It doesn't matter how many kale-and-quinoa salads you consume or steel-cut oats you spoon into your mouth; we all have a few delicious treats that we simply can't live without. It's one thing to control cravings, but what can't you give up entirely? At Eat This, Not That!, we set out to find out where Americans draw the line when it comes to their biggest guilty pleasures.
First, we compiled a master list of approximately 50 popular foods and drinks that are usually unhealthy (hence the "guilty" part). Then, we created a fun survey in which more than 10,000 people (!) designated which foods they can't live without and which ones they could nix forever. Participants could select to keep as many guilty indulgences as they wanted—hey, some of us are more tempted than others, after all!—and we're now revealing the top 20 indulgences. Each food or drink listed here shows how many votes it received in total, and we think you'll be surprised by the popularity of some of these vices. (Psst! Would you believe that candy, ketchup, and diet soda didn't make the top 20?! Given that they're some of the 50 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet, that's a small relief.)
We'll start at the 20th most popular vice. Can you guess the #1 vice people say they can't live without? Let the countdown begin!
This one surprised the team at Eat This, Not That! because chewing gum is notorious for causing bloat with all that extra air you're naturally sucking in; it's one of the 35 Things That Make You Bloat. That said, minty gum can help reduce other cravings and a study published in Physiology & Behavior showed that gum-chewers experience less anxiety and stress, too.
"Leggo my Eggo!" more than a quarter of the survey participants virtually responded. Whether it's homemade, from a toaster, or ordered up at local diners, waffles are apparently quite the beloved breakfast treat.
Fruit juice made it onto our guilty pleasure list because most Americans aren't squeezing it fresh, nor paying premium prices for the pure stuff. Instead, many fruit juices are spiked with loads of sugar. If you simply can't believe fruit juice is that bad for you, then find out why it's one of the 14 "Health" Foods Worse Than a Donut!
Even if you're a grill master, there are some burgers many people can't imagine never biting into again—and we totally get it. Just make sure it's an occasional indulgence and not a weekly habit, k?
Coming in at 16th place is the sneaky cupcake in disguise: the muffin. It's rare that you'll find a muffin that's anything other than a belly bomb, but if you can relate to those who can't live without 'em, then at least do some proactive damage control with these 20 Healthy Blueberry Muffin Recipes!
Mac and Cheese
For many Americans, this ooey-gooey dish is what comfort food dreams are made of…
Ah, the mighty donut! Whether it's the classic Krispy Kreme that melts in your mouth or an artisan dark chocolate variety from your local coffee shop, these treats are so tasty that 30 percent of survey participants say they'd refuse to ever give 'em up permanently.
If you thought bacon would rank as the #1 guilty pleasure, that's probably due to society's overall obsession with the stuff. In reality, more people can ditch the crispy pork than you'd think. We like to think they're opting for these 17 Genius Breakfast Ideas Diet Experts Love instead!
Barely edging out bacon, Chinese food has found a permanent spot in many Americans' hearts. Don't miss these 23 Best & Worst Items in the Asian Foods Aisle for some healthy ways to get your fix.
More popular than waffles but not so worshiped to break the top 10, pancakes are the guilty pleasure of choice for many people at breakfast time.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of potato chips! Anchoring the top 10 guilty pleasures, potato chips have a load of loyal fans who really don't mind a few greasy fingers.
With all the alternatives out there, we were a bit surprised that this empty carb got so many votes. From whole grain pasta to pulse pasta (which we're totally obsessed with!), there's really no reason to indulge in this refined, processed option.
Because a slice of birthday pie just doesn't have the same appeal…
From bread to brownies, we gave "baked goods" a spot all to itself—and an army of people admitted that they simply can't skip the bakery line.
Holy guacamole! Should we taco 'bout this surprising sixth-place finish? Nah, we understand. Let's just skip straight to the 20 Healthy Mexican Recipes!
We asked if you could give up fries forever and more than 3,500 of you said Never! Its companion, ketchup, didn't even make the top 20, though.
If America had a spirit animal, we think it might just be the Cookie Monster. These sweet treats aren't going anywhere…
Summer wouldn't be complete without an ice cream cone, bad breakups wouldn't be survived without a pint of Ben & Jerry's, and quaint towns across the country would lose some of their charm without their classic ice cream shops.
DON'T MISS: Every Ben & Jerry's Flavor—Ranked!
As the runner-up for America's biggest edible guilty pleasure, the simple chocolate bar actually offers some age-fighting antioxidants when it's made of at least 70% cacao. Most other chocolate is considered unhealthy, though, because it's usually packed with sugar, unnatural ingredients, and other preservatives. We vote that you always splurge for the good stuff instead.
All hail the mighty slice of pizza! Approximately 40 percent of our survey takers said they can't live without pizza, making it America's all-time guilty pleasure. If your mouth is watering, you can satisfy your craving with one of these 20 Healthy Pizza Recipes or by choosing our approved picks on our exclusive list of 25 Best and Worst Frozen Pizzas.