Monday, September 19, 2011

Eating Patterns in America

Do you eat the same foods day in and day out? Are you more inclined to pick one restaurant over another? What foods have you been eating more of? These questions and more are answered on a yearly basis by the NPD Group, otherwise known as a market research firm. Their results, compiled in the 26th Annual Report on Eating Patters in America, help companies create new products and reform old ones—all in an effort to better entice us (the consumers) in the supermarket, at the drive-thru window or in the car we debate which restaurant sounds good for dinner.

This latest report, although not available for the masses quite yet, includes 650 pages of facts, graphs and more. All of which seems to represent the way we eat. Here's a taste, take directly from the NPD website:

1) We are skipping fewer meals.
2) We have mixed feelings about "fresh."
3) More of us are buying health in a pill.
4) Sodium may be declining as a health concern.

Whatcha think? Do you fall prey to any of the above? Note, they aren't all bad.

It's good that we're respecting the importance of a well-balanced diet by eating the BLD combo (breakfast-lunch-dinner), but it's a bit unnerving that we can't get in line about the concept (and importance) of "fresh." We're still not using enough fresh foods in our meals, and although we're buying into the farmer's market a lot more than usual, the shelves at our grocery stores are stocked with more processed and shipped-in foods than one could probably even count. But at least we're taking our vitamins, even though some of us are still relying on diet pills to lose weight and control hunger. (Really? Sheesh.)

As for sodium, well...I've certainly read my fair share of articles about the importance of a low salt/sodium diet, and I do my best to pick the low sodium options when I'm at the grocery store. It seems I'm not alone in that respect, which is good. Maybe we've finally kicked the salt habit. Or maybe we're continuing to get smarter and smarter about it. For the most part, that is. According to the aforementioned report, we still eat a lot of salty snacks. Contradictory? Perhaps.

Again, from the NPD website:

The foods and beverages we ate more of last year than ever before:
1) In-Home Meals: Pizza, fruit, salty snacks and yogurt.
2) Restaurant-Purchased Meals: Breakfast sandwiches, hot cereal, burritos and iced tea.

Thank you, Starbucks and McDonald's, for enticing us to eat your hot cereals (not). You all now how I feel about these in-a-pinch breakfast options. I'd rather spend my money on a big 'ol tube of old-fashioned oats. But I'd certainly rather order hot oats at the drive-thru than a breakfast sandwich. But that's just me and my need for a sweeter type of breakfast. And don't even talk to me about skipping breakfast...I can't. You wouldn't want me to.

Moral of the story? Make sure your eating patterns are healthy patterns.

And do check out the NPD website. You'll find a lot of interesting reports that focus primarily on the way we live. What's on our mind? They'll tell you.

Question: What are some of your most prominent eating habits?

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