How the holidays shape Americans’ diets

Heading into the holidays, most say they feel good about what and how much they eat during the festive season.

The author(s)
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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December 7, 2021 -  Heading into the holidays, most say they feel good about what and how much they eat during the festive season. However, fewer feel they can stick to a diet during the holidays, although older generations say they are better at staying on track than younger generations.

Looking ahead to the next year, most believe that inflation is here to stay. At the same time, most believe that their standard of living won’t change one way or the other.

Millennials feel the worst about holiday eating

Most Americans are satisfied with the amount of and quality of foods they eat while observing the holidays, with three in five feeling good about the quantity and two in three feeling good about the quality.

While majorities, regardless of age, feel good about both aspects of holiday feasting, millennials report being the least comfortable with their eating habits. Among this age group, 54% feel good about the quantity of food, and 57% feel good about the quality of food they eat during the holidays. Compare that to Boomers, of which 70% feel good about the quantity, and 77% feel good about the quality.

Boomers most likely to feel that they can maintain their dietary goals while celebrating the holidays

Perhaps related to their positive relationship to holiday eating, Boomers are also the most likely to report the say they can maintain their diets during the holiday season, Ipsos polling finds.

Three in five Boomers (61%) agree that they can maintain their dietary goals while celebrating the holidays. By comparison, only 38% of millennials feel the same. Overall, only half of Americans feel like they can keep up with their diets during the holidays.

Black and Hispanic Americans most likely to adopt alternative diets

Even with the growing popularity of meat and dairy alternative products, it’s clear that most Americans (86%) continue to eat diets that consist of all food groups: meat, dairy, eggs, and plant-based foods.

Still, there are some notable differences when looking at the data by race. Nearly all white Americans (90%) eat a diet consisting of all food groups, 12-points ahead of Black Americans (78%) and 7-points ahead of Latinx people (83%). By comparison, one in five Black Americans (18%) eat alternative diets, double that of white people (9%).

When asking about alternative eating habits, like pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan diets, Ipsos detailed the restrictions of the diet, not the label. For example, when gauging attitudes toward a pescatarian diet, Ipsos asked respondents if their diets on a normal day could be described as: “Eat[ing] seafood, plant-based foods and products derived from animals such as dairy or eggs, but not meat.”

Boomers least likely to talk with a spiritual advisor, counselor, or therapist

Most Americans have not talked with a spiritual advisor, counselor, or therapist in the past month. Three in four people report never having conversations with these people, with significant differences by age.

Boomers are the least likely to do this, with 84% reporting that they have not talked with a spiritual advisor, counselor, or therapist in the last month. By comparison, about seven in ten people in every other generation have not had these discussions.

Even among those who are more likely to seek counseling or spiritual advising, Gen Z reports doing this more frequently, with 14% doing this daily or weekly, double that of millennials (6%) and more than triple that of Gen X (4%).

Most believe their standard of living won’t change in the next year, despite rising inflation and household costs

Looking past the holidays, most Americans believe that the rate of inflation and the amount they spend on monthly bills and other expenses will continue to rise.

At the same time, most expect their standard of living of living to stagnate (63% say that it will stay the same). However, less affluent and people under age 34 indicate the greatest exuberance about their future standard of living relatively to wealthier and older groups.

Views on inflation have a relatively limited impact on whether Americans foresee a change to their standard of living in the next year. Among those who believe that inflation will increase, 59% say their standard of living will stay the same, while one in four say that it will improve.

The impact becomes clearer when this group is set against people who think inflation will hold steady or decrease – among this group, more (72%) believe that that their standard of living will stay the same.

The author(s)
  • Sarah Feldman Senior Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs

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