Nutrition Through The Decades: 2010-2020


Cutting edge technology and the boom of social media apps rejuvenated excitement of meal prepping and exercise for the new decade of the 21st century. Instant Pots became a popular household item that taught younger generations the love of cooking without the hassle of cooking and cleaning after a single meal. In fact, the company sold 10,000 in 2012 [1]. Likewise, Ninja Juicers were also a new fad for the fitness lovers that just finished an intense spin class at home or studio. Plus, the latest workout video from a favorite fitness personnel on Instagram and YouTube were free and easy to access to jumpstart a new workout routine. The flourishing advancement in technology and social media were prime motivators for the rejuvenation of nutritional eating and fitness in the world.


One of the best advancements in fitness technology was the Fitbit. The small digital wrist device could monitor not only a person’s daily calorie intake but also help with heart health results and practice better sleep habits with 24/7 tracking. The Fitbit also encouraged its patrons to participate in the simple physical activity of walking more throughout the day with the “daily step” calculator where they could collect badges in a special program with the more step goals they reached [2]. The Fitbit was a wonderful motivator that made fitness and a healthy life feel like an obtainable goal without the monthly fees of a gym membership.


Corporations also encouraged healthy habits by challenging their employees to reach monthly fitness goals by providing fitness trackers or rewarding their top users with fitness-themed prizes ranging from exercise clothes, a gym bag, a Fitbit, a bike, golf equipment, paid time off, a weekend trip, or even a stand-up desk for the office [3].


Stand-up desks became a hot item to help prevent the health risks of sitting for too long even for those with an active lifestyle. The reinvention of the stand-up desks became the fastest-growing employee benefit in US workplaces [4]. Even the American Cancer Society stated that companies claimed the stand-up desks provided health benefits including weight loss, reduced back pain, improved mental health, lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and greater life expectancy [5].


Personal fitness gadgets were just one category of encouraging nutritional lifestyles in 2010 era. The ever-expanding world of social media and apps also played a major role in nutrition in positive and negative ways. People became obsessed with constantly being on their phones instead of being active in the world around them including nutrition and settling for fast food once again while streaming a new show. So, the world of fitness came to them.

Foodie blogs popped up all over the internet providing extensive libraries of recipes from all over the world without resorting to buying cookbooks. YouTube provided free access to finding fitness videos from top health experts to follow at home while Instagram took the love to another level. Famous chefs and newbies gained massive international followings and brands like Starbucks and Oreo experimented with visually striking, limited-time offerings designed to gain traction online [6].


Another wonderful thing that changed in social media was body acceptance. Embracing natural changes in the body and celebrating them. “Body positivity also aims to help people understand how popular media messages contribute to the relationship that people have with their bodies, including how they feel about food, exercise, clothing, health, identity, and self-care.” as stated in an article on VeryWell Minds [8].


Stretch marks showcased basic adolescent growth and the beautiful miracle of child-baring. Cellulite wasn’t grotesque excess amount of fat, but a normal feature found in 90% of all women and 10% of men that develops over time and never fully disappears regardless of a highly active lifestyle [9]. New standards of beauty were changing the industry of film and TV as well with a wider range of heights, age, weight, and skin color without being the butt of jokes or an outcast. And Victoria Secret disbanded their perfectly sculpted Angels in an effort to rebrand the company with normal body shaped models saying the Angels were no longer "culturally relevant” [10]. Women started to love how they looked without giving into the lies fueled by Hollywood and the fashion industry propelling their perfect standard of “beauty”.


Apps became another form of health media in the digital realm creating a wonderful world of daily exercise routines, sleep cycle monitoring, and a variety of well-known dieting programs. Pre-packaged meal kits from companies like Blue Apron and HelloFresh could be ordered through an assigned app to be delivered straight to the door with a box of fresh healthy ingredients [11].


The quick option of drive-through fast food became more instant with delivery companies like DoorDash, UberEats, and GrubHub could bring anything from a foot long hot dog from Sonic to a bento box from a Japanese restaurant delivered right to your door. In fact, in 2019, DoorDash lead with 35% of the country’s online food delivery sales [12]. The possibilities were endless, and a person would never have to leave their house and be stuck in a drive-through line ever again with the simple push of a couple of buttons.


Aside from the technological aspect of nutrition and fitness, farm-to-table dining became the new standard [13]. People wanted healthier options without paying for the lack of taste. Americans were becoming more aware about maintaining better eating habits over simply finding the latest fast and dangerous way to reach a flat stomach regardless of who endorsed the product.


Plant-based foods were selling well at the supermarket, with sales rising 11% in 2018 and milks formed from nuts and oats still provided calcium with a lesser percentage of sugar compared to regular cow milks [14] [15] [16] [17]. Alongside this, sunflower butter was a good source of healthy fats and vitamin E. and cauliflower became the healthier alternative to potatoes to cut back on the starch intake while the rediscovery of “super foods” like berries, beans, greens, and nuts [18] [19]. A new found obsession with avocados sprouted onto restaurant menus across the nation ranging from breakfast to dessert - even avocado ice cream became a trend [20]. Eating nutritional rich foods was no longer considered a punishment for wanting to lose weight. It was now a trendy thing to do.


Paleo, Keto, and Vegan became new diet trends but were just as restrictive as past programs. Paleo caused deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D, Keto could cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies, and an increased risk of heart disease, and Vegan wasn’t any better with the higher risk of fractures, and vegans and vegetarians combined may have a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke [21] [22] [23]. Every diet program requires risks and limitations as seen throughout the past several decades and these three are no exceptions.


The best program is the same one found in various nutritional journals provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Be active as often as possible even something as small as walking around the house and maintain a healthy diet. Limit salt and sugar intake, eat raw fruits and vegetables, add protein, be careful of certain cooking oils, and curb a love of fried and fast foods. It’s not a fast or easy regime, but it’s the best one that’s lasted throughout the decades.


Fitness apps and wrist devices aided improvement in daily fitness habits that allowed for a more personalized health and/or activity plan and encouraged users to strive for the next goal [24]. Meal kits with fresh ingredients and interesting recipes were delivered right to the door or grocery shopping was done with a click of a couple of buttons without stepping into the store. Technology also improved education on nutrition and disease preventions by learning how different foods and beverages affected the body. It pushed for better organic products and less artificial ingredients as well. Thanks to the advancement in technology, the goal for a healthy lifestyle no longer seemed as unobtainable as before, nor a compromising, miserable, limited change only to revert to old habits after a trendy diet failed. Fitness and nutrition were now available 24/7 right at the fingertips and all one has to do is take that very first step to a new wellness goal.




Author: Emily Pau

Editor: Sophia Galvez

Public Health Scientist: Hira Mughal

@werise4wellness

References


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[3] Danielson, C. (2017, March 31). CoreHealth Workplace Wellness Blog. Retrieved from CoreHealth Technologies: https://blog.corehealth.global/top-15-corporate-wellness-incentives-by-budget

[4] Simon, S. (2018, February 14). Standing Desks: Are they worth it? Retrieved from American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/standing-desks-are-they-worth-it.html

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[9] MacMillan, A. (2014, April 26). 15 Myths and Facts About Cellulite. Retrieved from Time Magazine: 15 Myths and Facts About Cellulite

[10] Hanbury, M. (2021, July 17). Victoria's Secret abandons its scantily dressed Angels, saying they're no longer 'culturally relevant.' Activists and entrepreneurs will be the new faces of the brand, it says. Retrieved from Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/victorias-secret-angels-are-no-longer-relevant-to-brand-2021-6

[15] PhD Arnarson, A. (2020, June 2). 7 benefits of almond milk. Retrieved from Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318612#:~:text=As%20a%20result%2C%20enriched%20almond,for%20building%20and%20maintaining%20bones.

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