Our mental and emotional health is intertwined with what we eat and drink;

Because most Americans admit to feeling stressed in the past six months, people’s food and drink choices are closely related to their mental and emotional well-being, we learn. 2023 Nutrition and Health Research by the International Food Information Council (IFIC).

For this year’s study, IFIC commissioned Greenwald Research to conduct 1,022 interviews with adults between the ages of 18 and 80 in April 2023. The growing role of social media in the food system and the impact of sustainability on people’s views of food.

Consumers continue to look for healthy or healthier foods as we face rising food and beverage costs. Health remains a top factor in food purchases for 3 in five US consumers. many of whom are also looking for greater convenience.

What is “healthy” in the eyes of consumers? That translates to fresh food, low-sugar foods (a growing feature), protein, and a “natural” label.

In this year’s IFIC annual food study, mental health and stress play a leading role in the lives of consumers embedded in people’s food lives.

Three out of four people say that eating affects their mental or emotional state. And our mental and emotional well-being in turn affects how people eat and drink, with 61% of us.

Overall, 3 in 5 US consumers admit to being somewhat or very stressed.

While younger people are more likely to say they are stressed than older people, 60% self-report generational stress and 51% of people say stress has a detrimental effect on their healthy food and drink intake. :

Still, 56% of Gen Xers and 42% of Boomers reported feeling stressed.

Half of consumers followed a specific diet or diet in 2023, about the same percentage of people as in 2022, and significantly more consumers than the 39% following a diet in 2021.

The most common eating styles included high protein *for 18%, mindful eating (17%), calorie counting (12%), clean eating (12%) and intermittent fasting (12%).

The main consumer benefits of food and meal choices were greater energy and less fatigue, weight loss or maintenance, healthy aging, improved digestive/gut health, optimized heart and cardiovascular health, improved sleep, muscle strength and brain function.

Emotional health and immune health are linked with 24% of consumers looking for these benefits as well.

Hot spots of Health Populi. The top lines shown in the last chart tell us that losing weight, improving our physical appearance, and boosting energy are gaining traction among US consumers when it comes to food and beverage consumption. People’s return to work (RTW), “showing up” in public, and traveling again motivate consumers to continue to focus on weight loss, as well as pay more attention to their physical appearance.

Restoring and re-energizing is also key to increasing resilience and getting back into the pre-pandemic/post-pandemic way of things for many people, moving towards a more normalized, if redefined, rhythm of life. Furthermore, protecting long-term health and future health conditions is also a priority for 33% of consumers.

Consider the foodies in this study, whose homes are also being transformed into self-care spaces for health, medical care, and well-being. Consumers are increasingly looking to food and beverages as health-enhancing lifestyle components that go beyond basic nutritional needs. Thanks to IFIC for this annual deep dive into consumer perspectives on food and, increasingly, health, embodied in both body and mind.

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