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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Identification helps decision-making

Vegan, Paleo or raw-food – these are just some of the current diet trends that are attracting more and more followers. And not just because it's fashionable to do so – conscious identification with a specific way of life helps people navigate the challenges and choices of daily life. It also makes shopping easier.

Food trends reflect bundles of individual attitudes

Supermarkets offer a bewildering array of products. Choice is all very well, but it can lead to confusion and it takes time and effort. Especially if people want their food not only to cover their calorific needs, but also to reflect their values and attitudes. Are we looking for a health-promoting product? Should it be environmentally sustainable, fairly traded, or simply regional? Can I buy a vitamin-rich tropical fruit even if it has travelled thousands of kilometres at the cost of tonnes of carbon dioxide? Consumers want to do the "right" thing, explains Thomas Schröder in the current edition of the journal "Haushalt in Bildung und Forschung" (the household in education and research). Food trends pick up on this urge by bundling different values into a single concept. This means that any individual can more or less pick a trend that best reflects his or her values and then simply follow its precepts.

The promise of health tops the list

Taking a decision like "I'll eat only healthy food", "raw foods only", or "gluten-free only" simplifies navigation through the huge choice of products. Devotees of Clean Eating eat anything that is natural, unprocessed and whole food. They are generally motivated by health considerations combined with a sceptical view of the food industry. The Paleo Diet is based on what Palaeolithic man is thought to have eaten. Followers of this diet try to avoid eating anything developed in the course of civilization over the past 10,000 years.
Nutritional rends gain traction by promising to boost and maintain health and fitness. Many people see good health as their life's goal and believe they are responsible for optimizing their health through their everyday behaviour. Nutritional trends offer them practical guidelines, which are especially important as new research is constantly throwing up new ideas on healthy eating.

The food industry reacts fast to changing trends

Finally globalization and flexible markets are also driving the boom. Social media let consumers play a key role in shaping trends. Manufacturers and producers react quickly to ensure that products are on the market as soon as demand begins to grow. Everything seems to indicate that nutritional trends will continue to be on-trend, believes Schröder. He also warns that we need to take a critical look at new food fads: the more people limit the variety of food they eat, the more difficult it is to be sure they are taking in all the essential nutrients. If you're going to follow a trend, you need to be well-informed about nutrition too.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de