McKel (Hill) Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel (Hill) Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder

It’s the New Year! Hooray. But, again we’re going to be flooded with the media telling us we should be doing this diet, this lifestyle, you’ll be reading countless blogs (well, now including this one), magazine outlets, TV shows, news programs, “guru” blogs, etc. telling what you “should” be doing this year in 2016. Let’s get real about the true wellness trends in 2016 that I’d like all of us to collectively get behind and make a trend, NS style.

So what does it take to make a trend? Buzz, a following, massive amounts of people talking about it- so why not it be us! We have a huge community of you spanning the globe practicing the NS lifestyle, so let’s start creating a movement to a simpler style of living, living whole and eating well. Starting with some of the Top Wellness Trends for 2016, some of them being trends we should start collectively and some of them my personal predictions for this new year:

No. 1

Greens. More greens.

I’m not just talking about dark leafy greens, but actual greens that we routinely don’t use like matcha green tea, seaweed, algae, or for those of you new to the NS way of eating, then of course those dark leafy greens. Matcha is one of my favorites for it’s high content of antioxidants and small amounts of caffeine, seaweed like nori, kelp, dulse, etc. are great for our metabolisms and keeping our thyroids healthy and happy due to their rich content of iodine and minerals. Algaes like spirulina and chlorella are nutrient and protein powerhouses. All of these can be incorporated into your diet with ease, check out some of these recipes to help you explore:

Matcha: Matcha Tea Latte, Green Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, and Popcorn 4 Ways
Algae: Tropical Tango Smoothie, Spirulina Globes, and Blue-Green Spirulina Milk
Seaweed: Veggie Sushi Rolls, Epic Thai Spring Rolls, and Avocado Shallot Dip (with kelp sprinkled on top)

No. 2

Mindfulness and Meditation

If meditating seems too “hippy” or discovering your spirituality is new to you, or “freaks you out” as some say, take it slow. Mediation doesn’t have to be spiritual for you at all, it can be a means to rest your mind and hey, science has shown the powerful effects of mediation on our brain health, stress management, and general wellbeing. Meditation is the one thing I can rely on to immediately make me feel centered, grounded, and in tune with my emotions– not running away from them even if it’s sadness or happiness but completely befriending them to the point of dissolve and acceptance. Strip away all the nonsense and just be. It’s powerful, encouraging, and I’ll never have a day without it.

No. 3

Self-care and radical self-love

I brought this up a couple weeks ago in my post all about Self Care and Why You Should Do It, but otherwise it’s pretty self-explanatory right? Taking care of yourself is so important and cultivating a daily ritual and routine of doing so will help you become a more mindful being throughout the day, more passionate, energetic, and it’ll help you reach your health goals. Trust me, more stress = decreased overall health. Practice some of these positive mantras I shared in my blog post about “the one reason you’re not at your happy weight“. I’ve received many questions about morning routines as the ultimate act of self-care, so I’ll be posting my exact morning routine in hopes that it’ll inspire you to create your own.

No. 4

Nature, more of it.

Grounding, going barefoot, breathing in fresh air, hiking, climbing trees, propelling mountains, swimming with sea turtles…okay, I might’ve gone a little overboard on that last one, but you get my point. Being in nature, the way we were born and adapted for centuries ago, still plays a vital role in our human experience! We need the balance of nature to combat all the sitting at desks, typing on computers, reading from your screen (like you’re doing right now), and in general having space from electronics. For me, I try to walk at least 20 minutes a day outside, even if it’s around my neighborhood, ideally at the park for a good hour. What could be a couple of ways you could squeeze more nature time into your day?

No. 5

Gut health baby

We all know about kimchi and fermented foods right? I hope this trend soaks in and it becomes a norm for households over the US especially (some of your countries are already ahead of the game on this one). Not just utilizing typical vegetables we think of with kimchi like cabbage, carrots, and ginger root but expanding outside the box and using kale, broccoli, beets, stems, roots, etc. I had the beautiful experience last spring when I hosted a wellness retreat with my good friends at Blackberry Farm here in TN and one of the head chefs first introduced me to this concept of utilizing the small bits of dark leafy greens, broccoli stems, and all those little “extras” we typically compost. Why not ferment them into a beautiful gut healing mix!? Incorporating fermented foods on a daily basis is a great way to ensure you’re feeding your digestive system with the good guys, i.e. probiotics. If you need a little primer on probiotics, check out this post.

No. 6

Being your own health advocate

This is something I’ve always believed in yet doesn’t get as much traction because, well, it’s not as “sexy” as following a juice cleanse, or doing the XYZ diet, or following what diet Gisele Bundchen does but guess what…it’s the only one that works. Finding how YOUR body works is the only way YOU can become the greatest and healthiest version of yourself; it might take some time, patience, experimenting with different lifestyles, but ultimately always coming back to your center and asking yourself- how am I doing right now? Is this lifestyle working for me or am I just following suit because I saw this person on Instagram or I follow this blog and that’s what they said to do. I could rant on this topic for a while, but ultimately you know your body best. Listen to it, it’s a beautiful thing. If you have no idea where to start or how to listen in and what to look for, that’s what I’m here for– as a dietitian I coach on this every day and am happy to help you.

No. 7

Wellness Spas

And thank goodness this is becoming a trend. Who doesn’t love a spa? Now wellness spas are popping up all over the place from travel and health retreats focused on your wellbeing, teaching you how to cook healthy, doing yoga on beaches, practicing mindfulness in the mountains, it’s incredible! This is a trend I hope sticks around because it celebrates the act of “self care”. The downside, the expense. You can still create a spa at home with my tips and this is something I try to do weekly, but if you can, save and plan for a special wellness spa trip! I have an amazing retreat coming up in July with Albion Fit in Utah and another retreat coming up in August with the amazing team of Blackberry Farm and we’re doing an awesome wellness retreat (more details soon– they’ll be on the event page!).

No. 8

Travel, and healthy travels!

This is not only a personal goal and trend of mine for 2016, but traveling is becoming a lot easier to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Again, with retreats, resorts, and now even destination packages all about health and wellness. It’s inspiring. Traveling also allows us to get outside of our norm and push the boundaries of what we think is comfortable; trying new foods, learning a new language, respecting another culture in the way they live, visiting world wonders, it’s all incredibly grounding when you realize at the core we’re all in this together. You can still travel healthy wherever you go, as long as you practice and plan ahead. AND, if traveling isn’t in your schedule this year, how can you make these concepts of travel stick in your own life? Maybe it’s reading about a different culture to expand your perspective, trying ethnic cuisines, or learning a new language? P.S., learn how to stay healthy while traveling with my Healthy Travels ebook.

No. 9

Foods: adaptogens, mushrooms, and the like

First kale, watercress, then turmeric, and now…mushrooms? Yep! At least, this is my personal forecast for the food trend and I haven’t been wrong thus far. I shared several recipes last year about medicinal mushrooms and powdered adaptogens for helping our bodies combat stress, fight inflammation, beat free radicals, increase cellular health, bringing oxygen throughout our body and much more. Check out my post on The Ultimate Tonic for details on my favorite mushrooms like chaga, reishi, shiitake, king oyster, cordyceps, maitake, etc. As far as adaptogens, my favorites are holy basil as a tea or tincture and ashwagandha in powdered form added to smoothies or the recipes below. As far as other foods in this category I feel will have a comeback…MCT oil. One of my favorite “foods” that I got into last year by adding it to Matcha Tea Lattes and the Coffee, Elevated. You can read more about MCT oils and what those are in this post and where to buy them in this one.

Try these recipes: The Ultimate Tonic, Coffee Elevated, Assorted Raw Chocolates, Mood Boosting Chocolate Smoothie

No. 10

Natural beauty and the literal no-make up, make up

Another trend I’m hoping we can all champion and manifest! This is something I personally practice and preach, I’m a huge believer in the power of letting your skin breath and getting used to wearing very minimal make up. Letting our natural beauty shine out from the foods we put in, our lifestyles, and what we do with our skin from the outside. Check out my skincare routine for the face and the body for inspiration. If you guys are interested, I’d be happy to share my makeup routine/what’s in my bag- let me know!

A note on trends I’m happy to see go this year…

I asked the members of NS Society yesterday, we had a chat on wellness trends and I loved reading comments about which ones they were happy to see go and I gotta recap some of these!

  • that 6-packs = health
  • juice cleanses (I’m all about green juices, but not “cleanses”)
  • the word “clean eating” ugh. That’s the one term I never use because of the emotional weight it can carry with some people
  • being “busy” for the sake of being busy. Let’s chill and live in the moment.


What trends are you happy to see go from 2015? Are there specific topic about health and wellness trends you want me to Myths Stripped? Let me know below!

What does wellness look like to you this year? Sign up for the Nutrition Stripped Society today and get a yearly membership with healthy meal plans, fitness videos, exclusive recipes and cooking videos, and an amazing community.

xx McKel

p.s. we’re still getting acclimated with the new site so thank you for your patience with little kinks working themselves out here and there!

Photography @kelseycherry