Looking back at the last few years and the impact of Covid-19, you may not be surprised to learn that the pandemic has also vastly affected shared views on nutrition. The nutrition trends we are now seeing can be linked to Covid-19 and a greater societal focus on the impacts of health and nutrition on our physical and mental wellbeing, in addition to environmentally conscious decisions towards sustainability (Clem & Barthel, 2021).
At Rhodes Wellness College, our Professional Integrative Nutrition Diploma Program is the first of its kind in British Columbia in that it combines nutritional studies, life coaching, and counselling. Not only will you have a competitive edge over others in your field and more tools to help your clients, but as a graduate of RWC, you will also have access to many more career prospects. We believe in a holistic approach, which means that you will learn to assist your clients physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Keep reading to learn about 3 nutrition trends that have emerged in response to the pandemic, which you can expect to see after nutritionist school.
Plant-Based Food: Sales Have Risen 54% to Over a $7 Billion a Year Market
Between 2014 to 2018 there was a 600% increase in the number of Americans who follow a vegan diet (Clem & Barthel, 2021). Additionally, there has been a rise of awareness of lactose intolerance affecting a large portion of people around the world (Silanikove et al., 2015). Furthermore, and most impactful, the impact of Covid-19 created a heightened focus on personal health over the last 3 years, leading to plant-based food sales rising by 54% and bringing the annual worth of the market to over $7.4 billion a year (Ignaszawski, 2022).
As you will learn in nutritionist school, plant-based eating does not necessarily mean becoming vegan or vegetarian. Rather, it refers to ensuring the majority of one’s plate is derived from plants. You may begin to hear the term ‘flexitarian’ or ‘semi-vegetarian’, which refers to a diet that allows the occasional inclusion of meat or fish (Derbyshire, 2017). Studies have shown that following a plant-based diet can prevent and reduce many medical issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure (Tuso et al., 2013).
The quickly growing trend of plant-based eating has led to the improvement of the taste, variety, and nutritional value of mainstream plant-based options (Curtain & Grafanauer, 2019). Innovations also continue to arise in the plant-based space, such as differing plant sources for milk, cheese, and egg alternatives (Clem & Barthel, 2021). In addition, hybrid meat-veggie alternatives are quickly entering the market, where vegetables are substituted for a portion of the meat. The plant-based eating trend is not only quickly and steadily rising in popularity, but for many valid reasons it is here to stay.
Brain Food: The Foods You Eat Can Directly Affect Your Mood and Mental Health
A well-rounded nutritionist course will teach you about the holistic connections between diet and the rest of the body, mind, and soul. Whereas the effects of food on physical health and appearance have been a major topic for decades, the next trend that has gained considerable interest is the relationship between nutrition and mental health. A study of the effects of Covid-19 on food and health decisions found that less people are dieting to lose weight than former years, while more are focused on health benefits of food linked to mental and emotional well-being (2021 Food & Health Survey, 2021).
The ‘Mediterranean Diet’ is one example within this trend that reflects balanced dietary patterns that positively affect the body and brain. This diet includes a high intake of vegetables, fruits, cereals, nuts, legumes, and extra virgin olive oil, with moderate intakes of fish, other meats, and dairy products, and low intakes of eggs, sweets, and other junk food (Davis et al., 2015). It has been found that following a well-balanced diet leads to a lower intake of trans-fats and processed carbohydrates and can increase mood regulation and sleep quality and decrease the risk of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety (Firth et al., 2020).
Planet-First Nutrition: An Environmentally Conscious Focus
The global pandemic not only increased attention to personal physical and mental wellbeing, but it also heightened the focus on the globe’s sustainability and environmental health. The growing concerns and mainstream coverage about global warming and climate change has led to a greater awareness of the direct effects that animal-based foods have on world around us. It is a widely accepted fact that animal-based foods have a greater environmental impact than that of plant-based foods. This is due to the emittance of greenhouse gases and the requirement for a greater amount of land and resources (Graddo et al., 2019). Still, global meat consumption continues to steadily increase due to population growth and development (Whitton et al., 2021).
However, consumers are starting to show a strong trend towards environmentally conscious shopping, and companies within the food and beverage industry are beginning to respond with improvements and transparency of their sustainability measures. As of a large worldwide study published this year, it was found that 55% of people are more likely to choose a product that is labelled with a sustainability claim, while 37% of Americans consciously choose foods dependant on their sustainability (Cargill, 2022). This huge increase in the focus on environmentally conscious and sustainable foods is a definite marker of another trend that you can expect to see after nutritionist school.
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2021 Food & Health Survey. (2021, May 19). International Food Information Council. https://foodinsight.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/IFIC-2021-Food-and-Health-Survey.May-2021-1.pdf
Cargill. (2022, February 3). Research Finds More Consumers Weighing Sustainability Claims on Packaged Food Choices; Cargill. https://www.cargill.com/2022/research-finds-more-consumers-weighing-sustainability-claims
Clem, J., & Barthel, B. (2021). A Look at Plant-Based Diets. Missouri medicine, 118(3), 233–238.
Curtain, F., & Grafenauer, S. (2019). Plant-Based Meat Substitutes in the Flexitarian Age: An Audit of Products on Supermarket Shelves. Nutrients, 11(11), 2603. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11112603
Davis, C., Bryan, J., Hodgson, J., & Murphy, K. (2015). Definition of the Mediterranean Diet; a Literature Review. Nutrients, 7(11), 9139–9153. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7115459
Derbyshire E. J. (2017). Flexitarian Diets and Health: A Review of the Evidence-Based Literature. Frontiers in nutrition, 3, 55. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2016.00055
Firth, J., Gangwisch, J. E., Borisini, A., Wootton, R. E., & Mayer, E. A. (2020). Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing?. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 369, m2382. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2382
Grasso, A. C., Hung, Y., Olthof, M. R., Verbeke, W., & Brouwer, I. A. (2019). Older Consumers’ Readiness to Accept Alternative, More Sustainable Protein Sources in the European Union. Nutrients, 11(8), 1904. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081904
Ignaszewski, E. (2022). @021 U.S. Retail Market Insights Plant-based foods. Good Food Institute. https://gfi.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2021-U.S.-retail-market-insights_Plant-based-foods-GFI.pdf
Silanikove, N., Leitner, G., & Merin, U. (2015). The Interrelationships between Lactose Intolerance and the Modern Dairy Industry: Global Perspectives in Evolutional and Historical Backgrounds. Nutrients, 7(9), 7312–7331. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7095340
Tuso, P. J., Ismail, M. H., Ha, B. P., & Bartolotto, C. (2013). Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. The Permanente journal, 17(2), 61–66. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/12-085
Whitton, C., Bogueva, D., Marinova, D., & Phillips, C. (2021). Are We Approaching Peak Meat Consumption? Analysis of Meat Consumption from 2000 to 2019 in 35 Countries and Its Relationship to Gross Domestic Product. Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 11(12), 3466. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123466