As 2017 draws to a close, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the best food and nutrition research and discoveries covered in this year’s Nutrition Diva podcasts. Here are my picks for the best nutrition tips, strategies, and ideas of the year.
The Best Nutrition Ideas of 2017
- Mindful(ish) Eating
- Protein & Aging
- Brewed Cacao
- Healthy Lunch Club
- It’s Not About Carbs or Fat
Let’s explore each idea a little further.
1. Best Behavior Change Strategy: Mindful(ish) Eating
If I had to choose just one thing that would make the biggest positive difference in people’s eating habits, it would be eating more mindfully. It’s something that we all talk about but few of us practice on a consistent basis. And yet mindful eating has the potential to improve not just our nutrition but also our enjoyment of food.
If you’ve resisted the idea of mindful eating for fear that it would require you to eat all your meals in a state of meditative silence and chew every bit 100 times, let me reassure you that eating mindfully does not have to be that extreme in order to be extremely useful.
Last March, I outlined four strategies for mindful eating that you can easily implement without withdrawing from society—drawing unwelcome attention to yourself. Try any one of them for a week and I guarantee you will notice positive benefits.
2. Best Nutrient to Fight Aging: Protein
Which nutrient has the most potential to hold back the ravages of time? It’s not an antioxidant, hormone, growth factor, or phytonutrient. My vote for the number one anti-aging nutrient goes to protein.
My vote for number one anti-aging nutrient goes to protein.
The loss of strength, vigor, and vitality that so many people start to notice in their sixties is actually set into motion in your thirties and forties, which is when most people begin to gradually lose muscle mass and bone density. High-quality protein helps to prevent the loss of muscle and bone density as we age. (Yes, you read that correctly. Contrary to popular lore, protein actually protects against bone loss.)
Unfortunately, protein intake tends to go down as we age, just when we need it the most. I’m not saying you have to start eating a dozen eggs for breakfast or a pound of steak for dinner every day. In October, I explained how to get the most anti-aging benefit from the minimum amount of protein. Following the guidelines in that episode may be one of the most effective things you can do to make sixty the new thirty.
3. Best New Discovery: Brewed Cacao
A lot of new products cross my desk (and kitchen counter) every year, and most are variations on well-worn themes: protein bars, superfood powders, juice drinks, and probiotics. All have their pros and cons but few seem newsworthy enough to mention. But I did fall in love with one new (to me) product this year: brewed cacao.
It’s not that brewed cacao has miraculous benefits. It’s not going to melt off the belly fat, raise your IQ, make your hair thicker, or do your taxes for you. It’s just a really fun and healthy way to enjoy the flavor and benefits of chocolate—without any added sugar or calories.
Although it hasn’t replaced coffee (or, for that matter, chocolate) in my life, brewed cacao has become a favorite mid-afternoon pick-me-up and after dinner dessert alternative.
4. Best Healthy Habit: Healthy Lunch Club
Eating healthier and spending less money are two of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions. Bringing your lunch to work instead of eating out can help you do both! But with all the other demands on you, this is one resolution that usually ends up on the scrap heap before the first week is out. That’s why I love this new trend that’s been catching on in workplaces around the country: Healthy lunch clubs.
Coworkers take turns bringing in healthy lunches for each other. You get a healthy, home-cooked lunch every day but only need to plan and prepare lunch once every week or two. In March, I had six tips for setting up a healthy lunch club at your workplace. January would be the perfect time to launch a new one.
5. Best Diet Study: It’s Not About Carbs or Fat
Every year, I review a lot of nutrition research and there are always a few studies that pit one type of diet against another to see which one works best. Usually, it’s low carb diets vs. low fat diets. To be honest, I think most of these studies are a waste of energy because I don’t think there is one diet that’s best for everyone.
If you want to lose weight, don’t worry about carbs or fat. Just give up the junk food and eat your vegetables.
But back in January, I reviewed a study that put a brilliant twist on the usual low carb vs low fat debate. In this study, all of the participants ate the same foods but in different proportions. That may sound obvious, but studies are hardly ever done this way. Both groups were instructed to load up on vegetables and avoid processed foods and both the low-carb and the low-fat groups lost a similar amount of weight.
The take home from this study reinforces an idea you’ve heard me repeat many times over the years: If you want to lose weight, don’t worry about carbs or fat. Just give up the junk food and eat your vegetables.
What would you like to hear about in 2018?
Next year will be the tenth anniversary of the Nutrition Diva podcast and I’m looking forward to celebrating all year long with special episodes and themes! I’m sure there will be plenty of new research, products, trends, and fads to talk about. But is there something in particular you’re dying to learn more about? Post it below or drop me an email. I always love to hear from you.
We wouldn’t be here without our loyal listeners and readers so I also want to take a moment to thank you for your support over the last year and decade. From all of us at Quick and Dirty TIps, warm wishes for a happy and healthy new year!
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