With today’s focus on eating healthier for weight and health concerns, many men and women try to support each other in making better choices, only to find a difference in opinion on what they want to eat. Watch a group of young children eating. You will note that the boys are the ones that are finishing the meat and chicken on their plates, while the girls finish the rice and vegetables, leaving the meat. How many teenage girls order double-double burgers and 12-ounce steaks? You will most likely find them devouring a large salad or a box of sugar cereal.
Recent studies show that women clearly prefer fruit (especially berries and apples), vegetables, yogurt, and dry foods such as crackers and nuts. Men, on the other hand, prefer meat, pizza, and Mexican food. If they do eat vegetables, they choose Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Food preference plays a significant role in determining how we use food emotionally, as well. Women are more likely to eat high-fat, high-sugar foods to alleviate negative emotions. Men have a tendency to eat “comfort” foods as a reward, tending to choose soups, pasta, and steak. Men find it easier to say “no” to tempting foods than women, a factor that may contribute to women having more weight issues than men. Women need to increase their defenses with regard to controlling binge eating of high-fat, high-sugar foods when negative feelings occur. Men need to use some restraint in celebrating.
So why is it helpful to know these differences between men’s and women’s food preferences? By understanding the difference in eating habits, it allows you to target strategies to improve your eating. Both men and women need to eat the same basic healthy diet that is high in fruit and vegetables, incorporating the right amount of whole grains depending on weight and activity, and a moderate amount of lean protein and healthy fats. Most men really need to focus on having seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily to decrease cancer risk, as well as other health concerns. Also, it is in men’s best interest to decrease the amount of protein that they generally like to eat. Eating more than five to six ounces of protein at dinner, even chicken and fish, is not desirable because it adds extra calories that contain saturated fat. Of course, that’s the fat that causes heart disease.
Women, on the other hand, need to focus on eating adequate protein at each meal. While a green salad and fruit may be healthy choices, they are not enough to maintain blood sugars and stave off the four o’clock munchies that can drive you to a sugar binge.
So the next time you are dining out and trying to eat healthy, it means compromises for both sexes. He needs to agree to split that steak with you and finish the veggies on his plate, plus eat his salad. She needs to eat some protein and only take one piece of bread from the basket. This way both genders can have a healthy diet.