To Eat or Not To Eat

Gen Z, Food Allergies, and Diets

Sydnee Reichert, Staff Writer

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Lactose intolerance, tree nut allergies, and peanuts are some of the most common food allergies people have today. Some of the most common allergies at Broomfield High School are similarly dairy, gluten, and nuts/seeds. Out of a recent poll taken by (a small amount of) students, most Eagles don’t have allergies, but, interestingly, a large percentage of students still watch what they eat out of preferences.

While a large margin of people said that they would eat whatever is on their plates with no caution, Gen Z is proving to be a trailblazer for what society is putting into our bodies. With new food trends and how people want to see themselves, diets are not only intended for weight loss but have other bonus benefits. Generation Z is not only changing the way that their generation consumes food but also the generations before and after them.

Since being in high school, it has become more popular to watch calories and choose diets based on preferences, more than people might think. In a survey of 53 people, 54.7% of respondents said they pay attention to what they eat, which was truly shocking to see that more than half won’t eat just about everything. Even more shocking, when asked if their diets were based on preference or allergy, (35) 62.9% answered based on preference.

The survey did not address looks or body figure, yet there were a variety of answers as to why people follow a certain diet that were directly related to these qualities. 75% of respondents said that they have no allergies at all, but they cut certain foods out of their diets such as foods with gluten, dairy, GMOs, and others to increase energy and skin/stomach health.

Sticking to a diet was not traditionally in the routine for many BHS students. However, students at our school have opened up and shared how certain foods make them feel and why they eat the way that they do. Trinity Bruno (12) shared how she’s “started paying attention to what [she] put in [her] body.” She cut sugary foods like soda, candy, desserts out of her diet as she’s gotten older to see healthier benefits.

Gen Z’ers and even some millennials are noticing ingredients in their food, but this is also dictating how big food companies are keeping in business. For example, Oreo filling contains not only sweet ingredients but also an off-brand version of Crisco to make the filling fluffy and smooth. Eating food is only half the battle sometimes, but if the Oreo’s cream cheese filling wasn’t so smooth, would they be eaten for so many years?

People’s increased awareness of the ingredients in their foods has propelled other brands like Kraft’s Mac n’ Cheese to changing their recipes. By taking items out like yellow food dye, millennials are more likely to buy a product. When long ingredients that are nearly impossible to pronounce and dyes are added to food, they are less likely to be consumed because of harmful side effects to the body.

Many of the respondents in the BHS poll cared for other factors such as the environment, how animals are treated, and overall health benefits. It seems as though the current high school generation (Gen Z) has been paying attention to what they’ve been eating and doing in order to better their moods/emotions and health. This has been a drastic change since the era that Gen Z’s parents grew up in (typically Gen X) when eating junk and sugary foods was never questioned, and things like being gluten-free, lactose intolerant, etc., didn’t really exist

Born anywhere from 1996-2010, Generation Z is a cohort that is already proving to be a more cautious group based on health standards. Part of this consensus is the prevalence that allergies play in our society. Allergies didn’t seem to be as prevalent. Only 21% of Gen X say that they have a food allergy, compared to 28% of millennials.

From 1990 to the present, peanut and other allergies have been recognized and become frequent in the last 25-30 years with no clear reason as to why. Some doctors believe that it could be due to how the baby develops in utero, but it also may be caused by the sanitation of babies. Since there have been more babies in the households (larger family sizes in the last 30 years), its supposedly more popular to wash babies every day. Apparently washing babies daily was not normal 25-50 years ago, but it turns out that since babies in the 80s weren’t bathed daily, they were less prone to being allergic to certain things.

So, out of all the things you should thank your mom for, making sure you didn’t smell like your diaper as a baby could be one of them.

Sanitizing our skin has proven to be a good hygiene habit but, this causes the skin to be less protective against things like peanuts and other food-related allergies. According to a recent poll, almost 10% of the 35 people, are allergic to nuts.

Interestingly enough, the most common allergy on the poll is dairy (13.2%). Nutrition degrees are also more popular to have today than they were in the 80s. From the 1990s to today, the study around nutrition and diet patterns has increased.

Although allergies are more of a thing today versus 25ish years ago, it’s even more common to alter your diets based on how our emotions change.

Gen Z is showing to be the one to make a change in what we’re putting into our bodies. One thing that may be a factor is the presence of body image. Eating more healthy foods like fruits and vegetables is showing benefits such as more energy, skin clearing, and even better habits of not eating junk food.

Lactose intolerance, tree nut allergies, and peanuts are some of the most common food allergies people have today. Some of the most common allergies at Broomfield High School are similarly dairy, gluten, and nuts/seeds.

Back in the 80s when our parents were growing up, allergies were not near as prevalent and research on them was minimal. According to investigators from a 2016 article, they didn’t “think it was a real science” back then. 35 years ago, food-related allergies were extremely rare, but today there are 3.5-5% of the general population with an allergy. (Sampson)

It was interesting to see that since being in high school, watching calories, and choosing diets based on preferences are more popular than imagined. In a survey of 52 people, 55.8% of them said they pay attention to what they eat, and of 35 people, 62% do it out of personal preference versus people who have to follow a certain diet based on allergies.

As kids growing up, sticking to a diet was never in the routine. Students at our school have opened up and shared how certain foods make them feel and why they eat the way that they do. Trinity Bruno (12) shared how she’s “started paying attention to what [she] put in [her] body.” She cut sugary foods like soda, candy, desserts out of her diet as she’s gotten older to see healthy benefits.

Another new piece of information that students may have learned while taking classes in school is how animals are treated in the food industry. Something about watching how food is made really makes people sick sometimes. Kendall Sickels said that in elementary school, she watched a documentary about slaughterhouses, so her mind has been changed about eating meat ever since.

Other people around the school will eat anything put in front of them. Out of the 53 surveyors and the 54% who pay attention to what they eat, 38 of them said that they still eat all of the foods. This could mean a multitude of things: maybe they eat all of the foods in moderation, their version of “all the foods” is different, or even just that they lied on the survey…probably not.