2013 predictions in health and wellness

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Vegan Collard Wrap

This is the companion piece to a column in which we looked at top health news stories of 2012. Paula Deen, Dr. Oz, Obamacare, soda bans, and organic foods made the headlines that caught our eye. By reviewing the trends of last year are we able to predict what is going to be trending this year? I think there are some areas which are going evolve in the health and wellness field.

Here is a quick list of our predictions:

Plant-based diet (vegan) becomes more mainstream. Let’s officially drop the word vegan to describe a diet consisting of no or very little animal products. Gone is the reputation that living this lifestyle means flavorless salads and lack of protein. Restaurants throughout the city like Protein Bar are including many dishes on their menus which include no animal products at all.

Today popular documentaries like Forks Over Knives (FOK) have spawned communities like The Engine 2. The doc takes a look at the increase of animal consumption and the rise of disease. With many high-profile celebrities now “going vegan,” no longer is the focus here solely about animal rights, which many still hold close to their heart, but more about health and disease prevention.

Alternative health practices covered by insurance. As we move closer to 2014 and the Affordable Care Act becoming reality, our prediction is that Big Insurance will start to focus on preventative medicine and practices. Health coaches, acupuncturists, chiropractics and naturopaths are currently being looked to for helping to prevent and reverse diseases. Many Flex Spending Accounts (FSAs) currently cover these services.

With the alarming increase of heart disease, diabetes and obesity in the United States, Big Insurance is beginning to realize the importance of keeping people healthy. According to the American Diabetes Association, “Factoring in the additional costs of undiagnosed diabetes, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes brings the total cost of diabetes in the United States in 2007 to $218 billion.” If insurance companies focus on prevention, these exorbitant costs could almost completely go away.

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) banned in government buildings/hospitals. Sound like a stretch? Even Nostradamus had some misses! It may very well be off by a few years, but I truly feel like it is in the pipeline. The recent ban on greater than 16 oz sodas is already on the books in NYC, as well as, The Cleveland Clinic’s total ban on any SSBs in any of its buildings, governments and institutions are beginning to see the direct correlation between consuming SSBs and both diabetes and obesity.

The main problem here is with Big Soda and the millions of dollars they spend lobbying and finding creative ways of staying relevant in a market where health is becoming more of a focus. Even the American Diabetic Association seems to have “sold-out” and includes both Pepsi and Coca-cola as their top sponsors.

The rise of healthy fast-casual restaurants. You are busy, over-worked, and you don’t have time to eat healthy. We have heard all the excuses. Actually, now you do. We first addressed this in a piece written last year. Here we highlighted great, healthy, fast-casual downtown spots including Freshii, Native Foods, and Protein Bar. The latter of which is growing exponentially from the original three and now 12 stores and growing into other cities.

Lyfe Kitchen, a healthy, “socially responsible” fast-casual restaurant founded by former COO of McDonald’s, Mike Roberts, and Chicago’s own Celebri-chef, Art Smith, is poised to take the lead in this market. There are only two California stores to date, but franchising opportunities and a lot of good press in 2012 makes us feel like a Lyfe will be opening in a neighborhood near you soon.

These four trends are the ones that I am putting my bets on for 2013. Other trends which will most likely continue to rise are gluten-free products and stores, green smoothies, grains like teff becoming more widely used, vegan babies, and increased sustainability with a move away from food wasting.

An overall prediction is that 2013 is going to be a healthy and prosperous year for all of us if we simply put a mindful focus on our lives and our health.

About Chip Allman, CHHC

Chip is a healthy lifestyle coach and owner of health and wellness company Naturally Fortified. He's a nutrition nerd at heart and plans to save the world one kale "chip" at a time!