Guilt? New survey says religious people show more remorse from eating

Published on Friday, 1 August 2014 23:52 - Written by Rebecca Hoeffner

Feeling guilty about your eating habits? You might be religious, according to a new survey from the Barna Research Group.

According to the research, 55 percent of Christians expressed concern about their eating habits, compared to Americans who adhere to a faith other than Christianity (42 percent) or to no faith at all (41 percent).

“Those who attended church within the past month (56 percent) also tend to be more concerned about eating too much than marginally churched (46 percent) and unchurched (40 percent) adults … Compared to adherents to non-Christian faiths (47 percent), more practicing Christians (63 percent) report feelings of food guilt. And there may be something to the notion of ‘Catholic guilt,’ since even more practicing Catholics — 65 percent of them — say they feel guilt related to eating.”

East Texas Christians express the same guilt; the Rev. Jorge Dinguis, Parochial Vicar of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler said that sometimes members of his congregation will even mention overeating in confession.

“I think it comes from the very fact that sometimes we overeat to cope,” he said. “After the fact, maybe I realize I acted imprudently. That is one of the major sins, gluttony. We eat to live, we don’t live to eat … For us as Catholics, everything is a matter of moderation.”

According to the research, 47 percent of Americans are concerned they eat too much.

“With growing knowledge about food and its effects on health, and the availability of so many online resources and diet apps, it comes as no surprise that younger adults are more concerned about how much they eat, and what they eat, than older adults,” the report reads. “Millennials — born between 1984 and 2002 — are the generation most likely to say they are very or somewhat concerned about how much they eat (57 percent). In contrast, far fewer Elders — born in 1945 or earlier — express concern about eating too much (30 percent). Gen-Xers (49 percent) and Boomers (44 percent) fall between these extremes.”

Americans cite a variety of factors that get in the way of eating healthily.

“Gen-Xers (45 percent) and Millennials (43 percent) are more likely than average (35 percent) to say that busyness is a big factor,” according to the report. “This makes sense, given that many in these age segments are in the thick of career development and raising children, two pursuits that demand extraordinary investments of time and energy. Millennials (36 percent) and women (31 percent) are more likely than average (24 percent) to say they have a hard time eating their ideal diet because other family members don’t like it.”