Ever wonder why men reach for meat and women reach for chocolate? Why is it that we have this perception of these gender-linked eating patterns? Does it have anything to do with our biology and what our body needs?
Study on Chocolate Cravings
In the U.S. Report, 40% of women were shown to have chocolate cravings, while just 15% of men have chocolate cravings. Even more directly, half of those women reported to crave chocolate around the time of their period.
Dr. Julia Hormes, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Albany did a study on the relation of chocolate and PMS and found out several things. Although you might think that women were somehow deficient in an ingredient that chocolate offers, this was not the case. That “hunt for chocolate” women go through, during the time of their period, Hormes attributes to social factors in America. Commercials send the message that chocolate is a way for women to deal with negative emotions. Chocolate is seen to be that indulgence, that one exception to the rule during a time of need. Interestingly, this consumer message is not spread in other parts of the world, like Europe.
Chocolate Cravings Among U.S. Women vs. European Women
In a study on appetite, conducted by the Department of Psychology at Montclair State University, it found that the cravings for chocolate by American women, around the time of their period, was at 40% while for Spanish women, it was a mere 4%. These results, therefore, tie chocolate to a cultural origin, rather than a biological basis for women craving chocolate.
Coming back around to men, and their perception of needing meat. When you think of food commercials for say, wings and burgers, what scene do you conjure up in your head? That’s it! The scene would be a group of men, sitting around watching a football game, or other sports event. Men, masculinity, and meat are all grouped together in American commercials. Unfortunately, men get the short end of the stick when it comes to them getting credit for eating healthy things such as fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, there is no biological evidence that supports men needing more meat than women, other than the fact that men need more calories a day than women. Another cultural perspective that has influenced this is the idea of men being hunters and women being gatherers.
According to the Vegetarian Times, 41% of the 7.3 million Americans who are vegan are males. And beyond that, there has become a cultural trend among vegan men to stand up for their masculine space in a plant-based diet. A book such as “Meat is For Pussies,” is a great example. Unfortunately, the general perception has become one that vegans are weak and frail, and vegan men have begun fighting this persona by posing, flexing their muscles which are covered in tattoos.
Dr. Hormes observes that we make judgment calls about people all the time based upon their food choices. This is a way of people making labels for one another and making sense of the world. However, in this every changing information-loaded society, as new research and diets are put forth, it’s about time we find a gender-neutral ground for individual’s food choices.