From Fat-Free to Gluten-Free: Nutrition Trend History and Progress – What Will 2011 See?

Twenty years ago everyone was sure fat had to be gone, done, absent from our meals; then someone realized it helped hormones, cushioned our body necessarily, and helped store fat-soluble vitamins. Ten years ago the Atkins Diet was in full force and removing carbs from many tables; then, the Doctor himself had a heart attack, red flag. Five years ago there was an obsession with sugar-free foods; then we were told sugar-substitutes in large amounts might not be so “healthy”. The last few years have introduced “Gluten Free” dieting as a trend, rather than the allergy/intolerance it should be reserved for.

Atkins-Diet sugarsubs glutenfree

Sources – Atkins, Sugar Substitutes, Gluten Free

Whew. Good thing we moved past all that, right? Right…

Carbs have luckily made their way back into menus and diets; real raw sugar has started to take back its reign; Gluten free items continue to be made available – great for Celiac’s Disease & intolerances, bad for the fad.

Now, we all move on and wonder – what’s next?

What will 2011 bring to the table that we haven’t seen before? Or what will make a comeback, stealing our attention and menu-planners once again?

I took a survey for the Nutrition Blog Network this morning on the topic. Here are a few things I think/hope will have their 15 minutes of fame, and hopefully stay right in the spotlight where they belong:

  • Focus on healthy, not “skinny”
  • Shift to a plant-based diet (where there is still room for consuming healthy, lean protein in whatever form you prefer/choose)
  • Menu labeling with calorie counts/information
  • Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Eat local foods!
  • Using Food/Nutrition Applications (computer and/or mobile apps)
  • Healthier Kids’ meals options
  • Naturally nutrient-rich foods, vs fortified/processed

One trend/action I don’t agree with, regardless of my own opinion on soda/diet soda: Introducing a Soda Tax – while I do think that it will decrease sales to some extent, it won’t be for the right reason. People will completely change their diet, and continue to eat/drink healthier, if it is by their own choice through readiness and education. By increasing price and making the product “unaffordable”, it simply creates a barrier, not a choice.

Last, but certainly not least, these are three things that I sincerely hope start to resonate and have an impact on the way we eat, and the way we think about Nutrition needs:

  • Reading and understanding nutrition labels and/or calorie counts (e.g. menu items) – The information is available, but not helpful if consumers don’t understand what the numbers mean to/for them.
  • Benefits of consuming healthy fats in moderation
  • Benefits of consuming natural foods with real ingredients, vs processed fortified foods – If anything comes to fruition, this would be the ONE I would focus on. Ingredient lists should be full of things we recognize, and could use in our own kitchens if we made the product ourselves. Simple as that.


Above all – Social Media is changing the way all of this happens, and how quickly all of it unfolds. This blog post is a perfect example of that – as will be the tweet I send out in a few minutes to grab your attention! So, What do you think of these trends? What do YOU predict for 2011’s Nutrition News headlines?



Filed under about me, food, in the News, learning, Nutrition

15 responses to “From Fat-Free to Gluten-Free: Nutrition Trend History and Progress – What Will 2011 See?

  1. I have a gluten intolerance so this whole ‘gluten free’ as a diet solution thing annoys the heck out of me… I know Elizabeth Hasselback has brought a lot of awareness to Celiac disease, but I personally can’t stand how she sort of positions this as a ‘dieting solution’…

    It will be interesting to see what the next trend is for 2011!

  2. Great post, Heather! I couldn’t agree more about the ingredients list. It comes so naturally for me to look at the ingredient list before I buy/eat something but I know it doesn’t for everyone. I try to spread the word – starting with my family, mainly my mom because she’s interested. I think I’ll do a post and link back to your post to reiterate this topic.

    I think with the growing number of nutrition professionals and people in school for nutrition studies, the word is getting out there and will continue through 2011.

  3. My MIL just gave me this old cookbook that she found from the 70s that’s called something about natural foods. It’s so funny to me because most of the stuff in it is relevant and “trendy” right now – whole grains, no added sugars, there’s even stuff about chia seeds.

    I think that the trend for 2011 is going to be less processed foods.

  4. honestly, being gluten intolerant myself, I was suprised that so many people thought it was a good diet plan. Its good if you replace it healthy GF grains like brown rice, millet, etc. But a lot of products that are GF are so full of sugars and unenriched flours. You have to be careful. Just my opinion though. Thanks for this!

  5. Chaya

    I also hope that the US continues to shift toward a plant-based diet. And yes, healthy over skinny! I do have one correction to make- Atkins died of a fall, not a heart attack (his heart attack was the year before). I still think it’s a ridiculous diet, but it’s silly enough on its own merits.

    Keep up the good postings!

  6. i love your predictions! they are so positive and exactly what we need!

  7. I know the soda tax isn’t going to cure all but I really do hope it helps more people really take a look at their intake and question whether it’s really worth it or not… Then again it doesn’t stop smokers from smoking cigarettes that are taxed to high heaven so…

  8. It’s amazing to look back on all the diet/health fads over the last several years.

    I would love to see more emphasis placed on WHOLE HEALTHY NATURAL foods and yes, completely agree with healthy VS skinny.

  9. Great post, Heather! Man, Atkins was a seriously bad fad. I agree that giving consumers the information so they really understand what’s in their food and why certain things might be harmful is important. For example, I know a family who eats fast food and things like biscuits and gravy regularly and really don’t understand that they could make quick easy meals at home that are MUCH healthier and budget friendly. It’s especially sad to see what fake processed foods do to society, and especially low income populations. Ugh!

    I feel like in the past year, eating closer to home with fresh ingredients has become more popular. I hope that just continues to increase.

  10. What an awesome trendspotting article! You are so right with the “fads” we’ve seen. I think it just shows that no matter what, moderation is key. You have to burn off what you put in, that’s it.

    I like your examples on things to be mindful of. It’s so important with all the news and buzz about one diet craze after another to make sure you’re doing what’s best for you.

  11. So glad to have just found your website! I completely agree with you about dieting trends :). Things can get sooo twisted and completely destroy the reason behind why eating a certain way (such as gluten-free) might serve a purpose. I was actually really upset with the GF trend because ppl kept saying that it was this or that…and it was actually mostly untrue.

    I love educating people…and i hope to keep doing so …and look forward to reading more on your blog!

  12. Amazing post and so true! There are so many silly diet trends out there and they’ve gotten more silly over the years! People just need to eat healthy! 🙂

  13. runningoutofsteam

    I am hoping that comsumers become more aware. This post gave me an idea as I plan new lessons for students. I NEED to bring in nutrition labels and RDAs and have students use those numbers for math. I don’t know how much the middle school level health here gets into food nutrition, so I’m not sure about linking with that curriculum. But it is still something to look into.

  14. What a thought-provoking post! Can I skip making predictions and instead wish upon a star that your predictions come true?

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