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5 Savvy Nutrition Tips for Millennials

Sharon Palmer

Millennials, dubbed “clean label connoisseurs” and “adventurous” eaters, have made a lasting impression on the way the world consumes food and beverages today. This generation of trendy, tech-savvy individuals, born between 1981 and 1996, are one of the key driving forces behind the shift towards a healthier food system. According to the Organic Trade Association, 52% of organic consumers are millennials, whose per capita intake of fresh vegetables is 52% more than the previous generation. A Hartman Group Study also reported that compared to 1% of baby boomers claiming to be vegetarian, about 12% of millennials are reporting to be “faithful vegetarians.” For millennials, food is a connection to their identity, and it is driven by certain factors, such as taste, quality and price. FONA International’s 2018 Trend Insight Report found that millennials understand what is healthy; as much as 79% pay attention to the ingredients on food labels.

Millennials seek healthier food choices, such as whole grain bowls like Green Goddess Buddha Bowl.

Thanks to their adventurous and refined palates, millennials are bonafide foodies. FONA International’s 2018 Trend Insight Report found that taste and quality are the top two attributes for millennials when purchasing healthy foods and beverages. But while taste reigns supreme, it’s also all about convenience. Even though 83% of millennials agree that a home cooked meal is healthier than a meal from a restaurant, this generation spends 24% of their yearly income on dining out. The Food Institute analyzed the USDA’s food expenditure data from 2014 and concluded that millennials spend 44% of their food dollars on eating out at restaurants, a 10.7% increase since 2010. Documenting their “Sunday Funday” brunch or post-workout power smoothie through pictures has become an essential part of a millennial foodie’s dining routine. In fact, FONA International’s 2018 Trend Insight Report reported 69% of millennials take pictures of their food before eating it, highlighting the importance of eating and dining out as an “experience” for millennials.

Just gotta take photos of food when dining out, right?

The most obvious characteristic of the millennial crowd is their affinity for social media and screen time. Many millennials rely on social media for health and nutrition information. They engage in their own research and make decisions about health based on their experiences, advice, and recommendations. As many as 93% of millennials do not schedule regular visits with their primary care doctor; rather, they use urgent care facilities if they get sick and seek medical advice online through websites and health blogs. Many also look for alternative medicine, such as supplements and natural foods, to promote their own health.

Looking for healthy foods to meet health goals.

Millennials can be savvy about meeting their goals for healthy, sustainable, delicious food experiences with some thoughtful planning. Below are 5 nutrition tips that every millennial can follow:

Top 5 Savvy Nutrition Tips for Millennials

1. Buy Organic Food, With Less Money. If you choose to buy organic produce, there are some simple tips you can follow to help you save money. Try buying your local fruits and vegetables from a community supported agriculture (CSA), an inexpensive way to purchase organic foods. You simply pay a membership fee to a farm and regularly pick up a box of fresh organic produce, which is more cost-effective for the farmers, since they grow and provide the produce that goes into the box; it also reduces waste. Reviews your weekly spending budget to save enough money and time for food prepping and buying healthful organic foods. First buy organic versions of foods that you eat often or in the greatest amount; focusing on buying in-season produce since they are locally grown and are more likely to cost less than buying out-of-season produce. If you’re wondering which foods to buy organic, try choosing leafy greens, strawberries and peaches and nectarines, to name a few, which have been shown to contain greater levels of pesticides. To find out more about common organic food myths, as well as how to save money while buying organic foods, check out this blog on organic foods.

2. Shop Healthy On a Budget. The first step to budget-friendly grocery shopping is planning ahead for the week. Plan meals around fresh produce and healthy plant proteins to save money while eating healthy, while keeping an eye on store sale flyers and coupons on the same items for more savings. Besides the right cooking tools to save money and time while preparing nutritious, plant-based food, try buying in bulk (including spices), using frozen vegetables, and filling up your pantry with potatoes, rice, and beans. Making your own staple items such as bread/baked goods, nut milks, and homemade granola or oatmeal can also help you save while on a budget. Check out these tips for eating plant-based on a budget.

Dine out healthfully with plant-based foods—or cook your own at home, such as these Curried White Bean Oat Veggie Burgers.

3. Dine Out More Healthfully. There are many ways you can eat healthfully while dining out. Help balance your blood sugar and curb your appetite by eating a small salad or bowl of roasted vegetables about 30 to 45 minutes before going out. You can also scope the menu before arrival, which can help you make smarter choices. By looking at the menu in advance, you can decide what you want to eat without the risk of over-eating or facing other distractions while at the restaurant. It also allows you to take into consideration any splurges you may make that day or week. When ordering a salad, limit those crispy toppings and sweet additions, which can lead to excess calories, fat, and sugar. Instead, ask for the toppings on the side, in smaller portions, or removed altogether. It’s also a good idea to request salad dressings on the side, so you can have control over the amount of dressing you add (and save a few hundred calories).

4. Know How to Read Nutrition Facts Labels. It’s always important to know how to read the Nutrition Facts label before you buy packaged products. These labels give you information about a food’s nutrient content. Each nutrient is given as a Percent Daily Value (DV), which is the percentage of each nutrient found in one serving of food, based on a standard 2000 calories per day. Start off by looking at the serving size and the number of servings in the package; compare your portion size (how much you actually eat) to the serving size listed on the label. Check for total calories, and take note of the number of calories in a single serving. Use percent DVs, which apply to the entire day, as a guide for how each food fits into your daily meal plan. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, added sugar and sodium, and are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Nutrients that are “Low” are 5% of the DV or less, and nutrients that are “High” are 20% of the DV or more. Pay attention to the list of ingredients; ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, with the largest amounts listed first. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, or want to limit added sugars, additives and preservatives, reading through the ingredients may be extra helpful. For more information on how to read nutrition facts labels, visit org.

5. Consider the Safety of Supplements. With the wide variety of supplements in supermarkets, drug stores, and online markets, it can be challenging to decide on which supplement to take, and whether or not you actually need to take one. Although you may benefit from taking supplements, such as if you are following a vegan/vegetarian diet, have allergies to certain foods, are pregnant, or have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, it is best to get as much as possible of your vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, and iron, by eating a variety of foods from the major food groups. Also, always consult a doctor or registered dietitian before taking any supplement. A doctor can determine if you are deficient in a certain nutrient and if you would benefit from a supplement, and an RD can evaluate your diet and make recommendations based on your needs. If taking a supplement, check for product integrity by looking for at least one quality seal of certification, which ensures that the supplement meets the organization’s tests for quality. An example of a seal of certification is “USP verified.” It’s also important to not exceed the recommended dosage and contact the manufacturer for more information about the safety and quality of their products.

For more advise on healthy, plant-based living, check out these blogs:

Top 5 Tips for Cooking with Kids
Plant-Powered Eating on the Hiking Trail
5 Tips for Plant-Powering Your Eating Style

Image: Chipotle Tomato Rice Power Bowl, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

Written by Mireille Najjar, Dietetic Intern with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN


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