It is a cause of concern for many that some parents raise girls to be self-aware of the consequences of food that they are consuming while at the same time seem to encourage boys to consume as much as they can. This raises gender equality issues and concerns; “Why can’t a girl eat as much as a boy? How fair is that?” or, “I will never discourage my girl from eating to her heart’s content, that’s wrong and unfair”. These concerns are justifiable. There many trends in our society that yield inequalities to women, that every issue seems to be able to be fixed with complete gender equality. With so many issues and so many concerns, a blanket solution has been laid out and is expected to fix the problems.
I understand the feminism movement. I definitely did not used to, I was under the assumption that feminists believed that women had such an amazing potential and are such a deeply complicated and underrepresented member of society and have the ability to be superheroes. Men are men. But women are the true heroes of our day, with their hidden and unappreciated strengths and gifts and talents. Boys will be boys. But women… And so on.
This is not the feminist movement.
The movement is for gender equality. For equal opportunities for both genders. It is silly and it is petty to not pay either gender the equivocal amount of salary for the same job. It is silly and it is petty to deny either gender opportunities to succeed based purely on the biological or social gender they represent. The purpose of the feminist movement is to bring to light how ridiculous it is to undermine the talent of any individual and the passion of any individual based on something they had no part in deciding for themselves. We lose as a society when we categorize people and inhibit their potential.
This all being said, there is a substantial however. Now, bear with me. Sometimes, sometimes, gender equality is not a good thing. Because sometimes complete gender equality inhibits the opportunity for gender equity. And ultimately, it’s gender equity that the movement is pushing for. Equal treatment for all to afford equal opportunity.
I am a believer that in some situations, gender equality must be sacrificed in order to pursue equity.
Such situation includes nutrition and diet.
Now, back to the parent example. This situation can be perceived as purposeful inhabitation of gender equality, but I believe it is also a way of parents identifying that metabolisms are different for boys and girls, and this is a way that they are training their female children to be aware of this before they are faced with the consequences of this unequal metabolism. Gender equity won’t be afforded if gender equality is pursued; because the issue is unequally represented between the genders to begin with. So, naturally, the individual must be addressed instead of lumped together.
Is it actually true that the metabolism is different between the genders?
Short answer: yes. Alright, you can stop reading now.
Long and more interesting answer;
Chantal Vella and Len Kravitz, Professors from the University of New Mexico, presented research titled Gender Differences in Fat Metabolism, and essentially supported my hypothesis on metabolic rates being gender dependent. Vella and Kravitz studied hormones, particuarily sex hormones and the effect they have on lipid storage on various parts of the body. The results yielded that, “Estrogen has been found to inhibit the hormone LPL which is responsible for the breakdown of TG in the blood stream for storage in adipose tissue or fuel for active tissues”.
Because the bodies of women and males have evolutionarily, physiologically, naturally, any kind of “-ally” suffix one might attach, different “purposes” for life (women to carry and support a child and men to do whatever they do), it is only natural that the woman functions gastronomically different than a male in order to support this functioning. Estrogen, the female-specific hormone, naturally instructs the body to store a higher amount of fat in the female in order to increase the chances of reproductive success in a woman. Estrogen does this by enticing fat storage in the hips and thigh regions of the woman, as opposed to the abdominal regions that are targeted by fat in males. This is because it is more difficult to burn fat in the hips and thigh regions, and therefore the likelihood of the fat being protected for longevity sake is greater than if the fat were stored in the abdomen such as in males.
One might argue that then this isn’t an issue of metabolism as much as location. However, because the fat that is stored in a woman remains for longer because of location, it is easier to build up. Therefore, Vella and Kravitz state that “although the mechanisms are unclear, the findings suggest that a lower resting fat metabolism may contribute to the increased fat storage in women as compared with men”. Summary: they hypothesize that Estrogen and lower fat metabolism rates go hand in hand in order to promote more storage in women than in men. “The bottom Line: There are distinct differences in the mobilization, metabolism, and storage of fat between genders (summarized in Table 1).”
Perhaps we accredit societal influences on the ideal body type for a woman with having the most impact on women consciously not eating as much as men. Perhaps we disregard the fact that the body of a woman is not made to support as much food as the body of a man, and it is hard on the body if the genders were to consume the same amount of food. I believe that those two concepts go hand-in-hand to influence the food awareness that is more prevalent in females then in men.
Discipline is something to be respected, and discipline can extend to food consumption. There is a greater risk for excess food consumption in females than males due to metabolic rates differing, and because food is something that increases Serotonin levels, it is an engaging experience to consume food. Therefore it takes discipline to eat the correct amounts of food for the body, and deny the promptings of Serotonin. So instead of solely attributing food-consciousness in females to the societal normatives of the “perfect body type”, it can be positive in that it shows discipline. I do acknowledge that media has a great and profound impact on women body perception; but I am also suggesting that perhaps food-consciousness for females is not entirely a negative concept.
In order to promote this equity over equality, I have formulated a sample 7-day diet plan for a woman and a 7-day diet plan for a male. They both follow vegetarian diets, which is something that pertains to me.
First: some basic nutrition.
Carbohydrates: the body’s most efficient way to get everything it needs. It is produced by plants through photosynthesis, and is made of compounds of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen called sugars. These compounds attach together and create chains of carbohydrates, referred to as “complex carbohydrates”. They are better known as “starches”. During digestion, enzymes break down the complex chains back to simple sugar, which are then able to pass into the bloodstream through the intestinal wall for distribution to the body. The metabolism kicks in and transforms the simple sugars into energy.
Fiber: suuuuper long chain of complex carbohydrates that do not fully get digested due to the length. They eventually make their way down to the colon. Dietary fiber is present in all plant tissues.
Fats: a major source of long-term energy that do not get metabolized as fast as sugars. Saturated fats are those that are solid at room temperature and are more commonly located in animal tissues. These are the “bad for you fats”, because they tend to clog arteries and yield no energy advantage. Unsaturated fats, the “good for you fats”, are liquid at room temperature and are found in plants. I promise this isn’t a ploy to get you to become vegetarian, it’s just fact. Our body is able to synthesize most of the fat it requires form carbohydrates, allotting them the term “nonessential fats” because they don’t need to be eaten to give us what we need.
Proteins: they provide the foundational support for the structural parts of our bodies. They are built by combinations of the 22 animo acids, and are gathered from all foods including both plants and animals. Many of these amino acids our bodies can make from scratch. Only 8 of the 22 are essential amino acids and must be obtained through gastronomic ingestion.
Water: yields no caloric energy, but actively participates in cell formation and is the environment in which the cells live. So…pretty important, yeah.
Vitamins: they are organic compounds that are made useful only by plants and bacteria (excepting vitamin D, which can be metabolized by mammals with the assistance of sunlight).
Minerals: they come from inorganic matter, namely The Earth. Metabolic reactions take place in the thousands to yield these minerals; the most common of which are iron and calcium.
This is a pretty widely-accepted chart for men and women that would effectively deal with the metabolisms on a individual basis:
This is my proposed, samply 7-day plan for a female. The brunt of this comes from https://happydietitian.wordpress.com/category/nutrition/, so take a look there for more information. I used MyFitness Pal to calculate the nutrition values for each food.
This is my proposed plan for the 7-day diet for Males. This plan is based on information gather from the website https://www.eatthismuch.com, which I highly recommend as a good resource for meal planning and diets.
More protein is required for males than for females because of the nature of the male metabolism. The muscular system of the male is more engaged in activities than the system of females, and thus more compromised, and because of such, the foundational protein is needed in a greater quantity for males than for females. Male metabolism also requires more fat, because the fat storage tends to be in areas of the male body that burn fat easily. Female metabolisms store fat in hard to burn places so as to prepare the body for reproduction and supporting life for two. Therefore, less fat is necessary for females, because it doesn’t burn as fast as for males. Carbohydrates should make up 70-80% of the diet for both males and females, and is therefore higher for males naturally to compensate for the increased need for fat and protein.
Yes, gender equality is very very important. It leans toward naivety to believe otherwise in our modern society. In the past, when societal duties required more physical labor or riskier tasks, it made sense to divide jobs by gender and allow the more naturally physically inclined male gender to take the brunt of these tasks. Our society has moved toward the white collar jobs now, the tasks that require more intellectual effort than physical. This is something that can be applied–and should be applied–equally to both genders.
But gender equality at the expense of gender equity? It’s counterproductive. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the task of trying to make everything equal and become offended and defensive when things are not. Concerning diet and nutrition, it’s going to be very difficult to work against nature and biology. Metabolism is something that cannot be guilt-tripped into changing.
“A Lesson in Nutrition.” Dr McDougalls Health Medical Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2015.
Berglund, Anders, Angelo Bisazza, and Andrea Pilastro. “Armaments and Ornaments: An Evolutionary Explanation of Traits of Dual Utility.” Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 58.4 (1996): 385-99. Web
Shields, Stephanie. “Functionalism, Darwinism, and the Psychology of Women.” American Psychologist30.7 (1975): 739-54. Web.