It’s Official; the Pandemic Gave a Boost to Holistic Nutrition

This is great news, guys.

According to the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2020 Food and Health Survey, as many as 85% of Americans made changes in their food or how they prepare food because of the pandemic.

Despite so many of the challenges we faced in 2020, one positive result is that many people are thinking about food differently now!

With that news in mind, our team put their heads together and quickly came up with the Fabulous Five Ways in which the pandemic has shone a positive light on the Holistic Nutrition Industry.

Here it goes…

#1 People are cooking at home more.

With the home kitchen seeing a resurgence, many Americans are eating at home for all three meals.

Sara Peternell, NANP’s Marketing Specialist, reminds us that in March 2020 alone, grocery store sales jumped nearly 30% compared to the same period in 2019. Even in the late summer of 2020, consumers remained heavily reliant on supermarkets for food during the pandemic.

In their reporting, the International Food Information Council estimates that about one in five consumers reported making healthier shopping choices with “functional ingredients” being a top priority. This means that while legacy brands (Nestle, Hormel, etc.) are still keeping pace, consumers also are interested in innovative new ways to keep meals interesting.

What makes meals interesting? Sara says, “trends towards superfoods, fermented products, medicinal mushrooms, collagen, and other items are making their way into the home kitchen more so than before the pandemic.” She has found that the clientele at Sara Peternell Family Nutrition Services this year appear savvier, more curious, and more willing to buy different foods with powerful health claims because of what they have read online or heard about from others. Sara’s clientele wants to be in-the-know and actively understand what health benefits these new products offer.

Cooking at home means people are paying attention to what they buy and eat! This may seem understated, but Sara couldn’t be happier. An aware, educated, and empowered at-home cook elevates our field because people who want to cook and like to cook may soon enlist the help of a professional who can help them make their meals delicious AND nutritious.

#2 People are thinking about their health.

Brad Linberg, NANP’s Website and Graphic Designer, says, “Crisis moments also present opportunity. You have people concerned about not getting sick and wondering what they can do to elevate their health.”

Brad points out one way of recognizing this change that has impacted our industry; there has been a shortage or back-order of many beloved supplements on popular practitioner dispensary websites.

“Suddenly, everyone knows more about Vitamin D – which is a great thing – and when it’s out of stock just about everywhere, you have to believe that people are researching about the benefits for their immune system and applying the research to their lives. They start taking nutrients that benefit their health.”

We probably have all had at least one conversation with a friend or family member in the past 12 months that starts like this, “So, if I had to take one or two vitamins that can help keep me healthy, what should they be?”

People thinking about their health is one of the most basic ways holistic nutrition professionals can find more potential clients knocking on their door. Brad says, “people are taking their health into their own hands, and will call me up and say, ‘I heard about a certain immune supportive food or supplement, but I need you to help me make sense of it all.’ This has been a profound shift since the pandemic started.”

#3 People are prioritizing self-care.

Whitney Marks, NANP’s Member Relations Assistant, shares that self-care is now a daily practice that more people eagerly fit into their day. “What started as routines to help us cope with immediate uncertainty and disruption (maybe even an antidote to boredom) needed to morph into strategies to cope with some of the most profound stressors some of us have ever faced.”

Major pandemic-related events, including illness, loss of loved ones, and loss of employment, caused many people to take a big step back and reevaluate what’s important.

Whitney thinks all of this reflection has caused some people to reveal to themselves just how precious life is and how we need to take good care of ourselves to live a happier, fuller life. “From working at home to child-care issues, or just too much “together time,” Whitney has found that her friends and family recognize that for the good of their mental health, self-care, stress management, and coping techniques need to be a priority.

As holistic nutrition professionals, we greatly appreciate this turn inward. We want people looking within themselves to find the strength to face the day and cope rather than crumble and rise rather than feeling defeated. Promoting the “normalcy” of a self-care routine – taking a hot bath, stretching, reading, using essential oils, the comfort of touch like a massage, relishing in a nap, etc. – help to promote a new kind of wellness collective that Americans have never really known.

#4 People like to get outdoors.

Laura Waldo, NANP’s Legislative Affairs Specialist, is no stranger to the benefits of fresh air, movement, nature, and the negative ions which benefit the body. Laura’s experiences living in the mountains among the evergreens are one of the best things she ever did for her health, and she sees that many people around her seek the same kind of solace for their health and mood.

Laura says, “People were cooped up for so long at first. I think in the beginning, not being able to do some of the things we are used to doing in public meant going back to older, simpler, more meaningful ways – just taking a walk or going fishing – that suddenly made sense. And, people now have time to take more nature adventures!”

Laura’s love of nature has inspired those around her. “I am so happy to see that instead of getting more plugged in, many are doing the opposite. I mean, we are on our devices all day now if we are working remotely. At the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is scroll social media. Getting outside is the antidote!”

What better lifestyle approach is there than encouraging connection with nature? As holistic nutrition professionals, we know that health is so much more than what we eat. We believe strongly in our connectedness to the environment and the natural world. People begin to thrive when they make time to get outdoors. We are happy this habit has become the norm for Americans and hope it won’t go away any time soon.

#5 People are looking at the healthcare system differently.

The pandemic has affected many facets of the healthcare industry. We see an unexpected impact on our industry as more people seek options to stay or get healthy outside traditional medical institutions.

Andrea Grandon, NANP’s Educational Programs Specialist, says the pandemic has likely altered the public’s perception of needing frequent urgent care visits, pharmacy visits, and hospital visits.

“In fact, I think many of the clients I see in my practice are being more selective with procedures and the time they have to spend on healthcare,” Andrea says. Her clients at The Nutrition Helpline are more proactive and take that same personalized approach that Brad mentioned earlier. “They want to go outside the confines of the managed care approach, skip the lines and middlemen and get right to the meat and potatoes, so to speak,” says Andrea.

Weight loss is a big area where this is happening. Andrea sees that the pandemic has caused people to gain weight or become concerned about their weight more than previously. “We know the joke about the 19 pounds,” she smiles. “But the reality is, my clients are bypassing the doctor’s office for advice traditional weight loss programs and going straight to the experts in metabolic health and nutrition.”

Andrea feels that because people are thinking more about their health, they become savvier in their choices. “If they have had a poor experience, maybe felt like their time was cut short, or their concerns were dismissed, these may be the reasons to pay out of pocket for a proper experience.”

Furthermore, she has many trusted referral partners, and she is getting a slew of new clients from providers who know their patients need holistic nutrition support to meet their medical health goals. That is where Andrea comes in.

Naturally, with holistic nutrition, we believe that the relationship between client and practitioner is a powerful one that can change lives and empower people to live their best lives. We hope that this trend continues and that our industry will connect allopathic providers and more holistic care across the spectrum.

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