and carb-controlled meals, more reduced-sugar products are showing up in grocery stores. Following the lead of Chobani and other producers of low-sugar, flavored yogurts, food manufacturers are starting to produce more convenience foods that don’t rely on artificial sweeteners but instead cut back on the amount of added sugar in their products. That includes more naturally low- and reduced-sugar products packaged to attract children.

The Dietary Guidelines for all Americans recommend a maximum daily added sugar limit of less than 10% of total calories. That means fewer than 200 calories from added sugars in a 2,000-calorie diet, which works out to about 48 grams. To put that in perspective, Chobani’s low-sugar yogurts contain approximately 9 g of sugar compared to traditional sugar-sweetened yogurts that contain 13 - 17 g or more.

#5. On-Line Food Ordering

While more and more specialty foods are hitting mainstream markets nationwide, some products you might want to try are only distributed in regional markets, or most easily available through online stores that carry health foods and international specialty items. If you can’t find a specific product or something similar in your local market, search by company or brand name. For instance, you may find Sea Tangle Noodle Company’s super low-cal, low-carb, high fiber, and crunchy-fun-to-eat kelp noodles in the supermarket section of hypermarkets like Walmart, but put out a search and you’ll find they can also be ordered from online health food and supplement suppliers like Swanson and Vitacost.

#6. Expertise on Your Smart Phone

Watch for the rise of culinary nutritionists—dietitians who can show you how to cook healthy and delicious meals because they know that in order for food to be good for you, you have to want to eat it! 

Technology is bringing more professional dietitians who can really cook to the forefront with fun videos and podcasts and traditional media appearances on television, with offerings of healthy recipes and personalized meal plans. Follow nutritionists-in-the-know so you can keep up with new and better ways to stay healthy and prevent or delay the ravages of chronic disease. Here are a few to checkout:

Dietitian Podcasts:

And check out Lori Zanini, RD, CDE for helpful videos and practical nutrition advice for people with diabetes

Updated on: January 4, 2019
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