Are men "meat and potatoes" and women "pasta and fruit"?
From Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen
April 10, 1996
Web posted at: 10:45 a.m. EDT
Are food preferences gender-specific? Some researchers believe they are.
"He is meat and potatoes all the way, and I could eat pasta and fruit and fish every day and I'd be fine," says one woman. Her sentiments may well be echoed by many other women. Indeed, studies show men like to eat heavier foods.
"I eat salads now and then," said one man. "I start to feel like a rabbit and I don't eat them no more."
True, not all women are salad lovers and not all men love meat. But psychologist Marsha Pelchat, who researches food preferences by gender, says it appears men and women have distinctly different tastes in food.
Men are more likely to want meat, while women are less interested in meat but crave sweets. That craving seems to be linked to hormones, and fluctuates with a woman's menstrual cycle. At menopause, the desire for sweets dips dramatically.
What causes these differences?
Some of it is biological. Men usually are larger than women and have higher caloric requirements, so they can eat more than women without becoming obese. Men and women's sense of smell also is different, with women being more attuned to the smell of food.
And society also plays a role. Remember when Scarlett O'Hara was warned in "Gone with the Wind" that it was unladylike to eat a lot in public?
Many women try to follow that advice, especially when they're on a date with a man. Their food intake may increase significantly when they sup with close female friends.
Restaurants seem well aware of the differences between men and women. An Atlanta eatery that attracts mostly women has a menu full of salads -- hardly any red meat. But at a truck stop across town, they serve burgers by the dozen.
The differences between the sexes may be getting less pronounced, however. Experts say increased awareness of health issues is leading more men to order lighter, leaner meals.
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