Food Trends for 2015: Part 1

imagesA few weeks ago, I was asked, along with my friend and colleague Tiffani Ghere (Registered Dietitian at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital), to speak to a group of women about the “Food Trends for 2015.” We jumped at the opportunity since we love speaking together and we both obviously enjoy nutrition (mostly because we LOVE food…and wine!) Many of you have asked for the notes from this talk, so here is Part 1 of our combined efforts to dispel some of the most common myths and misconceptions regarding some of the newest trends in food. But before we start, I want to make a disclaimer: we both love food, REAL, WHOLE FOODS. I attended the “Natural Food Expo” in Anaheim this past year and was impressed by the amount of organic, vegan, gluten-free JUNK FOOD! Be careful with labels and fad diets, READ LABELS, and avoid processed anything…the only true “Natural Food Expo” is your local farmer’s market!

  • Gluten-Free Diet (by Tiffani Ghere)

What is gluten? Interestingly, a recent survey of people who followed a gluten-free diet for “health” reasons showed that the majority of them (more than 75%) could not answer this question. In addition, when asked, 80% of Americans surveyed follow a gluten-free diet to lose weight or because it is “healthier”. Hmm…Let’s look at some facts:

GLUTEN is a protein found in the endosperm that comes from wheat, barley, rye and most oats. It gives food that “chewiness” or elasticity.

True gluten allergy, or celiac disease, affects 1 in 133 Americans and takes an average of 6-10 years to diagnose! Celiac disease is also more common in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes.

Is it healthier to be “gluten-free”? If you have celiac disease, absolutely; it can be life-changing! If you have a “sensitivity” or intolerance to gluten (and this is difficult to prove), perhaps, but remember always to consider the source of the food…whole foods are best, and beware of the processed, gluten-free foods! In fact, both sugar and high fructose corn syrup are GLUTEN-FREE!

  • Healthy Carbohydrate and Ancient Grains (by Tiffani Ghere)

Carbs have been demonized for decades due to their high glycemic response in the body. And this is true, especially when speaking of highly processed carbohydrates which are nutrient poor and calorie rich. For this reason, I’ll always be in favor of Ancient Grains. 

Ancient Grains are rich in nutrients, fiber and biologic value, including essential amino acids…in other words, they are “carbs” that contain protein! Bonus! Let’s talk about a few:

Quinoa- definitely #1in popularity, this ancient grain is technically a seed, and means “mother grain.” It comes to us from the Andes mountains; Bolivia, Chile, Peru. It is a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids, it’s high in iron, phosphorus and potassium. And yes, it is gluten free!

Bulgur- bulgur is a hard red wheat from the Middle East which is high in fiber, niacin, iron and vitamin B6

Amaranth- amaranth comes to us from South America, and also has a high protein content, as well as vitamin C, iron, and it’s also gluten-free!

Other ancient grains include Kamut and Teff, both containing a great amino acid profile and full of vitamins and other nutrients.

So next time you walk by the “grain” aisle, look for any of these! Throw them in soups or have some cooked in the fridge ready to add to salads, or use as a side dish for your favorite healthy proteins!

  • Organic Foods/ Non-GMO

Let’s talk about organics…the market for organic food has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, and its momentum is still going strong. Sales of organic foods have reached 42 billion dollars, and now organics are sold at Walmart, Target, Kroger’s and your neighborhood grocery store, yay! But let’s take a closer look at organic food…

What does certified organic mean?

  • Animal products- means that they were not given any kind of antibiotics or growth hormones, were only fed organic feed and are not given any additional medications besides routine vaccines.
  • Fruits/vegetables- they are grown without using pesticides or fertilizers with synthetic ingredients. Also tells you they did not plant genetically modified seeds (more on this later) and they did not treat the seeds or foods with irradiation.

How do we identify Organic foods at the store? That little sticker with bars and numbers (the PLU, or Product Lookup number) actually gives US information about the products (not just the check-out person!)

  • PLU with 4 numbers – conventionally grown banana is #4011
  • PLU with 5 numbers starting with #9 – organic and not genetically modified banana PLU # 94011
  • PLU with 5 numbers starting with #8 – GMO fruit or vegetable. Labeling is completely voluntary, so not present in many GMO foods…banana would be #84011

Are organic foods healthier? This is, of course, THE question of all questions There are studies that show additional health benefits and studies that show no difference…my personal feeling is that we should buy organics for what they DON’T have: pesticides, chemical fertilizers, food additives, colorings or flavorings. Of course many people buy organics for the benefit of the environment; reducing pollution, conserving water and improving soil quality.

For more information on Organics, check out my previous Blog HERE

  • GMOs/non-GMOs

What are GMOs? GMOs are experimental plants or animals that have been genetically engineered in a lab with DNA from other plants, animals or viruses.

  • PROs– better overall quality and taste (flavors are enhanced), more resistant to disease, vitamins and minerals can be added fairly easily.
  • CONS– environmental damage, growth in allergic reactions, animal studies show changes in internal cell structure and abnormal tumor growth.
  • GMO ingredients are found in 80% of packaged, processed food in the US

In 2010, 93% of soy, 86% of corn, and 90% of canola is GMO.

  • Unfortunately, there is no mandatory labeling in US or Canada (40 other countries mandate that GMO foods be labeled)
  • How to avoid GMOs? Consume fresh foods, organics and NON-GMO project verified foods

 Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will discuss juicing/cleansing, probiotics, healthy fats and coconut everything!

Thank you Tiffani! For more information on Tiffani’s background and private practice, go to

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