Flourish with Fran March 22

How do you embrace your creative side?

Homemade sushi.

This year an aspiration is to explore and try more hobbies. So far, I have joined a charity walking group, a book club that focuses on nature, food and farming and looking to volunteer at my local gardening group.

A report from the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing suggests that engaging with culture and arts have positive impacts on our quality of life and provides us with the tools to have greater responsibility of our own health and wellbeing.

The benefits of creativity according to the research shows that we can experience improved mood as we learn to express and manage our emotions in a productive way. This is beneficial for those who have experienced trauma and negative emotions. Following on from this if we are creative in a repetitive way such as through painting, drawing, or knitting, we increase our dopamine levels which is a hormone that makes us feel good. If you play a musical instrument or enjoy sitting down with pen and paper to write, then you’ll be experiencing better brain function as you improve connectivity between the left and right part of your brain. As you focus on one task, you enter a positive flow state where you are more mindful and present. This is associated with feelings of happiness.

Now you don’t have to be an artistic genius to experience the benefits of being creative. Art can come in many forms from crafts, dancing, film and photography, literature, cooking, baking and even gardening. This exciting field hosts and embraces concert halls, galleries, heritage sites, libraries, theatres, and museums. There really is something to suit everyone.

Grow your own.

Looking ahead to this year’s food trends.

The pandemic has had a major influence on consumer’s eating and shopping habits. Experts in forecasting foodie trends suggest that we will see a focus on fun foods that entice our senses, support enjoyment, and see a greater focus on carbon miles and transparency over where our food originates from.  

One major trend is an increase in the sale of reduced-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks throughout 2021, a welcome change after the lockdowns saw a dramatic increase in levels of drinking. Many consumers have turned to alcohol-free spirts, prosecco and wines as an alternative to alcohol-based products.

Following on from this, we are continuing to see a rise in plant-based foods, with vegan product sales having increased by 150% according to The Food People 2021 report. As more of us aim to increase our intake of plant-based products, a rise in “flexitarian” or “reducetarianism” eating styles is forecast to rise. Simply this means you reduce the intake of animal products ie meat, dairy, and eggs in your diet. These eating styles allow you to incorporate plant-based foods into your diet without totally giving up animal products.

Continuing with the plant theme, predictions suggest we will see a rise in seeds appearing in our products from spreads, cereal bars, cheeses, and hummus. These tiny seeds pack a punch in terms of providing nutritional benefits to our diets. Other accompaniments to our dishes include fermented foods and vinegars where we have seen a rise in the popularity of kimchi, kombucha and pickled products.

Take charge and pickle your own onions.

More importantly, with new regulations for ultra-processed foods and foods high in fat, salt and sugar coming in April. We will see an important reformulation to these products and particularly products aimed at babies, children, and young people in a bid to manage childhood obesity rates.

It looks like we have a tasty year ahead!

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