2022 was a year full of food trends–from baked oats to Cloud bread, there were some pretty yummy and delicious recipes to be shared. But it’s also a place where foods that can harm your health can go viral.
“Food trends are oftentimes started by people with no medical background or healthcare credentials,” says Lauren Manaker, RD, registered dietitian with FitOn. “While these trends may sound promising, they aren’t necessarily the best thing for your health.”
“Since everyone can be an influencer or have a large following on social media nowadays, this can lead to a lot of misinformation to circulate,” adds Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics. “Misinformation and false information about food, nutrition, and health can lead to serious health consequences and can be very dangerous.”
“Other food trends I’ve seen over-simplify health and nutrition or hyper-focus on one specific food or drink for good health,” says Jen Scheinman, RD, registered dietitian and Nutrition Affairs Manager for Timeline Nutrition. “On their own they may not be unhealthy, but they tend to play into unhealthy eating behaviors or give false promises of good health. There are so many mixed messages about what to eat for good health and so many of these trends add to that confusion.”
Here are what we consider to be 14 of the unhealthiest food trends of 2022, ranked in order with #14 being “least unhealthy” and #1 being “most unhealthy.”
This trend started on TikTok as a way to keep avocados green after cutting them.
“People on social media claim that keeping cut avocado in water in the fridge can help keep your avocado from browning,” explains Manaker. “But doing this can lead to food borne illness like listeria.”
Vegan egg substitutes completely took off in 2022. On TikTok, there are currently over 24.3 billion views on vegan egg videos.
“The great news for vegans or those with egg allergies is that they now have plenty of egg-free substitutes available, but unfortunately, a lot of these vegan egg options are high in sodium and contain a lot of carbohydrates, which a regular egg doesn’t contain,” says Ehsani. “If you are vegan or have an egg allergy, stick to the classic flax and water egg substitute, because it contains healthy anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.”
The reason this trend is so far back on our list is because yes, some vegan egg varieties are on the unhealthier side, but some aren’t as bad. It’s about finding the healthiest ones.
Squeezing lemon into black coffee was another food trend in 2022 that blew up because of its promises of weight loss.
“On its own, mixing lemon with coffee probably has little health risk, but as a weight loss tool, there may be some issues. There is no evidence that combining these two things will aid in weight loss, and promoting these types of trends plays into the diet culture mentality of quick wins for weight loss,” says Scheinman. “Plus, Americans already rely way too much on caffeine for energy and don’t need a reason to be reaching for more.”
Instead, Scheinman suggests that for weight loss, a focus on a healthy diet and exercise are the way to go.
Pink Sauce, a sauce made of sunflower seed oil, honey, chili, garlic, and dragon fruit, took TikTok by storm.