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article imageNew social network for food, nutrition opens digital debate

By Robert Lawson     Aug 16, 2015 in Food
Can FoodNiche.me be a driving force in the confusing dialogue in food and nutrition in the United States? Some say it is like the LinkedIn for foodies.
The social media landscape has exploded with new ideas and opportunities for everything from technology enthusiasts to animal lovers. The digital playing field is wide open for a variety of niche interest these days. Food, in particular, has become a nationwide fascination on the digital media front for quite some time and has been given a huge boost from national television networks like Food Network and print media goliaths in the magazine and newspaper publishing industries. The cult interest in food has spread like wildfire, even creating opportunities in the local space within many communities. FoodNiche.me is a recently launched social network dedicated to driving an honest and open dialogue about food and nutrition in a world where there are so many conflicting bits of information coming from countless sources claiming to have the answers. The site is an attempt to cut through the noise by letting consumers, experts, advocates and enthusiasts get together to share and collaborate. Can they do it?
Using research to build the foundation
There are many, many digital media outlets and networks dedicated to the art of food and the science and nutrition part of the equation as well. What sets this particular channel apart is that they focused deliberately on consumer market research and psychology to get an accurate reading of something that they felt would be more effective in their quest to eat better and healthier.
Recent polls have shown that a majority of Americans would like to improve their eating habits for weight loss or better health. However, they find it challenging to adopt and maintain healthier diets for a variety of reasons. The most frequently cited barriers include an uncertainty of the taste as well as lack of time, money and cooking abilities. Additionally, 75 percent of consumers claim that contradictions within the dietary guidelines make it difficult to decide whom to trust and how to change their current regimens.
The research comes from a variety of sources in nutrition, diet and market studies including Food Insight’s recent study, “2012 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, Nutrition and Health” from the International Center of Excellence in Food Risk Communication.
The Journal, Psychology and Health published “The theory of planned behaviour and healthy eating: Examining additive and moderating effects of social influence variables.” Another article, “Etiology and Treatment of Obesity: Understanding a Serious, Prevalent, and Refractory Disorder” in Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology pointed to more behavioral psychology to find answers. “Psychosocial Consequences of Weight Reduction: How Much Weight Loss is enough?” in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also points to social factors.
"Situational Obstacles to Dietary Adherence for Adults with Diabetes " in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association looked at variables that are often overlooked.
Families and children are also an important focus for the company. They looked at “Determinants of fruit and vegetable consumption among children and adolescents: a review of the literature. Part II: qualitative studies” in The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
“Young adult males' motivators and perceived barriers towards eating healthily and being active: a qualitative study” in The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity was also an influencing piece of research that added to the team’s understanding of social influence and other factors for young adults and men.
Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research and Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology were also cited by the company in their research efforts for launching FoodNiche.
Simple, open and supportive
They have recently joined the traditional social networks like Facebook and Twitter to help people understand and gain interest in their social presence. They regularly post YouTube videos and images of food techniques and recipes to follow, such as their banana pancakes video on Facebook recently featured in Slanted Magazine Southern Minnesota Arts & Culture’s food section. The sped up video shows how simple (and tasty) some solutions can be: Mash up one banana and add two eggs, then whip into a batter. Next simply pour into a pancake in a hot skillet with olive oil or butter and optionally add syrup. The video producers used agave nectar as was explained at the end of the video.
Their channels are full of helpful advice and tips from nutrition experts, chefs, home cooks and adventurous foodies who share and collaborate with one another in an open environment.
NourishX Challenge
The NourishX Challenge starts Monday. It is an opportunity presented by FoodNiche to help people revitalize their diet and create a healthier eating habit according to the company. This is a monthly challenge where participants commit to consume nutrient-rich foods. During this period, they share their experience, gain inspiration and get support from their peers on the FoodNiche website.
The focus is only on consuming nutrient-dense foods, so there is no need to count calories or grams of fat, protein or carbohydrates according to the organizers. This includes eating three different vegetables at each meal, avoiding packaged foods and consuming at least five glasses of water per day. Their recommendations also include the following:
Fruits and Vegetables
• Leafy greens
• Fermented vegetables
• Safe starches (white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro root)
• Sugary vegetables (beets, carrots)
• Fruits
• Berries
Meat and Fish
• Organ meats
• Ruminants (beef, lamb, goat)
• Birds (duck, chicken, turkey)
• Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel)
• Shellfish
Fats
• Butter
• Sour cream
• Beef tallow
• Duck fat
• Coconut milk or oil
• Nut butters (except for peanut butter)
Flavorings
• Acids (from citrus fruits)
• Vinegars
• Broths or stocks (made from animal bones and joints)
Foods to Avoid:
• Sugars (added or artificial)
• Grains (white rice is okay)
• Vegetable oils (corn oil, cottonseed oil, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil)
• Peanuts
• Alcohol
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