[Notice any differences?]
To be honest, despite my infatuation with health, nutrition and food, I rarely breach the subject when in the company of males. In my unfortunate experiences, most men have their minds made up on how they feel about so-called “health foods”. I’m talking about organic, all-natural, grass-fed, foods- all that good stuff. The reality appears that the male perception of these foods is not very positive. In fact, I am usually confronted with demeaning statements which attempt to liken these foods to something no “real man” would eat. Well guys, in the safety and comfort of my iPad, here is my attempt to breach the subject and enlighten you to rethink your preconceived notions of “health foods”.
As I mentioned above, being health conscious, when referring to organic, all-natural products seems to have a rather negative stigma amongst a large portion of the male population. As it appears in my own experiences, buying and eating such food items has become synonymous with being “fruity”, a “tree-hugger”, or simply not very masculine to many men. This is rather unfortunate, as research continues to feed us the benefits of eating produce and protein lacking pesticides and raised on appropriate sources of food, enabling it to maintain vital vitamins and minerals for proper body function. No one should feel compelled, subconsciously or not, to eat one way or another due to the so-called stereotypes which may surround certain food products.
Thus, I believe it is necessary to redefine what it means to eat healthfully, and to rid this “lifestyle” of its arbitrary associations. It isn’t men’s fault that they may feel as though they are giving up some sense of their masculinity by eating allegedly “girly” health foods such as free range eggs, raw cheese, grass fed chicken and organic sprouted bread. The media and the food industry have not appropriately marketed these to appeal to both genders, and as a result, the health of our most powerful and important men (all men, of course!) might suffer. And not because they don’t care, but because they have been unconsciously conditioned to think such health food items are not appropriate to maintain their status and position within society as a strong and powerful male figure.
So how have these foods been marketed in a way that has led much of the male population to shy far far away from them? And what can we do to disassemble this faulty connotation? If you take a look at most products which are labeled all-natural, organic, grass fed, free range, etc. – the packaging is often reminiscent of “earth friendly” or “sustainable” or “green”, as these products happen to be produced in a manner which is not only beneficial for human health, but also the health of the planet. Thus, these products become aligned with the green, environmentalist movement, which is often seen as a movement driven by individuals going against the mainstream, women, “hippies”, etc. While to me, this is a blatant stereotype and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, as such practices are beneficial to all, it appears that for men who wish to maintain a fairly neutral identity (in the sense that they are not trying to attract attention to themselves and generate “noise” through their actions and beliefs) are in general, not the biggest fan of most things which “go against the grain”. And because these health foods have become aligned with a less mainstream movement, a large proportion of men might not want to partake as a means of staying true to whatever they believe their male identity to be, and as a means of avoiding “making a statement”. In fact, if the majority of the stores today are selling cheap, mass-manufactured steaks injected with hormones, and gallons of milk from the same hormone-pumped cows, it is my guess that the men to which I have been referring, will probably want to play it safe and stick with the status quo; they will probably prefer to eat cheap meat and milk for dinner, rather than run the risk of looking “fruity” for going against the grain, choosing to spend more on a high quality meat from a grass fed cow.
But again, this isn’t their fault, and it’s probably an unconscious tendency rather than a conscious decision – these niche food industries have positioned themselves in such a way which is more so in accordance with social norms for women, and so-called “individualists” , and not for a large majority of men. Again, I am not trying to say that all men are sheep and are blindly following social norms and do not make decisions for themselves or form their own opinions and identities, yet I am simply offering an explanation for the existent phenomenon in which a large majority of men object to these health food items. And I so badly wish they would not!
This “phenomenon” has a striking semblance to how Coca Cola ran a completely new marketing campaign with an entirely new product, Coke Zero, as a means of attracting more male consumers who desired the “supposed benefits” (don’t get me started!) of zero calorie soda but were not as anxious to purchase diet coke, with its stigma of “the girly diet drink”. And it worked – now plenty of males don’t think twice about grabbing that coke zero off the shelf, their manhood still intact.
So what should be the new face of health foods? Well, lets market these foods with the truth, the truth as it pertains to what is of interest to this man of America, he who subconsciously strives to just simply be a man (whatever sociological norms and values that might entail…). Let me indulge you in the benefits of REAL food for REAL men (all men!):
– more quality proteins in grass-fed beef and free range chicken and eggs for muscle re-synthesis for improved recovery and performance
– more CLA (conjugated linoeic acid) for fat loss and muscle building in grass fed beef
– improved ratio of omega 6:omega 3 for preventing inflammation in grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish
– real sources of real fat in raw dairy products to enable body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, as a means of enhancing cellular functions
– lower incidence of diabetes by eliminating refined carbohydrates
– greater level of antioxidants in organic produce for disease prevention
The benefits are endless…I could go on and on….but c’mon guys, be a “man” and eat some real food! Do it for yourselves. Oh, and for your girlfriends or wives or mothers who so deeply care about your health and happiness! I promise, you will feel better and look better than ever.
You ate your veggies when your mom told you to…now eat real food!
[no wonder you poor men feel like eating healthy isn’t manly!]