The Gender of Food

gender food

Is there a gender based preference for food? Do men and women have different taste buds or is it just a cultural thing?

When asking a girl what’s her favourite food, “chocolate”, “ice cream” or “cupcakes” are predictable answers, while if we ask the same thing to a boy “steak”, “burgers” and “chips” are likely to be the responses. So can there be “masculine” or “feminine” foods?

Several studies suggest that women prefer sweet foods while men prefer high protein meals such as meat. While men have a lower sensitivity to bitterness- which is probably why they enjoy beer and savoury foods so much – women are more sensitive to those tastes, which take them straight to sweet treats.

Is it all about emotions and social life?

According to the research, emotions and how they affect us socially play a critical role in determining gender differences in food preferences. Socialization has been pinned as one of the main factors that determine what we like to eat.

We learn concepts and tag food with different ‘meanings’ from a very early stage on in our lives and that affects what and why we choose certain food.  We grow up watching dad having a big steak and mum having a salad, so we do so at home later on.

In many countries, meat in general and beef in particular are linked to being masculine and strong while fruits and veggies are “healthy food” that women have in order to lose weight. An Italian study suggests that health beliefs and weight control motivation may explain up to 50 per cent of gender differences in food choice. Less healthy food choices in male’s can be related to their lack of nutritional knowledge and interest in nutritional advice.

The experts found that women reported lower levels of confidence in their ability to resist eating temptations associated with emotional experiences. It sounds cliché, picturing the girl crying after a broken relationship and while hugging an ice cream bucket, no? All these stereotypes have been constantly reinforced by media, think of advertising and even food scenes in movies!

What do you think? If you’re a man, would you go for an ice cream with a friend or rather an appetizing pizza? If you’re a woman, do you order beer or rather stick to a lovely pink Cosmopolitan?


Moore, David J. Zhang, Lingling – Gender differences in food preferences: the role of emotional intensity, self-regulation, and appetitive craving.

Cammarota G., Graziani M.P., Laurino C., Pellicano M.P.- Gender differences in the eating behaviour of Italian schoolchildren.


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