The last thing most of us want to do in the new year is start a depressingly restrictive diet or trudge to the gym before daybreak. Instead, getting fit and healthy in 2021 will be all about simplicity, gentleness and finding our inner calm.
Here are the wellness trends set to change our lives next year…
1. Fast – but for part of the day
In 2021, the trend for intermittent fasting – or time-restricted eating – will continue to grow, as evidence mounts to show its benefits for weight loss and all round health.
You could lose half a stone in three months simply by eating all your normal meals between 8am and 6pm, according to Harley Street nutritionist Jeannette Hyde’s book 10 Hour Diet (published January 21, Simon & Schuster).
“Research shows this is the sweet spot,” she explains. “Fasting for 14 hours overnight helps improve heart health, lower blood pressure and protect against type 2 diabetes because our bodies go into repair mode. It’s a kinder, gentler way to lose weight.”
The science behind this says humans were never meant to eat at the times we do now. With people eating breakfast early and having dinner late, their systems don’t have enough time to recover overnight.
2. Load up on new superfoods
Among this year’s predicted new superfoods is carob. The chocolate substitute is seeing a revival as it contains hydroxyproline, an amino acid involved in collagen production that is often deficient in vegan diets. For palm oil-free carob, try Biona’s Carobio carob and hazelnut spread, £4.69 for 350g.
Starch-rich breadfruit tastes a bit like bread when cooked but can also be dried and ground into flour, which a British Columbia University study suggested was easier to digest than wheat. “Flour produced from breadfruit is a gluten-free, low glycaemic index, nutrient-dense, and complete protein option for modern foods,” says lead researcher Ying Liu.
Mankai duckweed, also known as Wolffia globosa, contains fibre, iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 and could help you lose weight.
A study published in the journal Heart found men following a Mediterrean diet who drank a daily duckweed shake lost 800g more on average over six months compared with those following the diet alone. Common duckweed (Lemna minor) is licensed in the EU for use in food supplements but Wolffia globosa powder is still under review to see if it can be classed as a “novel food” allowed in supplements.
3. Embrace micro-changes
Joanne Mallon, author of Change Your Life in 5 Minutes a Day (published January 14, Vie), recommends replacing a new year lifestyle overhaul with “micro-changes”: small, easy fixes, which improve your life, such as stepping outside to look at the sky or taking five minutes to extend a conversation with a neighbour beyond just “hello”. “It’s amazing how even the smallest interactions like that can make a difference to our day and make us feel more connected and less isolated,” she says.
4. An immunity-boosting break
International travel will soon be back on the agenda but health-conscious holidaymakers are swapping cocktail-soaked breaks for healthier options. One in three of us now wants to do more to improve our immune systems, according to market analysts Mintel, so it’s no surprise bookings for immunity-boosting retreats are up 22 per cent at specialist holiday provider Health and Fitness Travel.
Founder Paul Joseph says: “Our clients want to continue or start their fitness journey and improve resilience to stress, boost immunity and therefore improve their mental and physical wellbeing following a tumultuous 2020.”
Luxury breaks to Greece, Spain and Thailand offer travellers a health MOT in the form of blood and urine tests, nutritional analysis, guidance on boosting immunity with lifestyle changes and a host of treatments such as deep meditation, forest walks and underwater massage.
There’s no firm evidence these treatments can really alter your body’s immune response but that hasn’t put off Britons desperate to escape the gloom – and they are certainly better for you than overdoing it the all-you-can-eat buffet.
5. Stress-reducing chocolate
With a third of adults now more anxious than they were before the pandemic, says Mintel, stress-reducing foods will be big in 2021. Eating dark chocolate can help, with 2018 research by Loma Linda University in California showing chocolate with more than 70 per cent cacao had a positive effect on stress and inflammation levels, mood, memory and immunity. But supercharged dark chocolate – enhanced with other stress-relieving compounds – will be big business this year, according to employee wellbeing company Kamwell. Relaxing added ingredients include reishi mushroom, which is used in Asian medicine to promote sleep, and the cannabis extract CBD, which several small studies have suggested can help reduce anxiety. Products like The London Botanists’ CBD-infused dark chocolate bar (£6) and Four Sigmatic’s reishi-infused hot chocolate (10 sachets for £17.50), are already on sale.
6. Eat a ‘climatarian’ diet
Worried about our impact on the planet but can’t stick to a wholly vegan diet? Climatarianism could be the way forward in 2021. The diet means sticking to foods with a low carbon footprint and the least environmental impact, such as local and seasonal produce, sustainable fish, animal products from high-welfare, free-range suppliers, while also avoiding excess packaging. Meat eaters should switch from beef and lamb to pork and chicken to save a ton of CO2 from being emitted every year, according to not-for-profit group the Climates network. It says: “Grazing animals who chew the cud like cattle, sheep, goats and deer have a much higher climate impact.”
7. Calm your chattering mind
Thanks to the pandemic, it’s no wonder nearly one in five adults was suffering from some form of depression by mid-2020, double the rate of the previous year. Psychologist Ethan Kross’s new book Chatter (January 26, Ebury) promises to help readers harness their inner voice to prevent them going “down a rabbit hole of negative self-talk and endless rumination”.
Mind coach Don Macpherson calls our negative inner voice the “Monkey Mind” after the Buddhist idea that it is like a monkey, swinging from tree to tree. His book How to Master Your Monkey Mind (January 28, Bantam Press) explains how to “harness” this inner voice through breathing and heightened awareness. “We all need to learn how to tune our brains to be calmer and more relaxed and have a more balanced perspective of Covid-19 going into 2021,” he adds.
8. Mainstream menopause
Previously a taboo subject, celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Meg Mathews are helping make the menopause mainstream this year, according to John Lewis. It predicts a 2021 boom in products to help cope with symptoms, such as supplements, hair removal devices and cooling sprays to deal with hot flushes. Kamwell also predicts menopause technology will be the next big thing, such as the wrist-worn device “Grace” which tracks, predicts and fends off hot flushes via a cooling patch.
9. Get a shedload fitter
Mark Reynolds, founder of WeMakeGyms.com, saw a 30 per cent increase in home gym inquiries this year. Prices start from £2,000; decking out the shed is the logical next step. Forget converting it into a mancave or workspace – the shoffice has been replaced by the shym, at least for Scott Church who, with three twentysomething sons at home during the pandemic, saw an opportunity to get creative. “We just haven’t felt the need to renew our gym memberships,” he explains. Though he admits: “We had to upgrade the roof structure so we could fit a punchbag.”