If there's one thing that has been consistent about diets over the last forty years, it's that there is always something new to try.
Thankfully, as of late, there has been a bit more consistency in promoting balanced nutrition and a healthy, active lifestyle. This year, with our nutrition company celebrating 40 years of changing people's lives with great nutrition products, I found myself entertained by re-living the evolution of diet trends and food preferences over the last four decades.
What was 'Happen'en' in the 1980s
The eighties were a time of low-fat, high carb diets and trends. It was all aboutreducing fat from any source — even the healthy fats — and eating a lot of carbohydrates (including plenty of sugar) which are considered by many to be a huge diet "no-no" today.
The diet fads were fascinating:
The 1990s: All That and a Bag of Non-fat Chips
Low-fat, high carb diets were still all the rage, so plenty of "fat free" items - like cookies and snack foods - started hitting the market, leading many to believe they could eat all the fat-free treats they wanted without gaining weight. But these "fat free" foods were not "calorie free," and people soon realized that consuming large amounts of fat-free foods led to weight gain — so diets began moving to a more balanced approach.
Popular diets of this decade included:
In the nineties, we also saw a healthy push towards more fiber, and vegetarianism started to become more mainstream as soy and grain-based veggie burgers started to hit the mainstream market. The no-calorie fat substitute, Olestra, became a popular ingredient for a number of fried snack food items, but was quickly abandoned since it was not absorbed in the body and caused plenty of digestive distress.
The USDA Food Pyramid was also introduced in 1992, and the FDA passed the DSHEA Legislation in 1994 which defined and regulated how supplements were labeled and manufactured, leading to a vitamin and supplement boom.
These Were 'Poppin' in the 2000s
The new century also brought a big shift in eating, with a shift towards higher protein and lower carbs. Over time food manufacturers began to come out with more low-carb options to meet this growing trend. But, as with the low-fat craze of the 1980's, many consumers overate these low-carb (but not low-calorie!) foods and had trouble reaching their weight-loss goals.
Three admitted millennium favorites:
The raw foods movement also kicked off but stayed niche, since it appealed mostly to vegans. Over-the-counter fat-blockers became available and trans fats were demonized as information came out about how dangerous they were to heart health. "Supersize Me," the documentary that showed the dangers of supersized fast food meals, led McDonalds to end its supersizing practice soon after the film debuted. The food of the decade was bacon; green tea started its heyday; smoothie stores popped up on every corner, and "organic" and "local" food items started entering the mainstream.
The 2010s Were So 'Extra'
Now looking back at the last decade of food trends and habits, we find keto and paleo diets taking prominence over the last ten years, along with a newer eating trend known as intermittent fasting.
These four diets were everything:
During the past decade, food trucks popped up everywhere, and meatless meat became mainstream, with the newest meat alternatives providing a flavor profile similar to actual meat and meant to satisfy veggie burger naysayers. Milk replacements — from soy, pea, nuts or oats — appeared everywhere, worrying the dairy farming industry. Good fats ruled, while butter coffee took off as part of the ever-popular Keto diet.
New Decade, Same Trends
So here we are, entering the 2020s, and our fifth decade as a Company. What's next? While trends, ideas of healthy diets and popular food items have definitely evolved over the last forty years, it was definitely interesting to see a pattern of those trends that will continue to stick around:
Cheers to a healthy 2020 and beyond!