Food and nutrition apps: Menus, online ordering, group discount rates, recipes, product information… you name it and there is likely be an app for it. Many restaurants and chefs are more social-media savvy, creating apps to educate people on food and nutrition. The appetite for trading in old phones for smart phones will continue to grow. That means more app development for iPhones and Androids, particularly in the popular food space.
Mini meals: Supersizing is so yesterday! Today, fast-food restaurants offer mini versions of popular meals. More customers are attracted to smaller and healthier meals in an effort to whittle their waistlines. Retailers who implement these strategies will see increases in sales as more Americans are likely to visit restaurants that offer more healthful options. This allows the consumer to eat less and save more. Leading fast-food retailers are becoming more health conscious by adding fruit smoothies to their menu and cutting portions in kid’s meals.
Less salt, more flavor: Demand for healthier foods will continue to grow. More and more people are recognizing the importance of nutrition and the consequences that eating poorly has on their health. When the 2010 Dietary Guidelines were released early this year, it was recommended that sodium be limited to 1500 mg/day for anyone over age 51, as well as anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes and more. For everyone else, the recommendation is 2300 mg sodium/day. There is now more of an emphasis on using herbs and spices such as pepper, basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and chili powder in place of salt.
MyPlate Guidelines: The new American food icon was launched at the beginning of the summer to help Americans add more balance to their diets. MyPlate symbolizes what you should put on your plate: ½ fruits and vegetables, ¼ grains, ¼ proteins and dairy. Eating this way, in addition to being physically active, will go far in helping you live a healthier, happier life.
Eggs: Hurrah for eggs! Eggs are back off the black list and we’re actually encouraged to eat them again. Nutrient-dense and a source of high-quality protein, eggs give your meal staying power. New research confirms that the cholesterol contained in egg yolk has very little effect on blood cholesterol in adults, so even if you are watching your levels, it’s okay to fit an occasional egg into your diet.
Greek Yogurt: With sales up 200 percent since 2010, Greek yogurt is definitely booming. Many people have realized the wonderful benefits Greek yogurt can have on our bodies. It not only contains twice as much protein as regular yogurt, but it’s a great way to increase your calcium consumption. Plus, the thick texture can help satisfy your hunger.
Whole grains: As of August of 2011, the whole-grain stamp is now on more than 5800 food products. Recent reports indicate that in 2010 there were almost 20 times as many whole-grain products introduced worldwide as in 2000. This shift has growing trend written all over it. A diet rich in whole grains has been linked to a variety of health benefits including maintaining body weight and lowering the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Whole grains are also a great source of fiber and other nutrients such as selenium and magnesium.
Sustainability: A natural and clean trend is taking the U.S. by storm. People are beginning to plant more vegetable gardens in their backyards and we have seen an influx of natural and organic grocery stores popping up all around the country. People are looking to be more cost effective in their own lives. People are also beginning to look for restaurants that use the same sustainable processes in preparing foods and those that offer foods that are more earth friendly. Buying local is also a trend that is beginning to catch on in an effort for people to “Go Green.”
Better school lunches: Dramatic shifts have been made over the past year in improving the quality of school lunches, thanks in part to First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to fight childhood obesity. Last year’s reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act set better standards for school food all over the country and also increased the number of children eligible for free or reduced price meals. We will continue to see this trend in 2012 as schools continue to reform how food is sourced, prepared and served to our children.
Gluten Free: Today, experts estimate that 3 million Americans (about 1 percent of the population) have celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that makes gluten (a protein found in wheat), barley and rye damaging to the lining of the small intestine. However, the gluten-free diet has become a growing trend among millions of Americans convinced that they too feel better if they go gluten free even if they haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease.
Milk and flavored milk: Milk is packed with nutrition and contains essential nutrients including calcium and vitamin D. Since many of us are deficient in these two nutrients, look for a huge push to increase milk consumption in 2012. Milk will make a big comeback with kids and adults this next year, despite debates about flavored milk. Milk helps build healthy teeth and strong bones. Cereal combined with fat-free milk is a great vehicle for encouraging milk consumption.
Meatless Mondays: The Meatless Monday movement is growing quickly. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will. This trend has gained popularity over the past year and is expected to grow into 2012. This campaign was launched in 2003 in association with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, with the mission of getting Americans to cut their meat consumption by 15 percent. Celebrities are taking the pledge and even cities like San Francisco and public schools in Baltimore and Oakland have adopted Meatless Mondays. Going meatless can help reduce saturated fat in the diet by 15 percent and help prevent chronic health problems.