The Gender Food Gap

By: Michele Wolfson

It's been said that "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus" and if you're a gal who has heard your man's impatient foot tapping at the bottom of the stairs while you're trying to get ready to go out for the evening- you might feel that this observation holds water. It's gotten to a point where I am toying with the idea of forcing my boyfriend to walk around in high heels just for five minutes so he can have a small glimpse of what it's like to be a woman. Since the thought of an iron meeting one of his shirts is outlandish, I'm guessing that he wouldn't last 5 seconds.

Do these kinds of differences between men and women make it acceptable for food advertisers to target genders? We've heard the phrase "real men don't eat quiche" and women are usually targeted with diet foods like Lean Cuisine or Weight Watchers, but could it be possible that these gender specific food ads are hindering the health of both sexes?

Studies suggest that health problems that men are facing today are due to their tendency to gravitate towards foods high in trans-fats and refined carbohydrates. Beer, chips, and fast food commercials are the main promotions throughout football games and other sporting events aired on television as well as what are being served at the arenas.

Food ads geared towards women are notorious for exploiting female insecurities. The high artificial sweetener problem related to "low fat" has increased in concern. A common belief amongst nutritionists is that the more 'diet' ingredients that a product contains, the more unnatural it is, and the less the body knows what it's supposed to do with it. The phrase "low fat" means that those foods are packed with sugar and usually contain artificial sweeteners. Sugar has been getting a lot of negative press and is now villainized more than fat because consumers are becoming more educated on what they are putting into their bodies and the repercussions.

Paleo-dieters believe eating habits for men and women goes all the way back to primitive times when main staples were grass-fed meat, fish, and lots of fruit, vegetables, and nuts. The increasingly popular diet promotes the notion that this way of eating is just as relevant today.

Historically, men needed high-energy, high-protein foods like meat to fuel their hunting expeditions more than women who stayed home. However, at the beginning of the 1900's and especially towards the 1960's, women began to work outside of the home and certain models of gender specifications have changed. While each gender may have distinct nutritional needs (women in particular require calcium and iron), everyone should be eating a well balanced diet that is high in fruits and vegetables. Now the battle of the sexes is for men and women to focus on consuming what is good for their bodies. Men might need to eat more salad and women potentially need to focus on munching on more protein.

Photo: Malingering

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