Food Sabotage: The Complex Relationship Between Women and Food


Ale Lossing, Staff Writer

 Studies have revealed women, compared to men, show different behaviors when it comes to their relationship with food. Evident by the growing instances of eating disorders and the multi-billion dollar diet industry, it is not surprising that women view food and eating in a very complicated, and often destructive way.

      Having a relationship with food not only takes a physical effort but an emotional one too. Women tend to look more at the caloric input of different food items, consciously making a choice to intake either high or low amounts of calories, whereas men tend to not put so much thought into what they are eating. “I don’t really have to worry about what I eat or about gaining weight since I exercise. I always think about how I’m young and I should just live my life and eat what I want,” said junior Jacob Israel. 

    Women tend to fall into this neverending fear to connect to food, affecting the way they think about eating. “Whenever I eat something that isn’t particularly ‘healthy’, I’m just thinking of ways on how to burn it off later. I feel like I’m not able to enjoy my meal because of my constant worrying,” said senior Katelyn Burless. 

     The stereotype of a woman needing to cook dinner and prepare meals for their family is very much still alive, which results in women spending even more time thinking about food and planning for their next meal.  In addition to working outside of the home, grocery shopping and meal planning is part of their day. “What should I cook for dinner tonight?” or “What do I need to pack for my kids’ lunches for tomorrow” are some of the many questions the majority of mothers think while working, bringing to light how the thought of food is wired into a woman’s system. “While I’m working I always think about the next meal, not even for myself, but for my children,” said Ms. Christina Larsen, who works in student services. 

     Statistics show that women are more likely to be affected by eating disorders and that they are more common in adolescent girls. During this age, it is easy to be influenced and with the rise of technology and social media, teenage girls are faced with the unrealistic expectation of “what a woman’s body should look like”. The false appearance of body image on social media has created young girls to feel like they have to restrict their food and begin dieting. During adolescence, teenagers start to feel like the only control that they have during their life at the time, is their bodies. They use starvation or binging as a way of control, not realizing it is a form of self-harm. 

     On a podcast called “This American Life”, an older woman named Audrey talks about her experience with food guilt. In the podcast, she recalls a time when she was a teenager and was taunted by a man while walking to a restaurant that she purposefully chose far away from her college. “I was embarrassed because I thought ‘now he knows where I was going’; he knows I was going to eat. I thought that was the problem,” said Audrey.

     In the “This American Life” podcast, the woman describes women who don’t have eating disorders, as “normal women who are worried about eating” saying, “It’s such a lonely experience going through daily restriction purge and forming all the behaviors of a normal diet without anyone catching on.”