365 Days, 365 Diets

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Every year, fitness enthusiasts embark on new (and sometimes questionable) diets. Purva Indulkar asks wellness experts which of these trends they think will stick around in 2016 and which will disappear

In 2015, social media played a major role in propagating health and wellness trends. Gwyneth Paltrow made kale famous, more people began drinking flavoured water and cold-pressed juices, and everyone finally learned how to pronounce quinoa (hint: keen-wah). But, we also saw a few dangerous trends such as juice cleanses, which sap your body of its energy. As Nigella Lawson once said, “‘People are using certain diets as a way to hide an eating disorder or a great sense of unhappiness with their own body.” And, since 2016 is sure to bring with it a slew of new trends, we’ve asked wellness experts, nutritionists and fitness experts what trends they think are healthy enough to stay and which ones you should say goodbye to.

The classic ‘balanced diet’
Nutritionist Prachi Sanghvi thinks that the classic balanced diet will become popular this year. She tells us, “I think a healthy diet with a balanced nutritional plan will become a trend in 2016 because over the years (and thanks to the internet), people have become a lot more aware of health issues. They’ve learned about nutritional requirements and realise that they won’t lose weight simply by eating less. People are now swapping junk food for healthier alternatives. They are also aware that different fad diets are temporary solutions to long-term problems. Simply relying on green tea and salads to lose weight is unhealthy. I hope that in the coming year, people stop starving themselves.”

The vegan mindset
Mother and child nutritionist, Dhvani Shah, thinks that veganism is going to be big this year too, “More people are turning to veganism because of the methods that are involved in obtaining milk and meat from animals. People who go vegan include legumes, seeds, nuts and beans in their diet. These are rich in iron, calcium, protein and other nutrients, and aid in weight loss,” she tells us. She also envisions people eating more grains, especially ancient grains such as amaranth, sorghum, millets and quinoa. “Though these grains have always been part of our traditional Indian diet, they are going to be big in 2016. Not only are they gluten-free, they are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemiclas that boost your health,” she adds.

The harms of nutritional over-restriction
Dhvani warns us about the dangers of elimination diets, which require you to cut a particular food group out of your diet. “These diets lead to deficiencies. They started off as a way to detect food allergies, but have gone too far!” she says. But, what of the paleo diet, which only allows meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit and some nuts, but completely eliminates grains, cereals, pulses, legumes, milk products, potatoes, sugar and salt? Is it outdated? “It isn’t suited to the Indian palate and is a major cause of micronutrient deficiencies.”

Healthy fat, but no weight-loss teas
Healthy fat — is there such a thing? Sucheta Pal, Zumba master trainer and group fitness expert, says, “Healthy fat will be a huge diet trend this year, because people will continue to consume avocadoes. I also think that vegetable smoothies could become a go-to breakfast option. Hopefully, the Indian public will also jump on to the Greek yogurt bandwagon and try kale, tomatoes and beetroot with it.” However, she believes that weight-loss teas are harmful and tells us that fat-loss teas that claim you will lose 10kg in two weeks are a myth. Her solution? Just drink regular tea, because it has antioxidants. She also suggests simply eating fruits instead of trying cold-pressed juices, as their nutrients are still intact if you eat the fruit.

Food is as important as exercise
Neha Motwani, founder of Fitternity, has a broad prediction for 2016. She thinks that health enthusiasts will finally realise that simply working out is not enough to stay fit, but that food plays an important role as well. She tells us, “People are more concerned about where their food comes from and about the right time to eat it. My top picks for 2016 would have to be the power bowl meal and spiral vegetables. Both involve methods of preparation and cooking rather than diet plans or fads. A power bowl is a one-dish meal that is served in bowls, with various combinations of protein, fat and carbohydrates. It is easy to prepare and serve and is suitable for Indian cooking techniques as well as people’s tastes. Spiral vegetables can be used as a replacement for pasta. My personal favourite is zucchini pesto pasta — it can help curb ‘pasta pangs’ and is fresh and healthy.” And, Neha also thinks juice cleanses and paleo diets are harmful. She tells us, “These diets and fads are not particularly healthy. I think people should try diets that last long instead of just something that you do for a week.”

Know thyself
Dr. Amrapali Patil, weight management expert and founder of Trim n Tone, says, “In my opinion, mindfulness is written all over 2016. Whole grains and ancient grains are going to be popular choices.

Also, more people are going to take the vegan path.

For non-vegetarians, the Viking/ Nordic diet will be a good choice. People aren’t going to pick fat-free foods — 2016 is going to be about healthy, wholesome diets and not about elimination diets. I also think that people will choose wine over hard drinks.”

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