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Being wellness professionals, knowing about food trends and how they impact on the health of clients is important, so let’s get ahead of the curve and stay informed, says Dr Linia Patel (PhD, RD).

At the end of each year in my role as spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, there is always a flurry of media requests asking the same question: “Nutrition wise, what’s in store for the new year?”

Trends are often forecasted by market researchers, teams of analysts and industry experts. Harder to predict are the nutrition trends and fads that arise from influencers and non-credentialed ‘experts’ on social media platforms who often disappear as quickly as they come. Whatever the source, everyday food choices are impacted by diet and nutrition trends. Navigating the world of trends can be tricky. Let’s take a look:

  1. Plant power

The trend: Plant-based eating has been trending for a while now. Experts predict that plant foods will continue to be popular in 2024 – but people may get pickier. Firstly, there may be a shift towards plant diversity. Secondly, due to the negative press around ultra-processed foods, consumers will be wanting more ‘real’ plant-based items like beans and pulses, and nuts, seeds and other plants, rather than ‘fake meat’.

What science says: Eating more plants is one thing that would not only make us healthier, but also live longer. However, the research still does not show that being vegan is the only way and the best way. What the research does clearly show is that our gut bacteria love variety. Some American researchers found that people who eat about 30 different plant-based foods a week had a more diverse gut biome than those who were eating half that. In terms of ultra-processed food and gut health more research is needed; however, we are seeing a general trend that highly processed foods which are high in food additives and preservatives disrupt the healthy bacteria in your gut.

My verdict: The plant-based trend is here to stay and, given the power of plants, that is a good thing. Variety is the spice of life in nutrition terms too. So, it’s important to not always go for the same vegetable or fruit. Mix it up as much as possible and choose different items to put in your shopping basket. Although 30 is a not a magic number, the more different plant-based foods you eat over the week, the better for your health. Although the exact definition of ultra-processed food is up for debate, a trend that encourages us to put more whole foods like beans and lentils instead of the likes of plant-based bacon on the plate is always a good trend. My top tip when it comes to plant-based eating is to stay traditional.

  1. Food and mood

The trend: The connection between nutrition and mental health will continue to receive more attention. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and whole foods will be recommended for supporting cognitive wellbeing.

What science says: Nutritional psychiatry has been a growing area of research in the last 10 years. Studies show that people eating ‘traditional diets’ such as the Mediterranean diet or the traditional Japanese diet (i.e., based on whole foods and high in fibre) when compared to a typical highly processed Standard America Diet (SAD diet) or a ‘Western’ diet have a 25-35% lower risk of experiencing depression! In addition, more than 90% of your serotonin (aka your happy hormone) receptors are in the gut.

My verdict: “You are what you eat” is a common saying. Given that our gut bacteria are so intricately involved with how well our entire body works technically, the saying should be: “You are what your gut bacteria eat!” Caring for ourselves means caring for our gut. This is a trend that should be here to stay.

  1. Balance – the new sexy

The trend: According to market analysts, exclusive diets like keto and calorie counting will start to decrease in popularity and more healthy, balanced and flexible eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet will increase in popularity. In fact, #mediterraneandiet is already trending. In the past year on TikTok, the term #mediterraneanfood has had an impressive 76 million US views.

What science says: Research consistently shows that the Mediterranean diet is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality. When looking at the underlying mechanisms that might account for a positive impact of the med diet, researchers believe one of the biggest drivers is the anti-inflammatory properties of the Mediterranean diet.

My verdict: Being a dietitian, this is encouraging as the Mediterranean diet is a well-rounded, sustainable eating pattern that tastes wonderful and is good for you! Rather, foods are seen on a spectrum of ‘Eat more’ on one end, ‘Eat some’ in the middle and ‘Eat less’ at the other end (see table). This makes nutrition more practical, flexible, enjoyable and so much easier to make a way of life vs a diet that you go on and come off.

Eat more/eat some/eat less guide

Eat more Eat some Eat less
Colourful vegetables (fresh and frozen)

Whole fruit (fresh and frozen)

Beans and lentils


Plain yogurts

Lean protein sources

Unsalted nuts and seeds and nut butter


Extra virgin olive oil

Spices and herbs


White wheat products like white pasta and white rice

Red meat

Saturated fat like butter or cheese


Foods and drinks with added sugars

Fast food

Ultra-processed foods

Processed meats

Refined vegetable oils

  1. It’s personal

The trend: The ‘one size fits all’ approach to healthy eating and wellness is yesterday’s news. It is now about getting up close and personal. Personalised nutrition aims to capture an individual’s health desires and data – and typically will use test kits and wearables to develop targeted nutritional advice. Measuring blood sugar is currently a big trend that will continue to gain popularity.

What science says: By combining blood sugar analysis (using a CGM) with blood fat measurements, as well as technology that looks at the bacteria in your gut, a company called Zoe claims to provide personalised advice to thousands. Zoe has based much of its existence on a series of research studies called Personalised Responses to Dietary Composition Trial (PREDICT) studies, which are ongoing. When you dig through the PREDICT study data, it seems the correlations they have found between how foods impact people on a population level were not super strong. This then calls into question how accurate and meaningful personalised nutrition monitors like Zoe are currently. While some results may be interesting, we still have a long way to go before the claims that personalised nutrition companies are currently making are substantiated.

My verdict: Dietitians and nutritionists are already giving advice about the importance of eating more whole plant foods and individualised advice – even without Zoe. Nutrition should be personalised to the individual. However, the reality is that this technology is still in its infancy when not used for managing diabetes. If you do choose to use a CGM – keep in mind that, like most things, it is all about context. Many things affect blood glucose responses, including what and how much you eat.

Take-home message

 As fit pros you will know that, when it comes to health and wellness, there is no magic bullet. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If anything feels like a quick fix, it probably won’t give you the long-term results you are looking for. Add to that, anything pitched about being the ‘ultimate’ solution for all should raise concern. We are all individuals and there is no perfect diet, perfect food or perfect workout routine for us all.


  1. Mwdawar E et al (2019), The effects of plant-based diets on the body and the brain. A systematic review, Translational Psychiatry, 9: 226.
  2. Firth J (2020), Food and mood: How do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing? BMJ, 369.
  3. Merra G, Noce A, Marrone G et al (2020), Influence of Mediterranean Diet on Human Gut Microbiota, Nutrients,
  4. Berry et al (2020), The effect of postprandial glucose dips on hunger and energy intake in 1,102 subjects in US and UK: the PREDICT 1 study, Current Developments in Nutrition, 4(2): 1,611.


About the Author

Dr Linia Patel

Dietitian and sports nutritionist

As a self-confessed “total foodie”, being an award-winning dietitian and sports nutritionist comes naturally to our resident dietitian and long-time Fitpro magazine contributor, Dr Linia Patel. She likes to take a block of science and slice it up into easy-to-digest and practical advice. With a PhD in Public Health and over 100 published articles on diet and health, she is a British Dietetic Association Spokesperson and is regularly seen appearing on national TV and being quoted in the press. She’s the science expert for Tess Daly’s best-selling book 4 Steps to a Happier & Healthier You, is a qualified fitness instructor and has worked extensively in high performance sport. She is particularly passionate about women’s health, helping women to be the best version of themselves.

Key expertise:

  • Translating science into easy-to-digest, practical advice
  • Dietitian and sports nutritionist
  • Media spokesperson
  • Women’s health (athletes, non-athletes and everything in between)
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