What’s the most popular US diet?

August 7, 2019 6:17 am Published by Leave your thoughts

It’s said that where the US leads, the UK will inevitably follow. So it might help to know what’s in store for us over the coming years, in terms of food. The annual dietary survey results  from the not-for-profit International Food Information Council (IFIC) are now out. In its 14th consecutive year, this survey looks at the “perceptions, beliefs and behaviours around food and food-purchasing decisions” of Americans. Every year, it tells us what the single most popular diet is amongst Americans. What’s topping the bill in 2019?

What's the most popular US diet of 2019?

What’s this year’s most popular diet?

Turns out – it’s clean eating!

It’s the most widely cited individual diet in the poll, ahead of all those taking part in ‘intermittent fasting’ (sometimes known as the 5:2 diet) and those on gluten-free, low-carb and ‘ketogenic’ diets. (The popularity of the paleo (caveman) diet, meanwhile, has slumped.)

What exactly is ‘clean eating’?

So what exactly is ‘clean eating’? The interesting thing is, no-one knows! Despite the best efforts of celebrities, authors and marketing teams, it remains a fairly nebulous, undefined concept. Within some very broad parameters, it is, essentially, whatever you want it to be – and that’s probably at the heart of its success.

Here’s Wendy Bazilion, a leading dietician, writing in The Guardian earlier this summer . She defines ‘clean eating’ as taking:

“a holistic approach to seeking foods that are fresher, less processed and higher quality – with individuals defining each of these in personal ways.”

It’s the ‘fresher, less processed and higher quality’ aspects that make up the parameters of this diet. In very broad terms, those ‘eating clean’ tend to:

  • eat wholefoods. They look for food that doesn’t need a label; food that simply is what it says it is: a grain, a nut, a seed, a fruit, and that hasn’t had important nutritious elements refined out of it.
  • avoid highly processed foods (this tends to remove excess salt and refined sugar from a diet too).
  • avoid additives: things like sweeteners, flavourings, colourings, synthetic chemicals and pesticides.

From these basic principles, further guidelines such as ‘concentrate on fresh foods’ or even ‘eat organic’ naturally flow.

And why is any of this ‘clean’? The theory is that food that’s been only lightly touched by industrial and chemical processes is ‘cleaner’ than other food – it doesn’t clog up our insides with ‘dirty’ additives.

Who’s doing it?

Clean eating has been popularised by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow. However, the celebrity-led approaches tend to be more restrictive (and expensive). Back in 2014, in our blog Eat clean with us .. and Gwyneth Paltrow, we looked at a two-week ‘eating clean’ regime that insisted on a low-carb, gluten-free and zero coffee and alcohol approach, and had a heavy reliance on foods such as quinoa, raw almond butter, almond milk, organic almonds, flaxseeds, vanilla extract, dark chocolate, tamari and brown lentils, (all of which Naturally Good Food was able to provide!).

A year later, we checked into the world of clean eating again, to find that things had calmed down somewhat. An emphasis on wholefoods and on finding your own way, in a kind of blissfully mindful state, had arrived. Once again, Naturally Good Food makes this kind of clean eating easy to achieve. First of all, we’re continually blissful and mindful and – perhaps more importantly – we stock a great range of clean wholefoods, including:

Wholefoods are food that’s been as lightly processed as possible and is as close to its natural state as possible. If you’re trying to avoid food that could have been contaminated with chemical fertilisers and pesticides during the growing process, then you might also be interested in our Organic food section.

Round about 2017, avocados and coconut oil muscled in on the clean eating movement. You couldn’t move, in trendy cafes, for carefully curated avocado and coconut oil dishes.

But by 2018, the backlash was well underway. Food isn’t ‘dirty’ anyway, wailed Nigella. An obsession with clean eating “masks and promotes” eating disorders, stated Dr Max Pemberton. The clean eating movement is “hostile to facts and experts”, claimed various Guardian columnists. Anthony Warner (aka The Angry Chef) simply described it as “nutribollocks”.

Avocados, people went on to point out, have to be flown halfway across the world in dirty great polluting planes. And coconut oil, according to Karin Michels, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan school of public health, was ‘pure poison’. (Did we agree? See our blog on the issue here.)

Why is clean eating still so popular?

None of this seems to have made any difference to the rise of clean eating. So why is it still so popular?

It’s partly because there’s some strong evidence for its benefits. The risks of eating a diet full of highly processed, low-quality food are increasingly apparent. Eating a diet full of fresh, unprocessed and high-quality ingredients, meanwhile, is a fairly obvious way to stay fit.

It’s also popular because it’s easy to follow, lacking hard and fast rules. You can simply decide to ‘eat clean’ and – off you go! There’s no-one tracking every mouthful you eat, or every purchase you make in the supermarket. There’s no wagon to fall off: instead, it’s more of an ‘approach’, a ‘concept’, a ‘continuum’, a ‘roadmap’– or a journey, perhaps. Many would have it that this kind of low-key, gradual and vague approach to eating well is the kind most likely to persist.

And of course, it’s popular because it sounds incredibly virtuous. Who wouldn’t want clean food, a clean body and clean hands, ethically speaking? It lends itself to links with words such as ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ (and Instagram pictures of long-haired youths cavorting in waterfalls).

Eat the most popular diet with Naturally Good Food

We’ve been eating clean since long before it even had a name. We’ve always promoted eating wholefoods, natural food and organic food, where possible, as the best possible route to health. For us, clean eating will never be a dirty word!

Will clean eating soar further in popularity in 2020? Or be overtaken by some diet as yet unheard of? And will the UK show the same enthusiasm for it as the US?

We’ll keep you up to date. Meanwhile, check out our Wholefoods section, our Organic section and our Free from sections. At Naturally Good Food we’re eating clean….forever!

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This post was written by Yzanne

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