Food Nation

Study Finds Women Think About Food Almost as Often as Men Think About Sex

On Monday The Daily Mail reported on a recent study of 5,000 men and women conducted by UK based Shape Smart that found that while men are thinking about sex (36 percent fantasize every half hour), women are focused on food--nearly a quarter of female participants reported thinking about food at least once every 30 minutes. Suddenly, Cook Your Way Into Her Pants doesn't seem quite so absurd.

  • 36 percent of men think about sex every 30 minutes
  • 5 percent of men think about sex every minute
  • 10 percent of women think about sex every 30 minutes
  • 25 percent of women think about food every 30 minutes

From the perspective of evolutionary psychology - the theory that much of human behavior is the result of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve problems in ancestral environments - these results are not surprising. If the history of mankind were condensed into one hour, the women's movement would have occurred only a nano second ago. Throughout the ages the predominant role of women in society has been raising children, caring for the home, and preparing the meals. The men would hunt, the women would cook. The best homemakers and cooks were more likely to be chosen as mates (survival of the fittest), these traits were passed down to offspring, yada, yada, yada, we're forever planning our next meal. As one writer for Jezebel put it:

"I think about food all the time, like a middle-school boy thinks about sex. Or, rather, like Oliver Twist thought about food. I wake up thinking about all my breakfast choices and despair when I have no appetite. I plan vacations around restaurants, carry snacks and have a mental map plotted of New York with every delicious snack and edible destination highlighted in bold. At any given moment my brain scan would be some combination of 'best brownie recipe that barbecue place in Alabama that plum I had once would chicken work with membrillo maybe I have time to bake a pie.'"

This line of thinking is in direct conflict with modern images of women portrayed by the media and fashion industry, possibly responsible for some of the more disturbing findings in the study related to women and food. In a nutshell, we can't stop freaking thinking about food that we can't eat if we want to fit into that pair of size 2 skinny jeans. We don't enjoy eating in public for fear that we'll be perceived as a pig, and any indulgence is quickly followed by feelings of shame.

  • 60 percent of women in relationships do not feel comfortable eating in front of their partner
  • 50 percent of women in a relationship feel uncomfortable about getting undressed
  • 40 percent of women feel like they are always dieting or are constantly concerned about their weight.
  • 13 percent of women choose low calorie foods in restaurants instead of what they really want.
  • 15 percent of women eat junk food in secret (and 10 percent lie about it)

What's the answer? That's the million dollar question, but according to nutritionist and behavioral therapist Mary Strugar, starvation is not it: "The role of appetite is key to weight loss and a detrimental cycle of food restriction that causes hunger pangs may lead directly to overeating." Learning to love our curves couldn't hurt either.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Marmaduke
Contact: Lauren Marmaduke