The Rise of Healthy Eating in the US, and Where We Are Headed

I think it’s safe to say that everybody has noticed the rise of one very specific trend over the last few years: healthy eating. There are more healthy food options in stores, restaurants, and vending machines than ever before. And people have been choosing these options much more— especially on the internet. But what led to this increase? And where is it headed? 

The history of healthy eating is somewhat long and convoluted, so we won’t be going through everything. Instead, we’ll look at a few of the larger factors behind its growth in popularity, and some of the ways it is expected to continue growing. 

There are many, many factors behind the growing popularity of healthy food choices, but there are two that really stick out, so we’ll start with those. 

1. Awareness 

As more people become aware of what is in their food, more people choose healthier options. It makes sense, right? And that’s one of the big driving forces behind this cultural change: awareness. 

In recent years, food labels have had to be much more transparent with what they contain, and we have also seen an increase in healthier alternatives. This makes it easier for people to choose foods that fit their needs or wants, and therefore, to choose healthier foods. 

Along with the growing awareness of what is in our food, more and more people have an awareness of the benefits of healthy eating. It is talked about on television, on the news, in books, and, most importantly, online. Which brings us to the second factor. 

2. The internet and influencers 

Influencers have been credited as being a large, if not the biggest, driving force behind this growing trend. As more people became aware, those with a large online following were able to not only make choices for themselves, but to share those choices with millions of others. 

A lot of social media influencers seem to talk about healthy eating, and there are blogs all over the internet centered specifically around that topic. Then, the millions of people who follow those influencers or read those blogs are exposed to the idea, and are more likely to make healthy food choices for themselves. 

Clearly, influencers hold a lot of sway over popular culture, and over healthy eating in particular. Now that we know a bit more about how this trend has come to be, let’s look at what that means for us in the coming years. 

Europe 

Remember when we said we were going to talk about the rise of healthy eating in the US? Well, we can’t do that without mentioning Europe, because it’s growing even faster there. 

You may remember from last week that Europe has had a huge boom in the farm vending machines industry. But that’s not all. In fact, over the next four years, Europe is expected to put out 32% of the world’s growth in the healthy eating market. 

And it’s not just market growth. More and more people are choosing healthy foods in Europe, because of increased awareness, a change in culture, and influencers. These changes reflect onto the US, too, especially with influencers, because many European celebrities can have millions of American followers. 

A slow change 

In the US, things have clearly been changing as well. The healthy food market was expected to grow by 6% this year alone, and in the past five years, more than two thirds of Americans have shifted their diets to include more healthy eating practices. 

But the change is happening much slower on this side of the Atlantic. 34% of Americans say that they want to shift to healthier eating in the next five years, but many people still aren’t doing it right now. 

More than 80% of US households purchase low fat, sugar free, and/or organic foods every year. That’s good, right? Well, turns out, most households make these purchases less than three times per month, sometimes only once per month. So although there is clear growth, many Americans still struggle to follow through with their intentions to eat healthier. 

And this has always been harder in the US. Thanks to many factors— such as economic hardship, a cultural lack of appreciation for food, busy lives, etc.— obesity and starvation are both alarmingly prevalent in our society. These issues are often systemic and could take decades to be resolved completely. 

But everyday, more and more information is made available. More people follow healthy food blogs, try out lower-calorie options, and share information and facts with their friends. So although the change may be slow, and many people struggle to follow through with their intentions, it is definitely still happening. 

What this means for America 

In short, this means that America is headed towards more healthier lifestyles. As more people become interested in healthy eating, more healthy food options will become available— which, in turn, means more people become interested, in a cycle of continuous growth. And new information about the benefits of healthy eating keeps getting shared with Americans, helping them change their habits. 

This change could then lead to other changes as well. I’ve found personally that when I make the choice to do one thing healthier, I start to make other healthy changes as well, like exercising more and sleeping better. And I think the same can be said for many other Americans. 

Lastly, this could have immense and lasting cultural implications. Perhaps this new trend will restore our appreciation for food, and provide a new wave of motivation to eradicate starvation. Maybe in 10 or 20 years we’ll look back and say “wow, I can’t believe that used to be an issue”. 

It’s too early to say, but I think whatever direction this trend leads us, it will be a good one. So share this information with others, keep your mind open, and try out some healthy food options! You just might love what you taste.