You Eat Worse Than You Think

Using their massive set of food ratings, the Eatery app found that people consistently think the food they eat is healthier than it is.

As we previously discussed, Massive Health stumbled upon a goldmine of data about the world’s eating habits (or at least the eating habits of iPhone users) with the Eatery, an app that allows people to snap photos of their food and rate other people’s pictures based on their perceived healthiness. In the infographic below, we can see just how off base our perceptions are about what we eat.

Based on data from Massive Health’s hundreds of thousands of users, we now know what we probably all realized anyway: All that bacon and pizza you eat is worse for you than you’re willing to admit. The data shows that 72% of foods on the Eatery are rated as being healthier by the user that’s eating them than by everyone else. And apparently, one-tenth of people think bacon is healthy and one-fifth of people think diet soda is healthy.

People also tend to get starry-eyed when they eat anything with the word salad in it. But, remember, all salads are not created equal (and users rate them differently, too):

Interestingly, users who self-identified as being on any sort of restricted diet (vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, low-carb) ate healthier foods overall than everyone else. When you think about the foods you eat, you also think more about how healthy they are.

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  • Maryclaire

    Being restrictive because of health reasons (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc) is one thing.  Being restrictive with what you eat in general because you think it's 'healthier' is NOT healthy.It's what leads to eating disorders.  The fact that foods are labeled as 'healthy' or 'not healthy' is a problem in and of itself.   Yes, some foods have more nutritional value than others, but there is a place for all food in our lives.  If we listen to our bodies and eat what tastes good to us without restricting or creating forbidden foods and stop when we are satisfied, we are healthier overall.  Sure, when someone is following a 'diet' and 'thinking about food' they may guilt themselves, force themselves, bribe themselves, or whatever into eating more nutritious foods, but it will only last while they are on the diet.  As soon as they go off the 'diet' they will binge and/or have other unhealthy issues with food or exercise. Where the people who are eating normally are likely making some unhealthy choices, it balances out over time and overall they are healthier in body AND MIND.  Diet's don't work!  If they did it wouldn't be a multi-billion dollar industry! 

    Think of a baby.  They know when they're hungry.  They cry.  We feed them...when they have had enough they turn away, or throw the food away.  They won't eat no matter how much you try to force it down their throats.  They haven't been brainwashed by society into thinking they need to eat less to be thin, or eat more to make someone happy (or because there are starving children somewhere.).  We get bombarded with messages about thinness, and dieting disguised as health.  We have been led to believe that certain foods are 'good' and others are 'bad'.  We have built up food to be our enemy.  And we have stopped listening to our bodies to tell us when we are hungry. 

    Can you imagine the relief of not obsessing about food 24 hours a day?  To eat naturally, the way nature intended us to eat?  To be able to go to a restaurant without wondering if you will be able to find something that meets your diet criteria (of course allergies and legitimate health reasons aside).

    Can you trust your own body to tell you what it needs?  Try paying more attention to what it's telling you instead of what the media, friends, family, and heck.. even doctor's sometimes, are saying.  You know what's best for you..not someone who is looking to profit off of your insecurity and vulnerability.  

  • Filipe Dias

    Hi Mary
    First of all, there's no eating naturally. Normal is a very broad term that in food consumption defines nothing. A "normal" mediterranean diet is different form a "normal" asian diet, so there's no "normal" diet, only patterns on what people eat.
    Second, and a common misuse of the word everywhere, is that everyone follows a diet. A diet is not a program where you can eat this and that and not that to achieve certain results, but that is only the change to a different diet. So a diet is the general intake of food and patterns of a person, and when that is changed substancially, for whatever reasons, one is only changing to a different kind of diet.
    Unfortunately that word is used to portray something that is being devoided of meaning and made confusing. Even doctors misuse the word constantly, which is a shame as it leads to misinformation.
    Humans as omnivoures have the means to consume many different types of food, but that doesn't mean they are made to eat everything altogether and be fine with it. Every food we eat has pros and cons, that's why common sense and science focus on having a varied diet, so that we can dodge a concentration of "cons" from the food we eat. I very much agree with you 100% on tackling the idiotic labeling of healthy food and unhealthy food, because there's no such thing.
    As I said before, it's quantities and patterns of the food we eat that's the issue, together with lifestyle, genetics, and other things, that make a person healthy or not.

    The other issue you raise is due to the food industry and promotion. Everyone is influenced in some degree to what people eat and is sold. Vulnerability and insecurity are tackled by learning about the field and getting reliable information from multiple sources. Those who do not do that are likely bound to develop eating disorders, but one can have such even when  not following a specific diet as well. The same point here, a varied diet helps to prevent gaps in one's diet because it makes it more unlikely to miss out on something needed. It's not that a varied diet is the best diet, it's just that by eating a bit of everything it substancially lowers the chances of missing out on something.

  • Filipe Dias

    Because everyone is talking about this diet is better than that or this is bad to eat or things like so, let me just refresh on some of the data on this infographic.

    Being in the group of "I eat everything" doesn't make you less ealthy than being on another kind of diet. The vast majority of people fit in there, which has people who eat everything but are in excellent health, are knowledgeable and make decisions on what they eat, how and how much, but in that group there's also the people who are very unhealthy, who eat any garbage and know nothing/don't care, about nutricion.
    If you follow a specific diet, which makes you a minority, not only will you already be interested in nutrition, health and lifestyle empowerment, but the lower numbers accentuate the average results.
    It's actually stated in there, that it's not so much about the diet one follows but how one thinks about food.

    So if you're in the "eat everything" group, like I am, you won't die earlier or be less healthy than the other groups. It all depends on many things on which food is only a part of the mix.
    What is healthy depends on quantities, lifestyle and many things, it is not a black and white figure, so don't treat it like that.

  • Josh Rotenberg

    amen   and  I've been strict paleo for almost 6 months with 3 - 5 days a week involving bacon into my meals. Dropped 40 pounds 4 inches in my waist and am healthier than ever before. Should also mention that I do crossfit 5 days a week ;)

  • Filipe Dias

    It's good to know that those changes have been having good results on your health and quality of life.
    All the best.

  • Josh Rotenberg

    Probably also should have mentioned that I was uncomfortably hypertensive and had high cholesterol. Both of which are low now. So in my case losing weight and changing my diet made me more healthy than I was.

  • Filipe Dias

    I second Andrew Cayer on this.
    A common fallacy.
    A starving person also loses weight, doesn't mean he has better health.

  • Andrew Cayer

    Please don't equate losing weight with being healthy. I'm not saying you're not healthier, but one doesn't always follow the other.

  • jbermudez5

    I pted fo paleo,  dropped grains, legumes, sugar. I  eat bacon frequently as well a sones of veggies and meat, fish and chicken.  

    People look down on bacon, but I rather eat bacon than beans, or whole wheat.  Common wisdom is that fat makes you fat, and what makes you fat are insuline spikes so starchy veggies (potatoes), beans, will make you fatter than eating bacon. 

    Also, I would go with bacon over any food containing significant amount lectin (grains/beans).  Natures own pesticide, a carb-binding protein that causes havoc in your intestinal linning. 

    I am all for salads :)  but placing bacon as 3.2x less healthier is a bit misleading, just watch your omega 3vs6 ratio.  

    Fat can be good.  :)  and it is definetly better that soy, beans and whole grains.  

  • Tom van Rheeden

    Wow, it's kind of staggering that Massive Health is making these claims based on their available data.