How the Pandemic Is Changing American Diets, According to Nutrition Experts

The global pandemic has changed all aspects of normal living, and ushered in an era where health and wellness are paramount decision drivers for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to food and beverage choices.

The 2021 Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey, with 1,165 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) responding, provides an in-depth look at how dietitians believe consumers’ diets have changed due to COVID-19.

The health revolution has exploded as a result of the pandemic, with the top findings for 2021 revealing a focus on foods that support immunity and provide comfort, as well as a major shift in snacking habits.

COVID-19 Transformed the Way Consumers Eat and View Food

As a result of the pandemic, 78% of RDNs believe that consumer eating habits are shifting away from the traditional 3 meals a day to more frequent snacking. In addition, with anxiety about health, wellness and the challenging economy looming in consumers’ minds, RDNs predict the top purchase drivers of 2021 will be foods and beverages that:

Support immunity

Are affordable and value-based

Promote comfort and emotional well-being

Top 10 Superfoods for 2021

With COVID-19 accelerating the healthy food revolution, foods and beverages with strong health and wellness benefits, sometimes referred to as “superfoods,” have become dominant in consumer choices to help support immunity. From boosting gut health with fermented foods to reaping the benefits of antioxidants with blueberries and blunting inflammation with green tea, here are the top 10 superfoods that RDNs predict consumers will be seeking in 2021:

1. Fermented foods, like yogurt & kefir

2. Blueberries

3. Green Tea

4. Exotic fruit, like acai, golden berries

5. Seeds, such as chia and hemp

6. Avocados

7. Spinach & leafy greens

8. Kale

9. Nuts

10. Salmon

Intermittent Fasting Ousts King Keto as the #1 Diet Trend

COVID-19 has made consumers more aware than ever of how food affects their ability to help fight and prevent disease. With this knowledge, consumers are seeking out diets that will help promote a healthy immune system and help them live longer, healthier lives.

Intermittent fasting, suggested to enhance cellular renewal, has pushed out the ketogenic diet as the nation’s top diet trend for 2021.

It’s clear that consumers are being more mindful of their eating habits and realize that what they eat, or don’t eat, affects how they feel and how long they live.

In addition, RDNs predict consumers will be looking for these top three popular ingredients in 2021 and beyond:

1. CBD

2. Collagen

3. Hemp

Top 5 Nutrition Recommendations from RDNs

Consistent with previous years, the 2021 survey showed that social media, friends/family, and celebrities remain the top sources of nutrition misinformation for consumers. And nutrition experts continue to stand by these tried and true health and wellness eating tips for 2021:

1. Eat more servings of vegetables per day

2. Limit highly processed foods or fast foods

3. Limit foods with “added sugars”

4. Increase fiber intake

5. Choose non-caloric drinks, like unsweetened tea and coffee

Pollock Communications is a New York City-based, independent, full-service food, health, and wellness public relations agency launched in 1991.

Today’s Dietitian is the leading independent source for news, information, research, and industry trends among the nation’s influential community of nutrition professionals.

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