It’s no surprise that 2020 was a year unlike any other in recent history. Needless to say, it made a big impact on people’s dietary choices, fitness habits, and self-care priorities. From a focus on supporting immune health and building defenses against age-related illnesses and viruses to having a positive environmental impact, here are five health and wellness trends that are sure to make a big impression in 2021.

The Top 5 Health & Wellness Trends for 2021

Meal Delivery Services

A high percentage of people from around the world experienced a big wake-up call in 2020 when for the first time, they couldn’t simply walk into a grocery store and find everything they wanted. Not to mention, shopping didn’t always feel safe. With essentials like flour, milk, yeast, and even toilet paper flying off of store shelves, more people started ordering groceries, meal kits and other household goods online, which seems to be a trend that will be sticking around in 2021.

Families and single people seem to be prioritizing cooking at home, yet they don’t necessarily have the time (or desire) to shop for all the needed ingredients and to create healthy meal plans. This has contributed to the rise of meal delivery services such as HelloFresh, Splendid Spoon, Freshly, Hungryroot and others, which promise to make cooking both healthier and more convenient without costing considerably more. (Plus, it’s fun!)

Cooking ingredients

2020 saw an increase in people utilizing meal delivery services and kits, which is a trend that is expected to continue into the new year thanks to its ease and convenience.

Another added benefit? These kits often contain sustainable ingredients that are antibiotic- and hormone-free, organic, wild-caught, etc., characteristics that aren’t always easy to source in local stores.

For those who can afford these programs, they’re a great option for keeping the kitchen stocked with nutritious foods. They can also limit food waste — a growing concern for many — since they are pre-portioned.

The act of cooking interesting meals also serves as a fun hobby and entertainment source, which is especially welcomed when more people are spending free time at home. Plus, there’s basically a meal service for every type of eater out there, whether someone follows a low-carb, paleo, vegan or keto diet.

At-Home Fitness Programs

While exercise remains a top priority for many, the fitness landscape underwent some major changes in 2020 that are sure to carry over into 2021. As many gyms and fitness studios closed or reduced their capacity due to COVID-19 concerns, more people were forced to experiment with at-home workouts than ever before. This has led to an increase in streaming services — such as online yoga, Pilates and Zumba classes — as well as an increase in home fitness equipment sales (including the ever-popular indoor Peloton bike). Both trends are on track to continue growing since they offer convenience and price discounts compared to attending classes in person.

RELATED: 10-Minute Workouts You Can Do Anywhere

When it comes to getting in better shape overall, at-home workouts also seem to pair nicely with “self-monitoring” tools, such as fitness trackers like the Fitbit or diet-related apps such as MyFitnessPal.

For those who would rather not follow along with an online class, basic gym equipment that can be kept at home also seems to be on-trend for 2021. Sales of versatile exercise equipment like free weights, cables, medicine balls and kettlebells have all gone up and don’t seem to be falling any time soon considering they are cost-effective, portable and can be used outdoors.

At-home workout, a 2021 health trend

With the rise in virtual fitness classes, home workout equipment, and fitness trackers, it’s no wonder at-home workouts are another health trend expected to crossover into the new year.

Sustainable & Plant-Based Diets

Although certain low-carb diets, such as the ketogenic diet and paleo diet, have remained popular over the past couple of years, plant-based diets — including vegetarian, flexitarian and vegan diets that involve the avoidance of most animal products — continue to gain a massive following.

RELATED: What Eating a Plant-Based Diet REALLY Means

There are several reasons why plant-based diets don’t seem to be slowing down — including the fact that people are paying closer attention to the environmental impact of their choices. This is because diets free of animal products tend to include more “functional foods” and are often less expensive. Food costs being a bigger concern leads many to opt for less pricey plant-based protein options over meat and fish, such as beans/legumes, tofu, ancient grains, vegan protein powders and veggie burgers. Reports also show people are changing their views on big brands and making an effort to shop for more locally produced, organic and sustainable foods that have a less negative impact on both the economy and environment.

More than ever, the average consumer seems to be focused on reading food labels carefully, understanding what ingredients are in their foods, knowing where their food comes from, and knowing which foods to avoid. Similarly, natural/clean beauty products (free of potentially harmful chemicals) have also become uber-trendy for the same reasons, drawing in those concerned about only using safe and often vegan/cruelty-free products on their skin.

Toast with avocado spread and spinach

Interest in sustainable, plant-based diets are expected to rise even more this year, as more people pay close attention to the environmental impacts of their food choices and shop more for locally sourced goods.

Immune-Boosting Supplements

In the face of COVID-19, many adults are making a strong effort to live an overall healthier lifestyle. Many “anti-viral toolkits” include the use of supplements that can help support the immune systems and potentially have anti-aging and anti-stress effects. Examples of such immune-supporting supplements include essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C and zinc, adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, functional mushrooms like reishi and cordyceps, and herbs like echinacea. These are known to help buffer against the effects of pathogens, chronic inflammation and chronic stress.

Tied to immune health, there’s also increased focus on gut health and supporting one’s microbiome, especially since this also pertains to mental health. The use of probiotics will likely continue to be trendy in 2021, as well as supplements like collagen protein that can support gut integrity and digestive health.

Vitamins and supplements, a health trend in 2021

The use of vitamins and supplements is expected to rise in 2021, especially as we continue to pay close attention to our immune systems.

RELATED: Top Health Myths, Busted!

Focus on Mood-Lifting/Stress-Reducing Habits

Facing issues like unemployment, school closings and medical emergencies, people are under a great deal of emotional stress and looking for ways to improve their ability to cope. The connection between one’s “mood and food” and the relationship between their stress levels and overall health has become much more apparent to adults in recent years. For example, more people are now focused on improving their sleep patterns by creating relaxing “bedtime routines” that might involve aromatherapy, journaling and the use of supplements like melatonin and magnesium, and herbs like ashwagandha and CBD.

Additionally, there’s an increased interest in nutrient-dense foods, supplements and beverages that can have a significant effect on one’s stamina, mood, strength, and immunity to fight off viruses and other health concerns — such as “superfood” green powders, collagen protein powders, bone broth, nootropics such as L-theanine, and “detox drinks” made with ingredients like apple cider vinegar and lemon.

Woman with celebratory hands in air

After a year filled with so many challenges, an increase in mood-boosting habits, such as enjoyable workouts and stable bedtime routines, is on the horizon for 2021.

Here’s to a healthy 2021!

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