Nearly a third of all food Americans eat makes them feel guilty, according to new research.
The new study found that Americans, increasingly aware of healthier and more natural alternatives, feel guilt about 29 percent of the food they eat on average.
This ‘food guilt’ over eating choices and habits strikes approximately five separate times a week.
And in a time starved world, your food guilt can add up. The pervasive feeling of food guilt lasts for nearly 20 minutes each occurrence, meaning you can spend more than three and a half days every year feeling guilty about what you eat.
The new survey of 2,000 Americans, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Chomps, found that food guilt is caused primarily by the awareness of food being unhealthy. High sugar content and overeating are also leading causes of guilt.
Dinner is the most guilt-inducing meal of the day, with 36 percent reporting feeling self-conscious and ashamed after they finish. That being said, 42 percent feel more guilty about snacking than main meals.
At a time when social media influences what we eat and can have a major impact on our mood, the study found that more than half (51 percent) of Americans said that food guilt lowers their self-esteem. 52 percent of men and 39 percent of women said that these feelings can even ruin their day.
In fact, 30 percent of all meals are decided based on the food that will make Americans feel less guilty.
Guilty feelings aside, respondents revealed that many Americans even feel shame and embarrassment from snacking. In fact, approximately half (49 percent) of Americans believe certain foods are “gendered” due to stereotypes, and more than one third (43 percent of men and 26 percent of women) say these stereotypes have stopped them from eating certain foods.
Foods that are seen overwhelmingly as feminine include salad (54 percent), cupcakes (57 percent), and fresh fruit (42 percent), while stereo-typically masculine foods include beef jerky (56 percent), hamburgers (46 percent), steak (53 percent), and meat sticks (56 percent).
“We want people to feel empowered by their snack choices. The old stereotypes of some foods being better for men than women needs to be replaced by knowing what works best for you and keeps you energized through a busy day,” said Aarti Gopal, VP of Marketing at Chomps. “While our snacks have historically been considered male-centric, we find over 70% of Chomps buyers are health-conscious women who want healthy protein snacks to keep them going.”
About five times a month, Americans feel guilty about breaking their diet/nutrition goals. This explains why 58 percent said they actively look for meals and snacks that will not make them feel guilty.
Although widespread, a majority of Americans (57 percent) feel that food guilt is a waste of their time.
“Food guilt is a waste of time,” said Gopal. “There are so many healthy options today, like Chomps, that there is no longer a need to compromise between health and convenience. You can absolutely find snacks that keep you fueled throughout your day without any guilt!”
THE 5 MOST GUILT-INDUCING FOODS
1. Ice cream 46%
2. Chocolate 44%
3. Candy 43%
4. Cookies 42%
5. Potato chips 40%
THE TOP 5 CAUSES OF FOOD GUILT
1. Unhealthy food 51%
2. High sugar content 44%
3. Overeating 43%
4. High fat content 41%
5. Unhappy with weight 35%