As we start the new year, what will be your personal health and nutrition trends? Good news for Americans is a new study finding that we are more aware of what we eat and we’re striving to adopt healthier lifestyles.
The study released last week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found Americans are consuming fewer calories and cutting back on fast food, cholesterol and fat. In fact, working-age adults report consuming an average of 127 fewer calories daily than we did during the 2009-2010 period four years ago. The study also found we are eating more home-cooked meals and reading nutrition labels more often when perusing grocery store aisles.1
So what are the most popular nutrition trends shaping our eating habits this year? Here is a look at the top diet trends of 2014, courtesy of Environmental Nutrition.2
- Sustainability – The conversation around sustainability is going even further this year. Local foods, grass-fed and game meats, eco-friendly packaging, urban farms, sustainable seafood and cutting food waste are expected to drive consumers’ purchasing decisions.
- Protein – Protein is top-of-mind this year, thanks to recent studies that point out we may need more protein in our diets to maintain energy, muscle and bone strength and a balanced diet. Look for lean meats and poultry, seafood, eggs, nonfat dairy and beans.
- Omega-3 – The popularity of omega-3s keeps increasing. It’s become the most common vitamin and mineral supplement in the U.S. Consumers are purchasing more omega-3-rich foods, such as salmon, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds, as well as omega-3 fortified foods, found in milks, juices, breads, spread and cereals.
- Dairy-Free Drinks – Milk from non-dairy sources – soy, rice, almonds – are appearing more and more at grocery stores, and in a variety of flavors. You may soon see this trend move beyond milk and into other dairy products like cheese and whipped cream.
- Sodium – In response to consumer demand, food manufacturers are making strong efforts to reduce sodium content, as sodium intake is finally a huge mainstream concern. The American Heart Association recommends that we aim toward 1,500 mg sodium daily to protect our vessels and heart. Gradual decreases in the sodium content of many foods have been on-going for the past decade to help us adjust our taste buds.
- “Clean” Eating – It’s back to basics for Americans. There is increased interest in products that are whole – closer to nature – and have fewer ingredients. Americans are opting for foods without preservatives, antibiotics and genetically modified ingredients. At restaurants, “homemade” pastas, in-house cured meat or salmon, artisan breads and cheeses, simple foods, varied vegetables and new grains in salads, are gaining customer interest.
- Sugar – People are making stronger efforts to avoid and limit sugar consumption. Natural (stevia, honey, agave) and low-calorie manufactured sweeteners are gaining popularity, while experts say more research may need to be done on these sweeteners.
- Gluten-Free – Gluten-free foods for health or purported weight loss are gaining grocery store space, as are gluten-free diet books. The truth is, however, gluten-free eating helps those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, and there is no evidence that supports benefits for those without these conditions.
- Global Flavors – Americans are becoming more adventurous eaters, with Mid-Eastern and Mediterranean foods on the rise. These foods often offer great health benefits, including more whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts, spices, and seasonings. Keep your eyes peeled for these global food options from dips to frozen entrees.
- Meat-Free Options – Consumers want quick, convenient, tasty ways to add more veggies to mealtime these days, and stores are responding with pre-cut vegetables and vegetable mixes ( stir-fry, stew, etc.) as well as complete salad kit packages (with nuts, protein, and dressings). For those opting for meatless meals, there is also a big variety of meat-free options at supermarkets, including tofu, seitan and soy-based options.
For more ideas on healthy eating and quick meals , check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009) or contact me for individual counseling. My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:http://www.georgiakostas.com.
This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.
1 U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2014) “American Adults are Choosing Healthier Foods, Consuming Healthier Diets.” http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2014/01/0008.xml&contentidonly=true
2 Environmental Nutrition. (2014)“Top Diet Trends of 2014.” http://www.environmentalnutrition.com