Nine out of 10 People Are Wrong About Their Diet

Are you following a healthy diet? Most of us are trying our best. If you’re following our blog, there is a good chance you take steps in your daily life to eat right. But a new study found that almost nine out of 10 people think their diet is healthier than it actually is.

In a study with 10,000 people, only 15 percent accurately gauged how healthy their diet was. Eighty-five percent of the participants thought their diet was more nutritious than it was. Participants filled out detailed 24-hour diet questionnaires and rated their diet on a scale of excellent, very good, good, fair or poor.

We found that only a small percentage of U.S. adults can accurately assess the healthfulness of their diet, and interestingly, it’s mostly those who perceive their diet as poor who are able to accurately assess their diet,” said lead author Dr. Jessica Thomson. “Additionally, most adults overrate the quality of their diet, sometimes to a substantial degree.”

In reality, people with a “poor” diet had the hardest time recognizing it. Almost 97 percent of that group were incorrect and believed they were eating healthier than they were.

It’s difficult for us to say whether U.S. adults lack an accurate understanding of the components of a healthful versus unhealthful diet or whether adults perceive the healthfulness of their diet as they wish it to be — that is, higher in quality than it actually is,” said Dr. Thomson concludes. “Until we have a better understanding of what individuals consider when assessing the healthfulness of their diet, it will be difficult to determine what knowledge and skills are necessary to improve self-assessment or perception of one’s diet quality.”

It’s hard to tell if people don’t realize that their diet isn’t healthy because they have difficulty knowing what is healthy. Or if it’s because they are participating in wishful thinking and choose to believe they are making better choices than they are. It could be that more education could help people attain better diets. But, if it’s that people know everything, that isn’t the stumbling block.

Making a healthy diet easy and delicious is the trick to sticking with it and avoiding unhealthy foods. The researchers ranked refined grains and foods with added sugar, saturated fat and high salt levels as unhealthy. Avoiding processed food is key to attaining and managing a healthy diet. But that can be difficult. Finding a variety of easy, fast, delicious recipes can make it easier. That’s why we share recipes every week. A wealth of easy go-to recipes can help you abstain from processed foods filled with unhealthy sugar, salt and saturated fat.

This study shows that most of us have a ways to go before we attain a healthy diet. Having “cheat days” might not be advisable when our starting point isn’t great to begin with. But, finding simple ways to cut out sugar, salt and saturated fat can be a huge step forward, and you can enjoy healthy treats when you want to indulge.  

Banner image: Alexandr Podvalny via Unsplash

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