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16 Ways Millennials are #Winning the Food Game (Part 3 of 4)

December 21, 2012
EliseTruman, MS, RD

Cheers and thanks for joining [NL] as we continue our countdown of 16 reasons why Millennials are #winning the nutrition game. Yesterday, we explained how being inherently digital, keen to nutrition expert presence, eating ethically, and going global all help Millennials in staying ahead of the nutritional curve.

Here’s four more:

8. Serial Snackers

Millennial 1: “Did you eat slunch today?”

Millennial 2: “No, but I plan on having a very big brinner.”

Breakfast

Millennials are serial snackers and are said to spend a higher percentage of their total foodservice dollars on snacks than other generations. According to the trend watchers, The Kruse Co , 35% of meals eaten by Millennials aren’t really meals at all; they’re snacks. “Desserts are now eaten at any time, sometimes even before breakfast. Lunch and dinner are increasingly combined into ‘linner’, and many consumers insist on breakfast for dinner, forcing restaurants to keep the breakfast grills fired all day to serve ‘brinner.’

“If students eat any square meals per day, it might be one. The rest is filled with snacks and food on the go.” says Shawn La Pean, the executive director of dining at University of California Berkeley. “Weird eating is the new normal.”

Nutritional Impact: We eat and we eat often. We eat at any time of the clock. We skip meals casually, but make up for it by eating 7 or 8 small snacks in a day. We eat all the time, so restaurants are preparing by making food available to Millennials any time hunger strikes. Due to second jobs, increased schooling, and erratic schedules more Millennials are stretching their days until the early morning hours. And though this may seem like a negative habit, frequent eating can keep the metabolic engine revved. If we go long periods without nourishment, our bodies go into ‘starvation’ mode and metabolism starts to shut down. Research points to the benefits of snacking as a long term nutritional habit.

Just remember, there is a smart way to snack. A quadruple cheeseburger and milkshake does not fit into this category. In short, aim for 300-400 calories, depending on the frequency of your snacking.

7. Veggie is Vogue

Vegetarianism has been a growing trend in the nation for years but Millennials seem to have picked up on it more so than other generations. The Hartman Group study found that 12% of Millennials are “faithful vegetarians”, compared to 4% of Gen X’ers and 1% of Boomers.

According to another study on collegiate Gen-Y eating demands, “More students align themselves along the less-meat to meatless spectrum from flexitarian to vegetarian to vegan and even raw diets”.  In fact, the Vegetarian Resource Group reported that 42% of vegetarians are between the ages 18 and 34; the Millennial generation.Red Pepper

To drive the point further home, Jonathan Safran Foer reports in his book Eating Animals, that approximately 18% of college students in the U.S. are vegetarian and that half of this group want more vegetarian options to be available on campus. A Philadelphia Inquirer article featured information from Bon Apetit Management Company (which serves college and university accounts) stating that there was a 50% increase in vegetarian students and the percentage of vegan students doubled from 2005 to 2010.

Nutritional Impact:

The backlash to the demand has been wild. Vegetarian eating plans are popping up everywhere. Schools are doing ‘Most Vegan-Friendly” competitions. Millennials are hosting Meatless Monday parties.

While meat can be a great source of protein and iron, science has also showed that there are several health benefits to eating more veggies. For instance, studies have shown decreases in mortality rates from heart disease in vegetarians. A vegetarian diet can offer lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol and often are high in fiber, folate, and phytochemicals.

And, hey! If full on vegan/veg is too much of a commitment, some Millennials opt for ‘vegetarian with benefits’:

  • Flexitarian – a person who eats a mostly vegetarian diet, but who is also willing to eat meat or fish occasionally.
  • Pescetarian -a person who supplements a vegetarian diet with fish.
  • VB6 – from the saying, “vegan before 6,” a person who eats a vegan diet before 6 p.m. and then whatever he or she wants after that.See what works for you. Just try not to be too ‘vegangelical(i.e. an extremely over-zealous vegan, who is eager to make other people believe in and convert to veganism to the point of annoyance).

    6. Allergy Authorities

    Gluten, nuts and shellfish, oh my! An allergic reaction is defined as a response to an allergen, usually a food protein. Different from allergies, but sometimes similar in symptoms, are food intolerances and sensitivities (such as lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity). According to reports, these food allergies are on the rise, especially with Millennials, and the increase has forced the food market to get with it.

    According to The UCLA Food and Drug Allergy Care Center, the occurrence of allergic disease is skyrocketing and estimates are that as many as one-in-five Americans have an allergic condition. With this increase, more Millennials are affected by food allergies and sensitivities and have to alter their everyday eating habits.

    Nuts Close up

    Nutritional Impact:

    While in no way is having a food allergy desirable, choosing alternative foods can sometimes force Millennials to make healthier choices and be more cognizant of what is going in their mouths. Grocery stores are expanding to meet the needs of Millennials and restaurants are beginning to add suggested menus to avoid certain food allergens. I recently visited a Noodles and Company and was particularly impressed to see this detailed (and visually appealing) Nutrition and Allergen chart.

    Though it’s preferred to not have any food allergies or sensitivities, many substitutions are actually proving to be as good as or better for consumers than the original. It’s important to consult your registered dietitian and physician to get a true diagnosis before changing your eating habits, but a few examples include:

    • Lactose-free dairy milk: A good option for those with lactose intolerance and contains the same nutrients as regular milk.
    • Soy milk: An option for those with dairy allergies. Soy milks tend to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
    • Sun Butter for Peanut Butter: Provides organic and unsweetened advantages.
    • Gluten-Free Oat-Meal for Traditional: For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, and some brands contain more fiber than traditional oats.

    5. Communi-vores

    Cook a three-course meal and have no one to share it with? Not likely for a Millennial. Millennials are said to be more prone to eating with others than generations before. It is called ‘commensality-style’ dining and it essentially means that Millennials like to eat together, whether it be going out or cooking at home. In fact, one study reported that 45% of Millennials felt less comfortable eating a meal alone. Millennials are much more likely to prepare special meals for entertaining friends, with 1 out of 5 doing so at least several times a month.

    Darren Tristano, the executive vice president of Technomic says that, “Millennials visit restaurants more frequently than any other generation. Success with today’s Millennial consumer will depend on making an emotional connection and setting expectations.”

    Nutritional Impact: Eating with people is the best part of eating! And as we mentioned in an earlier post, eating should be about the experience, not just the food.

    cookies

    In one laboratory experiment, small groups of college friends were served fresh chocolate chip cookies while being asked to discuss a campus issue. For half of the group, researchers secretly asked 2 of 3 friends to avoid eating any cookies in front of a third friend (who was left in the dark). Researchers found that students ate fewer cookies as a group when their friends ate no cookies compared to when their friends consumed a couple cookies.  This study demonstrates the power of eating communally, which is the preferred style for Millennials.  Now that we know that our positive eating habits can affect our friends, share the nutritional wealth!  And do it like a Millennial, have fun with food!

    Please join us again tomorrow when we share the final 4 reason why Millennials are #winning the food game!

    Sources:

    http://www.packagedfacts.com/about/release.asp?id=2937

    http://millennialmarketing.com/2012/06/millennials-seek-fresh-tastes-and-flavors/

    http://www.aaaa.org/news/bulletins/Documents/ri_milgrocery.pdf

    http://www.nature.com/embor/journal/v7/n11/full/7400846.html

    http://www.foodprocessing.com/articles/2012/millenials-drive-snacking.html

    Elise Truman Bio

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2013 7:40 pm

    I fond this post through Millennial Marketing blog. I love #8, millennials as Serial Snackers. SO TRUE. You can check out my post here on my weight loss journey, and implications I see for Millennials. http://tinyurl.com/bb48sab Any of your thoughts would be appreciated! PS going to link my post to this as a great follow-up.

    • February 17, 2013 7:30 pm

      Thanks for your comment Rachennial and we’re glad you enjoyed the article. I found it astounding that by some estimates over 1/3 of Millenial meals are not meals at all but more often snacks or “combination” meals like brunch.

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