Must Love Food: Women Go On (and on and on) About Men’s Eating Habits

| June 6, 2011

Oh, dear. I’m back with more of my series on food and dating. Men, I’m afraid I’ve got bad news. Besides constantly having to share your dessert (“no, no, I don’t want any…YOU just order and I’ll have a teeny bit of yours”) and frequently negotiating appropriate answers to questions such as, “does this dress make my stomach pooch out?”, I hate to report I’ve uncovered another layer of the “what-the-heck-do-women-want” puzzle. (I’d say, it’s more like a labyrinth than a puzzle…or maybe a MC Escher painting – there’s really no end game.) Women have a lot a lot to say about what you eat. And how you eat it. And what you drink with it. If you already raise a skeptical eyebrow when a woman claims, “I’m pretty easy-going and low-maintenance,” these findings may change your mind for good.

Remember the guy from my article on what men think of women’s eating habits who said, “Well, she was pretty and she liked tofu and vegetables. So, I ate tofu and vegetables.”? I think this statement actually sums up the world of dating and eating. While men are focusing on what you *look* like while you eat – your (spinach-free) smile, doe eyes, flattering cleavage – or even wishing you could eat the meal standing so he could get a better look at your cute tushie, women are judging what men put *into* their mouths. Although almost every woman I spoke with started her answer with the disclaimer, “I don’t really care what a guy orders on a date,” this ALWAYS (and by “always,” I mean I had zero answers to the contrary…not a single woman ended her statement there) was followed by a “but”, “except”, “or if”, etc.

As I mentioned earlier in this series, very little research exists on what/how men eat. With women’s eating habits, there is literature on every area from eating disorders to gender politics to impressing men. Google or do an Amazon search on male eating habits and you’ll see links for man-eating tigers, porn, and a lot of results that involve the word “bad.” In short, it makes it seem like no ones cares what men eat beyond general wellness.

Oh,oh,oh. I have found a very different story. In my (highly scientific**) evidence gathering, I found the basis of a good relationship starts with what’s on the plate. Or at least, what your date transfers to your plate. Many women I spoke with claimed it was a huge turnoff when a man did not share his food. I know this will *shock* many of you, but some women read that this small act (or non-act as the case may be) had much greater significance than just food exchange. So, who cares if you haven’t eaten since breakfast and your date’s a vegetarian? You better fork over some of that sirloin unless you want to be labeled a selfish date.

Guys, it does not stop there. Let’s move on to what you drink. (Yes, really. Women are noticing. If you weren’t already neurotic about trying to decipher women, I’m really going to drive that bus home by the end of this article.) I found multiple women (um, maybe, kind of, including me…eee!) who ponder what you drink. White wine, particularly sweet white wine, was constantly mentioned as a potential turn-off. Men who know about microbrews and steer away from generic “light” beers (and, uh, diet soda) are prized as more “manly.” (I know! Women are so judge-y and terrible, aren’t they? Can’t a guy watch his waistline in peace?)

Finally, the menu. Like men (except, you know, heightened and emotionalized by about 10,000 degrees), women were less-than-thrilled by a picky eater. As one respondent said, “when a guy orders like a supermodel on a diet, it’s a serious downer.” Likewise for guys requesting salads with “dressing on the side” or “no cheese” on a sandwich. (Well, we ladies have to get our double-standard in somewhere, right?) Many non-vegetarian/vegan women were adamant (and when I say “adamant,” I mean they used words like “freaks me out,” “total turn-off,” “obliterates dining options” and “wimpy”) about not dating male vegetarians and vegans.

What WAS sexy? (At last! Some real direction!) Men who know something about food, consume vegetables and exotic or ethnic dishes without complaint or reservation, consistently out-eat their companion, and are kind to the server at a restaurant. And, of course, men who know how to cook. (Even grilled cheese was enough to arouse most women. The bar is low here, guys.) If you need further direction, Esquire magazine (clearly, the definitive source for all that is manly) actually has a “how to eat like a man” blog (review of this book on NYTimes yesterday). They know what’s up.

Men, I feel for you, I really do. Women are hard to please. Have a microbrew and a (grass-fed, organic) burger on me and relax. But, whatever you do, don’t lose your appetite. After all, I’m expecting you to order dessert.

**I dropped science classes on three separate occasions in college and have earned three master’s degrees without ever writing a thesis, so if that’s your definition of “scientific research” I’m totally golden. If not, perhaps you should not take this article too seriously.

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  1. Wow, just Wow, and that closing line, perfect. 😉

  2. Tsering says:

    Loved it… I kept saying gosh, that’s me… regarding turnoffs and turnons! hahha

  3. sweetlife says:

    great article. if one of my dates ordered a salad I think i would be turned off. hubby ordered a burger and beer on our first date, totally manly!!


  4. Miriam says:

    Great article! Made me smile :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  5. Sarah Ostman says:

    Lab42 just published a cool infographic about men’s eating habits:

  6. sophia says:

    Haha! I LOVE this! I just “liked” it and it was just so fascinating to me…and I have to say, I’m one of those women who judge a man by what he eats. Is he a vegan/health-freak? Turn-off. Is he picky? TOTAL turn-off. Does he only eat one kind of food and refuses to try other foods? Turn-off. Does he like to cook? TOTAL turn-ON.

    I’m not so picky about eating habits though. He doesn’t even have to be a foodie. He just needs to eat everything. 🙂