We can all agree that the pandemic has had a sizeable influence on the food we consume today and has inadvertently changed our relationship with it.
As the lockdown made us housebound, it changed the way we buy, cook and consume food. From what a lot of dieticians and health consultants have witnessed, it has had contrasting effects on our food patterns – both healthy and relatively unhealthy results. Along with food, our content consumption pattern was also altered. This, undeniably has had its effects on our food consumption.
With consumers making their way through ‘the new normal’ it will be interesting to take note of factors that will affect their consumption habits and behaviors.
One of the positive outcomes was the shift in focus towards a healthy lifestyle. Consumers were a lot more cautious about what we put into our bodies. With food prices surging, people felt the pressure on their wallets. Investing in home-cooked foods, that help build a healthy immune system, into diets was no longer a fad. Some of them were, and continue to be, plant-based foods, vitamin supplements, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Consumers started looking for healthier alternatives to indulge in their favorite guilty pleasures – to such an extent that they also started reading labels of packed food. Mocktails and low or 0 ABV (Alcohol by Volume) drinks were also on the rise.
People also tried to influence their friends and family into making better decisions, when it came to health, wellness and food consumption.
THE SOUR BY-PRODUCT
On the flip side, the pandemic instilled a few unhealthy food habits within some of us. A lot of us began finding many new occasions to ‘eat’. For example, midnight snacking!
The increase in demand for online food delivery is a clear indication of how we started relying on convenience rather than health. Work from home amplified our need for convenience. For working parents, with the stress of working and home-schooling their kids at the same time, they had no option but to resort to ordering in, frozen food and ready-to-eat meals. Same goes for bachelors and spinsters who depended on their domestic workers to cook their meals for them. The disadvantaged communities such as those working on daily wages and who rely on remittance, experienced an inability to afford nutritious meals.
Restaurant-cooked meals are proven to contain higher amounts of sodium, saturated fat, total fat, and overall calories than home-cooked meals. When it comes to home-cooked meals, you put fresh ingredients together yourself and you have total control over what is going into your food. That can make an enormous difference to your overall health.
THE ‘SOCIAL’ IMPACT
Community-driven platforms have substantial subconscious command over our actions. Since our screen time was at an all-time high during the lockdown, social media played a huge role in influencing us to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Several healthy recipes and workout videos emerged during the lockdown. A lot of creators also posted videos of their healthy diets and workout regimes in such an appealing manner that it made us romanticize their lifestyles and motivated us to do better. Similar content is still in the making that continues to inspire people from across ages. But, these platforms can also trigger cravings. For example, if I see someone’s Instagram story of a delicious cheeseburger, I might just start craving one myself and order it. All it takes is a tap of a button. Goes to show, how much of an impact community-driven platforms can have on someone’s day-to-day life. This is why we must always be mindful of what we put out there.
So I wonder if these changes in our food habits are permanent or simply just a pandemic phase. As schools, colleges, and offices open up again, are we as well opening ourselves to falling back into our old ways?
The authored article is written by Razia Ali, Founder, Blend For Food and shared with Prittle Prattle News exclusively.