5 New Diet & Food Trends for 2021

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
February 12, 2021
5 New Diet & Food Trends for 2021

Every January we welcome a new year that will bring changes, events and trends that affect our culture. One such area that we commonly experience cultural shifts is in our dietary habits. New diets emerge, nutrition mindsets materialize and food manufacturing processes are adopted. Here are five dietary trends you can expect to hear more about during 2021.

1. New Diets

Fad diets will come and go. That's why it's important to rely on your doctor's guidance as to whether or not a specific type of diet is right for you. This year you’ll still see healthy diets such as:

  • DASH - is a diet designed to control blood pressure. In fact, DASH a stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
  • MIND - is  a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. It was developed to help improve cognition. 
  • Mediterranean - is an eating style inspired by cuisines of the Mediterranean and is credited with lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
  • Keto Lite - is a simplified version of the Keto diet which many people have adopted to help them lose weight.  
  • Paleo - is an eating style that was inspired by foods obtained by hunting and gathering. 

Some lesser-known diets that may show up on your radar include:

  • Plant-based flexitarian - is a semi-vegetarian lifestyle that emphasizes more plant-based foods and less meat.
  • Low fodmap - is a diet used to help manage medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome. 
  • Volumetrics -  is an eating style used to promote satiety.

Many Americans are still following intermittent fasting and making breakfast their primary meal. The shutdown gave Americans more time to cook breakfast, so bigger breakfasts have been trending since last spring and will likely continue. But some researchers think this is a good thing. People who eat a big breakfast burn twice as many calories as those who eat a larger dinner, according to the study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“There are some new diets emerging that will probably get a lot of media hype,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “If you are interested in trying one, please discuss it with your doctor before doing so.”  

2. Functional Nutrition

Functional nutrition is not a diet. It’s a personalized nutrition plan based on your genetics, lab values, family history, personal health history, medications and lifestyle. A professional assesses your overall health and recommends foods to add or subtract from your diet to help you maintain or restore health. The concept has been around for a while, but experts predict an upswell in it because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Americans are looking for ways to strengthen their immune systems to help stave off COVID-19 and maintain their mental health and cognitive skills challenged during shutdowns,” says Dr. Kaminetsky. “Sound nutrition can be an effective tactic.”

If you’re interested in functional nutrition, talk to your doctor. If they’re onboard, they may be able to refer you to a qualified dietician specializing in functional nutrition.      

3. Different Ingredients

Remember when sun dried tomatoes were the craze? Mango salsa? How about bacon donuts? Like every other decade, the 2020s will have ingredient fads. Starting in 2021 watch for coffee flavored everything and these ingredient trends:

Alternative cooking oils – For years, our go to cooking oils have been corn, canola and olive. But this year walnut, pumpkin seed and sunflower seed oils are predicted to gain popularity.

Upcycled ingredients – Historically, food manufacturers used specific portions of ingredients in their products and discarded the rest. Manufacturers are now finding ways to use all of a particular ingredient to reduce waste. Examples include avocado leaves, salmon skin and okara, the byproduct of processing soymilk.  

New Twists on Old Favorites – Everyone has been eating more meals at home. Food manufacturers anticipate that you’ll eventually tire of your favorite foods and recipes and are in the process of creating new seasonings and flavor combinations. Whole Foods is prepping shoppers for applewood-smoked salt and hearts of palm pasta, while Fresh Market is predicting new seasonings like chili coffee rub, Korean ginger sesame, citrus mojo and Mexican street corn spice to be big hits.  

Healthier ingredients -- You’ll see ginger and turmeric being added to soups, sauces and juices to help lower inflammation and chickpea flour replacing wheat in breads and pizza crust.  

4. Food Manufacturing

These next trends aren’t really new – we’ve been heading in this direction for a while. But COVID sped up adoption of these mindsets, processes and products.

Localism – Consumers will continue buying food from neighborhood farms, shops and vegetable stands. When you buy locally, you support your local economy and the food tastes better. It also is more nutritious. Nutrients in fruits and vegetables wane as they age. In other words, the apple you pick from a local orchard will be healthier than one shipped from somewhere else.   

Climatarians – More people will select their foot based on the carbon footprint. Foods that have a high carbon footprint and exploit animals, like meat and dairy products, will drop in popularity this year. While low carbon footprint foods like algae, seaweed, pulses, grains, invasive species of plants, fish and insects (yes, insects) will be added to more and more shopping lists. 

Boxed wine – Boxed wine (and even canned wine) will make a comeback in 2021, potentially comprising a substantial percentage of wine sales. Why? Boxed wine is easier to store and transport, has a longer shelf life than bottled wine and generates much less carbon dioxide emissions.  

5. Dining Conveniences

Some dining conveniences were born or upgraded during 2020 to accommodate shutdowns and restrictions. However, these amenities are expected to remain popular, even after COVID is under control.

Delivery services – During 2020, we saw a rise in restaurant curbside pickup, drive-thru, takeout and delivery options; meal delivery businesses; supermarket drop offs and meal kit deliveries. 

Outdoor dining – COVID-19’s indoor dining restrictions led to more outdoor dining. Turns out, it was one of the few silver linings of the pandemic. During warmer weather, restauranteurs and community leaders in busy metropolitan areas found that outdoor dining increased pedestrian traffic, created more community spaces and decreased pollution – all helpful for our environment.  

Digital automation – If you’re not already using apps and websites to make reservations, order food and/or pay your tab (whether in the restaurant or at home), expect to in 2021. Some of these digital upgrades were initiated to make transactions during the COVID-19 pandemic safer, but consumers appreciate their convenience. 
“Again, if you are interested in changing your diet, talk to your doctor,” Dr. Kaminetsky says. “They’ll be able to guide you as to which foods and diet will coincide with your health history and medications and which may contradict.”

Contact Your Primary Care Physician to Discuss Healthy Food & Diet Options

If you don’t have a primary care physician, consider partnering with MDVIP. MDVIP-affiliated doctors have the time to work with you to help you develop a personalized wellness plan that can focus on improving your diet and health. Find a physician near you and begin your partnership in health »  

About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

View All Posts By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
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