Trend Watch: Better Nutrition, Better Resilience
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Climate change, along with the ongoing pandemic have caused some shifts in the ways health professionals and food marketers are thinking about nutrition. Healthful food of good quality is our first line of defense against disease of course, but also a key way to build resilience for a future that may bring warmer temperatures, more severe storms and poorer air quality. Communicating the nutritional benefits of a nourishing diet in relation to building an individual’s resilience to withstand the impacts of climate change are messages that may resonate with both older and younger generations. Here are three suggested ways to frame your messaging.
- Make Sustainable, Nutritious Food Choices: Climate change is an escalating concern among Americans, especially among younger generations, and this concern is driving demand for urgent action, with particular focus on immediate changes in food choices. While environmental factors should be an important part of food decisions, it is equally important to consider the nutritional impact on human health. Topics such as planning a plant-forward dietary pattern and clarification on the benefits that minimally processed foods can provide, will be important guidance to assist consumers with aligning nutritious, sustainable dietary choices with both personal health and that of the planet.
- Deploy Dietary Defense: As the climate changes it is predicted that we will experience not only higher temperatures but poorer air quality. Individuals who are overweight, have existing breathing issues such as asthma, and/or deal with a chronic disease will most likely have more difficulty with these environmental shifts. With the on-going pandemic, and a growing interest in the “food as medicine”, consumers are understanding the connection between diet and disease prevention. Eating to build strength and resilience to defend against disease and environmental concerns may be a way to reframe and modernize nutrition messages.
- Prepare for Emergency Nutrition Needs: One way to help your customers be proactive and resilient is to help them prepare for nutrition needs in the face of a future emergency. From illness to devastating storms, the need to isolate or a loss of power shouldn’t leave someone hungry or scrambling for food supplies. Consider ways you can support customers with emergency preparedness by offering a pantry stocking list that includes foods and supplies needed for up to 2 weeks. Click here for a list of suggested food to stock up on and helpful tips that can be shared with customers.