Food Trends: We’re eating more of these 10 foods

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With all the Main Stream Media hype about super foods, local eating and diet fads, it’s easy to imagine that everyone is following these allegedly healthy dictates.  So why aren’t you?  If you’re feeling slightly guilty about your dietary failures, take heart.  The NPD Group has released the 29th edition of “Eating Patterns in America” and the report tells an extremely different story about what people are actually eating.  It isn’t spelt or kale smoothies.

The report lists the foods and drinks that have increased the most in our diets between 2004 and 2014.  We’re eating more at home, but that doesn’t mean we’re cooking.  Rather, people are relying on ready-to-eat foods.  According to NPD, the Top 10 Foods that have increased the most in our diets are:

10. Pancakes up 5.3%.  Nutritional consequences: pancakes are typically eaten with a generous coating of sugar syrup.  Even if it’s low sugar syrup (ugh!), the pancakes themselves are typically high carbohydrate with modest or low protein.  They may be cooked in added fat and topped with butter or margarine.  And unless they’re made with whole wheat flour, they’re low fiber.

9. Chips up 6.1%.  Seriously people?  You needed more chips?

8. Frozen sandwiches up 6.2%.  This might not sound terrible, but the accompanying photo is of ice cream sandwiches.  In which case people are eating more sugar and fat.

7. Bars up 6.7%.  No surprise here.  A trip to the average grocery store shows the bar aisle expanding to infinity.  It’s hard to even focus on them, there are so many choices.  With few exceptions, they’re glorified candy bars with a health halo because the label says “granola” or “nuts” or “energy”.  They’re just more processed convenience food, in individual packages.

6. Fresh fruit up 7%.  At last!  Something to feel positive about.

5. Mexican food up 8.3%.  Mexican-style food is delicious and certainly there are plenty of variations, some healthier than others.  If I thought people were eating soft tacos with seasoned meat, fresh veggies and salsa I’d be happy.  But more likely most of this increase is smothered burritos loaded with cheese and sour cream, or hard shell tacos filled with greasy meat, cheese and sour cream.

4. Poultry Sandwiches up 8.3%.  This is a lot like the Mexican food category.  You can find grilled chicken sandwiches at most fast food restaurants now.  You can also find breaded fried poultry sandwiches, which are higher fat and calorie.  Which is it?  And what are people eating with their poultry sandwiches?  French fries or a green salad?

3. Pizza up 9.6%.  Can pizza go anywhere but up?  No information about the pizza toppings, but other surveys show that pepperoni is very popular.  And most commercial pizzas are not the thin crust/wood fired oven type, rather the doughy varieties, loaded with cheese and meat.

2. Bottled water up 10.7%.  I’m not sure what to make of this, as I’d heard that bottled water was getting a bad rep due to all the plastic bottle waste.  Maybe that was just a rumor.  It’s a Good News/Bad News sort of statistic.  Better that people are drinking water; not so great that we have all this plastic bottle waste.  Not to mention the vast amount of energy consumed manufacturing those bottles and then driving truckloads of bottled water all over the country to warehouses and stores.  The environmental concerns are not just about the empty bottle.

1. Ta Da!  Yogurt up 12.5%.  Of course, the term ‘yogurt’ can mean a lot of things, from the sugar-sweetened stuff thickened up with additives and loaded with candy bits to plain unsweetened Greek style yogurt.  But it’s at least encouraging.  And frankly not surprising.  The yogurt display cases probably take up more space than even the bar aisle at this point.

The nutritionally significant winner?  Clearly the fresh fruit.  Bottled water, yogurt and poultry sandwiches are maybe-sort-of good news.  That leaves 6 foods that are typically high calorie/high fat and very easy to over-eat.

Also interesting: many hyped foods are not on this list: salmon, bacon, vegetables in general, whole grain bread, gluten-free stuff, plant “milks” like soy and coconut.  So if you’ve been feeling guilty because you don’t drink kale smoothies or eat gluten-free spelt pasta or some other trendy super food, relax.  Have some pizza.  Hopefully a veggie flat-bread style pizza.  Accompanied by bottled water, followed up with some fresh grapes.  You’ll be the trendy one.

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