What’s America Eating?

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • A recent article in the January issue of Food Technology magazine, reviewed by the news-gathering source, Newswise, looked at what Americans want to eat, when they eat it, and where they eat it.  Here’s an overview of some of the observations that looked at trends in 2013:


    • In a given day, Americans eat and drink about 14 different items including sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, fizzy drinks, milk, coffee, potatoes, salty snacks, juice and (ready-to-eat) cereals.
    • The most popular chains from the highest grossing are McDonalds, Subway, Starbucks, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, KFC, Chik-fil-a.
    • About 45% of Millenials and 24% of Boomers are following a special diet (high protein, gluten-free, vegan, etc).  One-third of Millenials eat “global cuisine,” while 56% want “something healthy” for their next snack.
    • Snacking accounts for just over 50% of “eating experiences” across all ages.  One in five people eat one snack daily, 24% have three snacks daily, 13% have four snacks, and 4% have five or more snacks per day.
    • Millenials eat around the clock with 12% committed to breakfast, 16% indulging in mid-morning snacks, 15% having a formal lunch, 17% eating a mid-afternoon snack, 18% having a full dinner, and another 20% indulge in an evening snack.
    • Consumers are interested in savory flavors, which includes spicy and tangy, but they are also developing interest in sour and bitter flavors.
    • Consumers are now showing significant interest in hot and spicy sauces, dips and condiments, and seek “bolder flavors.”  Flavors like Chile sauce, cayenne, Sriracha, and habanero and ancho peppers are trending.
    • Specialty cheeses account for more than two thirds of deli sales.  Sales of Gouda, Brie, bleu and goat cheese are on the rise.  Mediterranean and Hispanic cheeses are also a growing trend.  The art of aging cheese is now garnering the interest of many food manufacturers.
    • Meals prepared and eaten in the home – 73% - have held steady since 2012.  Prior to 2012 (2007 through 2012), 70% of meals were prepared and eaten in the home.
    • Half of adults purchased foods in convenience stores. The most popular choices: hot dogs, deli sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, pizza, and a variety of breakfast foods.
    • Forty percent of “specialty food consumers” purchased foods online.
    • About one-third of adults surveyed admit to being “devoted breakfast eaters,” and never miss this meal.

    How would I improve on these statistics as a nutritionist?

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    • Variety is great, but we need to emphasize more servings of healthier, nutritious foods and drinks.  Choose more fruits and vegetables. Choose meat and non-meat based lean proteins, and incorporate Greek yogurt or other healthy calcium-rich products. Drink mostly water, and unsweetened teas. Main meals and snacks should include foods like whole grains, produce, healthy fats and a serving of protein.
    • Fast foods should be considered “treats,” meaning limited frequency of once or twice a week. Brown bag lunch and snacks from home as much as possible. Cook more at home and prepare simple breakfasts like a yogurt, fruit and nuts, or hard-boiled egg with a cup of whole grain cereal and milk.
    • Choose a special diet that is sensible for you and one that emphasizes a variety of nutritious food options.  Gluten-free is not necessarily healthy if you don’t have celiac disease or proven wheat allergies.
    • Consider a Mediterranean-style or flexitarian diet as an overall food guide.
    • Snack smart by combining a portion of protein and a fruit or vegetable – apple wedges and peanut butter, small cube of cheese and vegetables, nuts and a yogurt, baked pita chips and hummus, baked crackers and edamame.
    • Track snacks, since you can end up eating far too many calories by mindlessly snacking throughout the day.
    • Treat high-fat cheese as a “special treat food,” and when using cheese in salads and entrees, consider it a condiment.
    • Do bump up flavor with all kinds of pungent spices – dried and fresh – and limit salt use.
    • Do eat a healthy, nutritious and satiating breakfast every day
    • Consider yourself a food mentor and model if you are a mom, dad or grandparent.


  • Amy Hendel is a Physician Assistant and Health Coach with over 20 years of experience.  Noted author, journalist and lifestyle expert, she brings extensive expertise to her monthly shareposts.  Her most recent book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families is available for purchase online, and you can watch her in action on her shows Food Rescue and What's for Lunch?  Sign up for her daily health tweets or catch her daily news report at www.healthgal.com.

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Published On: February 05, 2014