The Economic Research Service at USDA has compiled some information regarding current eating habits in the U.S. We do appear to be eating better, or at least trying to eat better. Specifically:
- We are taking note of nutrition information, at least some of the time when it’s available, especially on food packages
- We are consuming fewer calories from fat, specifically saturated fat
- We are consuming less cholesterol from foods
- We are eating more fiber
Researchers found that 76 percent of adults polled said they would use nutrition information in restaurants, if it was available. It was also noted that there has been a decline in food consumed away from home, partially due to financial influences, which in turn means that the opportunity for more home-cooked meals and family meals is a possible goal to aim for. In addition, the report noted a positive change (3 percent) since 2007 among working-age adults, with regards to their perceptions about weight ownership. They beleive they do have the ability to change their body, especially when it comes to losing weight. Working-age adults also seemed more inclined to recognize the importance of food’s nutritional value, and not just price or convenience, when making food purchases.
So the bigger question is how do you personally factor into these findings? Here are some questions you should be asking yourself to improve your food habits:
1. Are you spending any time browsing food labels and reading the ingredients and taking note of the amount and kinds of fats, whether there is significant added sugars and whether the food has a lot of chemical additives?
2. Are you being lured by front-of-the-label terms like "high fiber" or "source of whole grains" or "fortified with certain vitamins"?
3. Do you create any sort of planned menus to follow during the day, so you adhere to a certain calorie count?
5. Do you pay attention to words like "fried" versus "baked?"
6. Do you eat healthy snacks?
7. Are you cooking meals at home on a regular basis, and trying to join together as a family for meals?
8. Are you following the guidelines recommending that you eat less salt?
9. Have you kicked the soda habit?
Answering some of these questions may help to nudge you and your family to better eating habits and a more nutritious and less-processed diet.
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.