NEW YORK — The average American has spent the last year trying to avoid the “quarantine 15,” a new study reveals.

A survey of 2,000 Americans finds 73 percent have been dedicating themselves to better daily routines over the past year. This includes healthy habits like getting more quality sleep (55%), eating healthier foods (53%), and working out more often (47%).

Salad quarantine 15

Quarantine appears to have contributed to this self-improvement movement as more than two-thirds (68%) say it’s easier to eat healthy if they’re staying home. Another 56 percent add they prefer to work out from home. Likewise, 85 percent of those who work out from home and 65 percent who eat healthy at home both plan to continue staying in, even after the pandemic comes to an end.

Commissioned by Fresh Express and conducted by OnePoll, researchers discovered 65 percent of Americans are shopping for more produce and fresh food now than ever before. These respondents are spending an average of $557 on produce a year. Just as many are willing to pay even more for healthy and convenient foods.

America: The salad-eating nation?

In order to meet the recommended daily servings of fruits and veggies, a third (34%) turn to salads, with the average American eating salads three times a week now. Thirty-six percent have eaten more salads than ever since the pandemic began. When it comes to spending green on greens, more than half (52%) buy salad kits, which contain the salad greens, toppings, and dressings all in one bag.

Fifty-five percent of people look to salad kits specifically because they don’t have to spend time preparing individual ingredients. Meanwhile, 48 percent do so because it’s a convenient and inexpensive way to eat healthily.

Salad quarantine 15

However, salads can’t get all the credit for Americans’ attempts to eat healthier. People are also upping their protein intake by eating more white meat (34%), red meat (34%), and nuts or seeds (29%). Nearly half (48%) eat healthy snacks like apples, cheese, and nuts two or three times a week.

“Over the last year, consumers scaled back on restaurant or at-home dining, and increasingly sought out flavorful, nutritious and convenient meal solutions,” says Fabian Pereira, Vice President of Marketing and Innovation at Fresh Express, in a statement. “They want to enjoy chef-crafted meals, with minimal time spent in the kitchen.”

Cheat days are still on the calendar

Of course, no one is perfect and Americans still indulge in more than a week’s worth of cheat days every month.

Interestingly, when planning a meal, people claim to prioritize healthiness (30%) and how quickly it can be prepared (22%) over taste (19%). However, two-thirds admit to adding their favorite cheat foods to an otherwise healthy meal in order to make it more appetizing. Close to seven in 10 (68%) will add an unhealthy dressing or sauce to healthy foods to give it more flavor.

Among respondents’ favorite dressings: vinaigrette (34%), blue cheese (32%), and Thousand Island dressing (30%) are found most frequently on top of meals to mix things up.

Of course, many folks don’t hesitate to set one day aside to “cheat” on their diets. The survey shows that top cheat meals, not surprisingly, include things like fried foods (33%), fast foods (33%), and sweets (29%).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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