Around the globe, Covid-19 has changed lifestyles in many ways. One of the most important aspects of an Active Wellness lifestyle is what we eat. We are choosing our foods with more attention to reading labels, understanding what ingredients are in different foods, where they come from and which foods to avoid in order to help maintain Active Wellness and in many instances, simply to survive. There is a new understanding of what and how to eat and drink in order to have a positive effect on stamina, strength and immunity to help fight off threats to optimal health.
The International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2020 Food & Health Survey findings show that 54% of all consumers, and 63% of those 50 and older, care more about the healthfulness of their food and beverage choices in 2020 than they did in 2010.1
The same study shows that active dieting is growing. From 36% of the population dieting in 2018 to 38% in 2019 and 43% in 2020, active dieting will undoubtedly continue to trend as so much weight gain—the reported poundage from Covid-19 from being homebound and less active—will motivate people to lose it.
Working at home is bound to impact our behaviors. Snacking (or grazing throughout the day) has become prevalent. The IFIC survey showed that 26% of U.S. consumers snack several times a day, and another third snack at least once daily, while 38% say they replace meals with snacks (usually lunch) at least occasionally.
As working at home continues into 2021, the forecast is for snacking to continue. In addition, aging baby boomers embrace the snacking trend—as people age, their metabolism slows and the natural response is to eat less at each sitting. Snacking becomes a preferred option. For opposite reasons, children tend to snack because their metabolisms are so fast that they require frequent food intake. While snacks once were linked heavily to junk food, that thinking has changed. Now snacks provide nutritional boosts in busy days.2
The pandemic has intensified the search for immunity-strengthening foods and supplements. A GlobalData survey in June 2020 found that 80% of global consumers are understandably concerned about COVID-19, and 23% admit they’ve stockpiled more vitamins and supplements recently.3
Immune function ties with muscle health/strength as one of the benefits that health-motivated eaters seek from food, as noted by the IFIC data. Much more attention will be given to foods that contain Vitamin C and supplements to boost immunity. These health seekers cited their food-centered objectives as being immune function 40%, weight management 62%, energy 57%, digestive 46% and heart health 44%.4
OnePOll conducted a survey and found 74% of respondents found cooking to be a successful coping mechanism to deal with being homebound.5 Cooking at home will involve the increase in the purchase of fresh and raw ingredients. The trend is to purchase more plant-based proteins such as dry beans, lentils, tofu and ingredients for homemade veggie burgers. The survey found that 28% of Americans eat more proteins from plant sources vs. 2019, 24% eat more plant-based dairy, and 17% eat more plant-based meat alternatives. One of the primary forecasts for the coming years is the growth of the plant-based meat industry.6
Other top trends for 2021 include convenient coffee formats, driven by homebound consumers seeking concentrates, steeped, single-serve bags and edible coffee snacks. Functional products that promote concentration and relaxation also are expected to grow as more brands leverage the benefits of L-Theanine, fruits, botanicals and other natural ingredients.7 Along the same lines, consumers see food products as healthier when they’re free from artificial ingredients, non-GMO, plant-based and have shorter ingredient lists.8
Eating is one of the basic ways we care for ourselves. Changes in food consumption and preparation as well as in other daily activities have us thinking about how we define wellness. Many of the trends mentioned above have been part of the Nikken Active Wellness philosophy for years—transparent labeling practices, organic ingredients, plant-based formulas, immunity-boosting dietary supplements, safe weight-management products and an emphasis on self-care and educating others on the benefits of the Global Wellness Community.