America's Eating Habits: Are They Getting Better?

There's still plenty of room for improvement, but a recent survey reveals some hopeful trends in our eating habits. Nutrition Diva takes a closer look.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
Episode #301

What We're Eating: The Good News

  • We’re snacking healthier. Our consumption of sweet snacks has declined by 6%, and our intake of healthy snacks such as nuts, fruit, and protein bars) are up 14% since 2006.

See also: How to Pick the best Energy Bars

  • Healthy foods are hot! We're all eating more yogurt, hummus, and beans than we used to. In just the last five years, the number of people who eat kale has gone up by 500%!

See also: How to Make Kale Chips

  • We're getting the message about sugar. Just 12% of us usually have dessert after dinner today, compared with 24% in 1986. We are eating more fresh fruit and less cake. We're also drinking less soda.

​See also: How to Reduce Your Added Sugar Intake

  • We’re eating out less and cooking more: The average number of meals eaten in restaurants over the course of a year went from 215 in 2000, to 191 in 2014. We're preparing 80% of our meals at home. Even better, 58% of the main dishes we prepare at home are made from scratch. 

That may actually be the best news of all. Not that I have anything against restaurants! I love eating out. But, as Michael Pollan argues in his latest book, "Cooked," regularly cooking and eating meals at home together not only improves our nutrition, it also strengthens our relationships with each other.

Kids who eat at home with their families get better grades and are less likely to be obese and/or suffer from eating disorders. Cooking is also a really fun thing to do with kids--and an invaluable life skill to teach them.  

See also: An Easy, Stress-Free Way to Plan Healthy Meals

Keep up the Good Work!

Obviously, there's still work to do. But I am encouraged by these trends! And it seems as if we're starting to bend the curve a bit on obesity--especially childhood obesity. Let's keep the momentum going!

If you have a comment, question or suggestion for a show topic, send me an email. And don't forget to sign up for my free weekly newsletter, for more tips, recipes, and answers to your nutrition questions.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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