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. Changes to the top 10 superfoods list also indicate a move toward foods that are plant-forward and support health, with green tea, a natural anti-inflammatory beverage, jumping from #10 last year to the #3 spot this year, and nutrient-rich spinach and leafy greens making their debut on the list. As consumers continue to search for diets that promote well-being and longevity, intermittent fasting surpasses the ketogenic diet as the #1 diet trend dietitians predict for 2021, and RDNs forecast consumers will be on the hunt for natural, clean labels and ingredients like cannabidiol (CBD), collagen and hemp. Here’s a look at the full results.
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:
“A year full of staying home and cooking more has influenced consumers to rethink their food and nutrition choices. In 2020, the food and beverage industry saw sales increases in products like green tea, as well as renewed attention on comforting, tried and true foods like dairy milk and healthy, fermented foods like yogurt,” says Louise Pollock, President of Pollock Communications. “The plant-forward trend continues to grow, as does demand for clean labels. Our trends survey findings reflect these significant changes caused by COVID-19 that will continue to affect eating habits and the food industry for years to come.”
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:
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:
- Eat more servings of vegetables per day
- Limit highly processed foods or fast foods
- Limit foods with “added sugars”
- Increase fiber intake
- Choose non-caloric drinks, like unsweetened tea and coffee
“We are witnessing unprecedented times in the world of nutrition, health and wellness,” says Mara Honicker, publisher of Today’s Dietitian. “As the world grapples with how to best manage health and longevity, consumer awareness of beneficial diets and ingredients is growing, and they will be looking to RDNs and the food industry to help navigate these shifting needs.”