PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- What I know is everyone loves food! Food fulfills us emotionally, socially, as well as nutritionally.

In the early 1990s we were just discovering that saturated fat may be linked to heart disease and the low fat diet was used therapeutically to treat patients with high serum cholesterol.

A diet trend was born!

The food industry began to make products to meet our demand that were low in fat yet still delicious. Sugar, which doesn’t have any fat became the substitute in many foods and we tried all of them.

The diet claim of “low fat” was on everything including foods that never had fat to begin with.

So when you look back to the 1990’s and ask what big thing happened, it was sugar and processed foods. Food trends of the 90’s brought us Hot Pockets, Lunchables, Fruit Rollups and Gushers.

Convenience became an important decider of what went into the grocery basket and how many times we went through the drive-thru. The obesity rate was less than 18 percent back then and diabetes was still a disease for the "over 65" crowd.

Fast forward to the 2000s and it seems the low-fat craze was over as bacon rose to the top of the food trend charts along with fruit smoothies and cupcakes.

The Zone Diet was one of the popular diet trends. It seems we always choose restrictive diets to combat our appetites. Cupcakes just don’t fit into the Zone Diet Plan.

On the other side of those food choices was the rise in obesity to 30 percent of the population having a BMI greater than 30. Weight for men and women was up almost 10 pounds….I’m thinking bacon and cupcakes?

So what are we seeing now in 2019? Juicing, mushrooms, baby back ribs along with terms like clean eating, plant based diet, and gluten free.

Uber Eats is a thing! You don’t even have to leave your house to get take out! The hot diet trend is the keto diet and chronic disease (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disorders) is on the rise with 6 in 10 Americans having been diagnosed with at least one.

The obesity rate has now climbed and 40 percent of Americans have a BMI greater than 30 (BMI is a measure of weight to height, a healthy BMI is less than 25) and our weight has gone up 15 pounds since the 1990s.

I have watched firsthand the food and diet trends of the last 25 years as I became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in 1988. I have actually tried many of them and fed my kids way too many processed foods.

Little did we know back then the health consequences of this new food line, processed foods. What we know now is that too much of a good thing (especially processed food) is not good for your health.

The trends I am seeing emerge now are a positive sign with more interest in fruits and vegetables and focus on a plant based lifestyle. Restaurants with a more healthful menu are beginning to threaten the existence of those that only focus on our “appetites”.

There is beginning to be more of an awareness of how our food is grown, our meat is raised and our food is processed. I’m not gonna lie, we have created some real health challenges for ourselves but if these positive nutrition trends continue we are on our way to reversing them.

Remember, we are what we eat! Bon appétit!

Stephanie Espinoza is a registered dietitian nutritionist with The Nutrition Professionals


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