Reasons to Try New Specialty Foodsby Ani Manukian, RDN, LD
Whether you’re trying to eat healthier or manage your weight, or you’re making changes due to a health condition, starting a specialty diet often involves eating new foods. And that’s exciting! Going into it with a positive attitude and open mind will help make the transition easier, while also letting you have fun along the way. What’s more, trying specialty foods offers some bonus health benefits.
Here are three perks to piling new foods on your plate:
1. Increasing nutrient variety
One of the major keys to good health, if not THE major key, is nutrition. We need a variety of foods in the right amounts to achieve and maintain health. But it’s easy to get stuck in our ways and cycle through the same staple foods, leaving us burned out and potentially missing adequate intake of vital nutrients.
Trying new foods can boost our nutrient variety and therefore our health. Some experts recommend aiming to eat 100 different foods throughout the year, letting the season guide our choices.
2. Expanding your palate
At Kroger, we believe in eating and enjoying nutritious food – and bringing fun to the table as often as possible, too. Checking out the latest specialty foods helps us do just that. From veggie-stuffed wraps to sparkly probiotic drinks to colorful lentil pasta, specialty foods introduce new textures, colors and flavors that spice up our go-to meals or provide inspiration for entirely new adventures in the kitchen.
3. Embracing healthy change
It’s normal to be curious, especially about hot topics like the latest nutrition trend or diet. Assessing our own diets through a new lens and adapting some aspects of a diet trend can help bring about positive change.
For example, the plant-based trend is at a peak, and it offers legitimate benefits. Plant-based foods can, in fact, pack a protein punch. This diet is also known to have a positive impact on the environment. But note: you don’t have to cut out meat entirely to reap the benefits of plant-based eating. Often, what holds us back from our best health is polarization – thinking we must commit to one diet or way of doing things.
As dietitians, we generally believe that dogma creates disconnect from food and our bodies, which may undermine health benefits of a certain diet in the long-term, and possibly set us back physically and mentally due to the stress of restriction. When we break up the black-and-white thinking, we become open to the many positive attributes that each trend, diet or lifestyle brings to the table.
Additional benefits of specialty foods
- Choosing plant-based foods – whether a black bean burger or new type of nut milk – can, not surprisingly, bring more plants (and their stellar nutrition profiles!) into your diet.
- Trying paleo products will open your eyes to no-sugar-added alternatives to products typically laden with hidden and not-so-hidden sugars (such as nut butters, granola and granola bars).
- Keto products can help us achieve a better macronutrient balance by providing more carb-smart alternatives to classically starchy foods. For example, you might choose zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta or lettuce cups instead of tortillas.
The bottom line
Eating more plants, reducing our sugar intake and eating the right amounts of carbs for our bodies are worthy goals we should all aim for. But we don’t need to be full-on vegan, paleo or keto to implement these changes. Choosing specialty foods popularized by different diet trends can improve our nutrition and overall health, without requiring a complete diet overhaul.
At the end of the day, enjoying food, creating community and connection around meals, and having fun in the kitchen are important factors in addition to nutrient intake, and eating new specialty foods can kick start and contribute to this kind of social and emotional nourishment.