Sugar plum regrets: 63% of Americans deal with ‘food guilt’ over the holidays

NEW YORK — If you’re already feeling guilty about what you’re going to eat over the next two weeks, you’re not alone. A new survey of 2,000 Americans finds 63 percent wrestle with “food guilt” each and every holiday season.

Eating some delicious, albeit unhealthy, food during the holidays is a tradition as old as the mistletoe. But, according to this research the obligation to pig out each year stresses many Americans out. Close to half (47%) say just thinking about all the fatty food that’ll be on their table this year leads to anxious thoughts.

Almost unbelievably, 48 percent even go so far as to say that food guilt is more stressful around the holidays than family drama or finding gifts for everyone.

Tasty holiday temptations

The survey, commissioned by Premier Protein in celebration of their new Cinnamon Roll protein shake, also polled Americans on which holiday foods tempt them the most. Generally, the top answer is sweets and desserts (23%) followed by specialty seasonal foods and beverages (14%).

Regarding specific sweet treats, many can’t resist some pumpkin pie (16%), followed by apple pie (15%), sugar cookies (14%), cinnamon rolls (14%), and cherry pie (10%). As far as seasonal drinks go, hot chocolate (18%) and eggnog (18%) top the list. Chocolate, cinnamon, peppermint, and pumpkin all make the cut of the most tempting holiday flavors.

Still, 70 percent concede it just wouldn’t feel like the holidays without some unhealthy food on the table. That being said, 41 percent believe the month of December routinely sabotages their fitness and diet goals for the other 11 months of the year.

Of course, nothing about 2020 has been normal. So, this holiday season will undoubtedly be an outlier as well. Over half the poll (53%) worry they’ll end up making even unhealthier eating choices this year due to how stressful 2020 has been.

“There’s nothing like great taste and beloved holiday traditions to bring people together,” says Premier Protein Director of Marketing Nick Stiritz in a statement. “But enjoying these moments doesn’t have to mean derailing your health goals. Keeping great-tasting, nutritious options on hand is an easy way to stay on track this year – and even indulge in your favorite holiday craving, too.”

Eating healthy food takes a back seat during the holidays

Four in 10 Americans are at least open to the idea of healthier versions of their favorite holiday treats. However, close to 60 percent say they’re usually so busy around the holidays they end up eating whatever is within arm’s reach. Cookies (24%), candy (17%), and leftovers (17%) rank as the top snacks Americans grab if they’re in a holiday hurry.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 73 percent also say it’s never been more important to follow a nutritious, healthy diet.

When it comes to cherished food-related holiday memories from seasons past, many Americans never forget the aroma of a freshly cooked turkey on Thanksgiving (32%). Baking holiday cookies with friends and family (22%), waking up to the smell of cinnamon rolls on Christmas or Thanksgiving (16%), eating cookies while eagerly anticipating a visit from St. Nick (15%), and eating tamales on Christmas Eve (7%) round out the list.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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