NEW YORK — Nearly half of Americans admit that following their idea of what a “healthy lifestyle” looks like would ultimately make them miserable (48%).
A survey of 2,000 adults looked at the bad reputation sugar has and found that, similarly, 49 percent believe they have to give up parts of their lifestyle in order to be healthier. Nearly all of those respondents wish that wasn’t the case (89%). Results also showed that many people are still under the impression that eating healthy means eating food that doesn’t taste good but is good for their bodies (59%) and means mostly eating fruits or veggies (39%).
Respondents shared that when they think of healthy lifestyles, ideas that come to mind are someone who knows information about what they’re consuming (43%) and exercises about four times a week. When it comes to being healthy, 55 percent are misled by the idea that they need to avoid sugar at all costs and 64 percent claim that they try to keep sugar out as much as possible to maintain that idea of being “healthy.”
The data, gathered by OnePoll for ONE Brands, also found that although 68 percent believe they know exactly what belongs on a “healthy” plate of food, many missed the mark when putting their knowledge to the test.
Failing the ‘healthy plate’ test
When it comes to what “eating healthy” looks like, the average person thinks a “healthy” plate is 27 percent protein, 19 percent grains, 17 percent fruits, 17 percent vegetables, 10 percent dairy, and 10 percent fats.
However, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a standard “healthy” plate should be closer to 20 percent protein, 30 percent grains, 30 percent veggies, 20 percent fruits, and healthy oils and dairy in moderation. More than a third of the poll didn’t know that nutrient requirements differ by body type (42%), gender (40%), and age (34%).
While 58 percent believe they eat closer to the right amount of all food groups than the average person, the same percentage admit they don’t eat as much protein as they should, and even more revealed they could be eating more vegetables (63%).
“Everyone’s nutritional needs vary, which can make meeting those goals feel like aiming at a constantly moving target,” says Eric Clawson, general manager of ONE, in a statement. “By learning about what your body requires to perform at your own optimal level, you can more easily establish and meet those goals.”
Finding sugar in stunning places
When it comes to sugar, the average respondent insists they have less than 16 grams a day, but the American Heart Association shows that people actually consume around 77 grams daily, exceeding the 25 to 36-gram recommendation.
Nearly half of respondents revealed they were unaware that natural sugars and processed sugars are different (47%). Although people know that fruits like apples (67%) and bananas (63%) have natural sugar, they were most likely to mistake greens like celery (39%), lettuce (39%), and cucumber (38%) as not containing any sugar.
Almost seven in 10 shared that they don’t even think about the amount of sugar when choosing fruits or vegetables to eat (68%).
While 56 percent say they’re likely to reach for candy or other sweet treats rather than fruit when they have a sweet craving, the same percentage would eat more fruits and vegetables if they could help scratch that itch.
“Eating foods that suit your nutritional goals doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. There are great-tasting better-for-you options in grocery and convenience stores across the country that satisfy every craving,” Clawson adds. “What’s important is establishing your own personal nutritional needs and learning about the ways that you can stay on top of your goals without compromising on other things that are important to you to make your choices fun.”