The average life expectancy of women is greater than men in any country on this earth. What can be the reason for this stark difference? While stress, workplace exposures or body physique might be on the cards, the main reason why women lead longer lives is because of their eating habits. It is not manly to visit the doctor, sweets are down the priority list on a man’s menu and many more such ideologies affect the way in which a man or woman eats.
We may speak of equality and the power of feminism, but are we aware that even everyday eating habits are categorized as masculine or feminine? Nibbling on green salads or a portion of millet is feminine, whereas attacking large portions of red meat is said to be manly. This gender bias is restricted not only to eating but is prominently visible in other domains as well. For instance, a woman is present in every possible advertisement, right from ads on shaving foams to dhotis, but a man acts in an ad that seems to be manly, maybe for iron rods or racing bikes.
This gender-based eating is one of the reasons for higher rates of cardiovascular diseases and cancers among men (huge portions of red meat increases risk of diseases) than women. But how does eating meat negatively affect the health of men?
Eating Nutritious Foods: Man Vs Woman
Overall, women eat healthier foods than men. Individuals perceive spicy, tangy and energy-rich food as masculine foods and sweet, subtle foods as feminine foods. People try to guess the gender of a person depending greatly on food choices! Would you like to have a wine or beer with dinner? Prefer to eat fruits or French fries with lunch? Studies prove that men prefer to eat a burger with French fries for lunch, or have a pizza with beer for dinner. Women, on the other hand, eat pasta salad and fruit for lunch, or wheat and vegetables with wine for dinner. Nutritionists/dietitians strictly condemn people from combining hamburgers with soda. Find the reason behind this advice at www.firsteatright.com.
These choices convey one message clearly: women choose foods loaded with fiber and antioxidants while men choose foods high on saturated fats and empty calories. Women may choose healthy foods because of health-consciousness, an urge to look slim and trim or an overall belief in eating good food to live longer.
Since old age, the division of labor was gender-biased. Men went to the forest to hunt and collect meat while women were allocated the role of bringing up children and cooking the hunted food. Although today’s generations do not stress much on eating for the sake of masculinity, individuals with more traditional gender beliefs are inclined towards consuming more meat as they believe that eating large meat portions is synonymous with power and performance. But sadly, this leads to a number of health problems reducing the life span of a male person.
Removing Gender-based Eating Styles
Once we realize the effect of gender-based eating choices on health, it becomes easier to make healthy food choices. Questioning yourself on your choice of food can also make you choose healthier foods. Ask yourself, “Am I choosing this only because it seems to be masculine?” or “Is it because friends/family would think that I am a macho man?”
If cooking is a woman’s job, why are restaurants dominated by male chefs and cooks? Men who perceive cooking as a woman’s job can give it a man’s touch by establishing themselves to be gourmets who cook and clean with efficiency and a modern touch.
In a nutshell, men choose unhealthy foods to prove masculinity. Foods packaged in masculine packaging have greater selling ratio among the male population. Healthy foods in feminine packaging lure woman buyers. It’s basically the purchasing psychology that affects healthy eating patterns.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.