The Diet People Are Quitting in 2022—And What They’re Doing Instead
What diets and wellness trends will people adopt to support their health and wellness in the new year? We’ve got 10 predictions for the diets people will embrace and leave behind in 2022.
The diet that's out for 2022
Keto has been the hot diet for several years now, but search engines report a downward trend in keto diet popularity—something we predict will continue to decline in 2022. The keto diet was created almost 100 years ago as a treatment for epilepsy, but most know it for weight loss.
The goal of the keto diet is to establish ketosis, a state in which the body is forced to break down fat for fuel. This is done by consistently consuming a diet high in fat (70 to 80% of calories), moderate in protein, and very low in carbs. Consequently, lots of healthy, nutrient-dense foods (like fruit) are off-limits.
The diet’s restrictive nature is one reason we think interest is fading. Another reason is that consumers are realizing they can achieve desirable outcomes without eliminating carbs. Dietary guidelines for carbohydrates offer a wide intake range from 45 to 65% of total calories—for a 1600-calorie diet, this is 180 to 260 grams of carbs.
Many have success by eating toward the lower end of the range and consuming higher-fiber, whole food carbs (vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts, and whole grains), rather than going a low-carb extreme like keto. This is the basis for the Carb Conscious track in the Cooking Light Diet, which tailors calorie intake and macros to your body's needs and health and weight loss goals.
Diet and wellness trends that will stick around in 2022
1) Intermittent fasting: People are finally realizing that intermittent fasting (IF) isn’t about going without or deprivation. Rather, IF focuses on eating within a specified time window. While many initially try it for weight loss, the benefits go way beyond the scale. The key to healthy and effective fasting is fueling up with the proper nutrients during in your eating window.
2) Virtual nutrition & wellness: The pandemic forced doctors, therapists, dietitians, and other healthcare providers to offer more virtual and telehealth options than ever. The convenience of squeezing in (or making) an appointment and providing options outside your local area is huge, so we’re glad to see it continue. Digital platforms and apps have also stepped up their game with more competitors in the marketplace, and this includes the Cooking Light Diet.
3) Cooking at home: Whether we wanted to or not, we all cooked at home more in the last several years. While you’d think this would have created burnout in the kitchen, it’s surprisingly made cooking more of an activity or gathering and less like a chore. Granted, we all need a break from the kitchen at times, and dining out is even more of a treat these days. What we’re getting at is this: We love how the past two years have made gathering and cooking in the kitchen a major part of our lives once again. This is a another good thing that doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in 2022.
Wellness trends to watch for in 2022
1) Gut health expands to the whole body: Research continues to reveal more about the influence that our microbiomes and good bacteria have on overall health, and this continues to drive sales for probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kombucha, as well as probiotic supplements. But the microbiome isn’t limited to the gut; it refers to the collection of microbes throughout the body. New research examining how other areas of the body impact the microbiome is coming, so be on the lookout for dental and skin care habits to boost the microbiome in 2022.
2) Anti-inflammatory eating for everyone: Most automatically equate the term “diet” with weight loss, but the term actually refers to one’s usual pattern of food and drink. This usual pattern determines the level of low-grade chronic inflammation and susceptibility or risk for diseases over time in the body, so adopting anti-inflammatory eating and lifestyle habits is important for all ages. From a food perspective, this means choosing more whole and minimally processed foods, cooking at home, and incorporating top anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, salmon, berries, olive oil, and green tea. If you’re not sure where to start, look to the Cooking Light Diet. While we don’t label it as an anti-inflammatory diet, it’s based on the same anti-inflammatory principles.
3) Ashwagandha everything: Ashwagandha grew slowly in popularity in 2020 and 2021, but it’s going to be bigger than ever in 2022 so get ready to see this adaptogen everywhere. Used in ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years, adaptogens improve the body’s physiological ability to cope with stress and include ashwagandha, turmeric, holy basil, goji berries, and others—but ashwagandha is one of the most studied. Research suggests consuming it consistently can significantly reduce stress and may ease anxiety, depression, and insomnia. What’s even better is there appear to be few, if any, side effects or risks.
4) Conscious drinking: “Sober-curious” refers to the interest that alcohol-drinking consumers have in incorporating alcohol-free or lower-alcohol drink options. These beverages—referred to as NoLos within the industry—include spirits, beers, seltzers, and cocktails. According to the Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report released earlier this month, 58% say they’re already drinking less than they did a year ago because of their availability, and 79% of consumers are interested in trying more of these options. With a host of new NoLos headed to market in 2022, this means more options for both those who abstain and those who want to take a more conscious, healthy approach to drinking.
5) Reducetarianism: Coined by Whole Foods in their 2022 trends report released in October, “reducetarianism” is the uber-trendy name for adopting a flexitarian eating approach as part of an eco-friendlier lifestyle. Flexitarian eating refers to eating a vegetarian diet, while occasionally incorporating meat, poultry, eggs, and/or seafood. Rather than giving up meat and animal products altogether, reducetarianism means making animal food an occasional (rather than daily or regular) item in your diet—and when you do incorporate animal foods, choosing those raised with sustainable, eco-friendly practices. The overarching goal is to rely less on animals and more on plants for our nourishment.
6) New plant flavors: Yuzu and hibiscus are two plants that you’ll likely start to see in products like kombucha, yogurt, vinegars, and salad dressings. Yuzu is a tart, bright orange-yellow citrus fruit primarily grown in Asia that’s about the size of a clementine or tangerine. It made a brief appearance in culinary world a few years ago and is coming back bigger in 2022 using its juice as a substitute for orange, lemon, or lime. The flowering hibiscus plant is also predicted to be a popular way to add flavor and pink color to food, drink, and skincare products.
Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, a culinary nutrition expert known for ability to simplify food and nutrition information and the author of two cookbooks, Meals That Heal: 100+ Everyday Anti-Inflammatory Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less and One-Pot Meals That Heal (June 2022). She is also co-host of the Happy Eating podcast which explores the influence that diet and lifestyle have on mental wellness. You can follower on Instagram @realfoodreallife_rd or on carolynwilliamsrd.com.