Although America still loves a fad diet (see recent juicing craze), we’re seeing people start to reject one-size-fits-all recommendations in favor of crafting a personal guidebook for what they will and won’t eat on a daily basis. Whether based on food sensitivities, sourcing of ingredients or just a commitment to recreating the caveman’s lifestyle, people are using their food rules as another way to assert their uniqueness and tell people who they are.
“Today’s restricted eaters are prone to identity-driven pronouncements along the lines of “I’m gluten free.” (It’s worth nothing that, back in the aughts, no one declared “I’m Atkins!” Except, quite possibly, Dr. Robert Atkins himself.) Consumers seem to be building self through sustenance, adjusting their appetites to reflect independence and moral character“ (New York Times).
“We have a lot of self-diagnosing going on out there,” said Melissa Abbott, who tracks the gluten-free market for the Hartman Group, a Seattle-area market research organization” (CBS News).
“A friend who is on Weight Watchers was staying with us recently and expressed her frustration with the program because it is simply not set up to deal with individualized diet counseling. The program is wonderful for people who have been eating unhealthily and really didn’t know that a bacon double cheeseburger with fries has more calories than a grilled turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread. They not only lose weight; they learn to improve their food choices. But I know all this” (Huffington Post).
Is it better to be perfectly right for some or somewhat right for most? Is designing for the mean even a sustainable option?