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The food trends truckers will face in 2016

Yes, yes: “healthy eating” is one of those trendy celebrity-boosted fads that never seems to die the death it deserves. Why should it “die” you ask? In part because not even the federal government can properly discern what foods are truly “good” or “bad” for you, as this article noted.

Yet diet is critical to human health and more so for truck drivers, who, as a group tend to be worse off health-wise compared to the U.S. population as a whole.

[By the by, for some good truck driver health advice, go here, here and here.]

Thus, truck drivers are going to be getting a lot of nutritional advice in New Year – whether it’s desired or not – if for no other reason that good health equates to safer driving.

As a result, drivers may be interested in the findings generated by the fourth annual What's Trending in Nutrition survey recently conducted with by Pollock Communications and Today's Dietitian magazine, which polled 450 registered dietician nutritionists (RDNs) to see what “healthy foods” will be hot – or not – in 2016.

“Clean eating” will be the big foodie trend in 2016, focused on a plant-based diet rich in “ancient grains” while low fat-touted items get ditched. Consumers are also expected to favor seafood, buy foods based on antibiotic-free claims and continue favoring gluten-free items, whether or not they truly deliver on their reputed health benefits.

Most registered dietitians say seeds (55%) have superfood star-power, followed by avocados (52%) and ancient grains (50%). Meanwhile, kale is losing its luster as a vegetable. When it comes to popular beverages, green tea tops the list.

Where will most folks get their nutritional advice in 2016? You guessed it … celebrities. According to the survey, most registered dietitians believe that nutrition trends start with celebrities, with 33% citing them as the initiator of food and eating fads, while 26% name social media as having the most influence on consumer eating trends.

When it comes to protein, what will be the most popular sources in 2016? If this survey is to be believed, shopping carts will have less beef, bacon, and other processed and red meats as more consumers look to seafood, nuts and seeds, eggs, poultry, and dairy to provide quality protein in their diets

That said, the number of individuals focusing their attention on high protein eating may have peaked—two-thirds of RDNs say that protein enthusiasm will be about the same in 2016.

When it comes to the messages and claims that impact shopping decisions, claims like "GMO-free" and "antibiotic-free" will prompt purchases in 2016, as will "additive-free" and "locally sourced." The question is whether these characteristics actually drive healthier purchases noted. Jenna Bell, senior VP-director of food & wellness for Pollock.

"While consumers may look for GMO-free or other 'free-from' claims on the label, it doesn't mean that it has always led to healthier, more nutritious options," she noted, warning that one “unintended consequence” of choosing "free" foods could be that consumers might not assess the overall healthfulness, consider food safety issues, understand truly sustainable practices, or might pay unnecessary costs.

"Make decisions based on the quality of the whole food and the variety and quality of your overall diet," Bell suggested.

When it comes to deciding what to eat, RDNs polled in this survey said that taste and convenience – at 97% and 93%, respectively – are important or very important when it comes to deciding what to eat. “While healthfulness is the not the deciding factor according to one-half of the respondents, even when you're making healthy choices, RDNs know that taste and convenience are deal breakers if not satisfied," Bell explained.

Technology is going to play a more pronounced role in nutrition in 2016, too, as 71% of RDNs polled in this survey more consumers will use technology to help improve their in the New year, likely tracking their food intake or activity with smartphone apps or wearables.

Yet nearly two-thirds of RDNs in Pollock’s poll are concerned that consumers are getting wrong and potentially harmful nutrition information from blogs and social media, as Bell speculated that this may be due to the number of non-experts sharing information.

(Surprise, surprise … NOT!)

Well, there you have it – some food trends to “chew” on as we head into 2016. Here’s wishing you and yours a great New Year. I’ll “see” you back in this space as we begin marking days down on a fresh calendar.

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