One day, Molly Allen-O’Donnell, who was a grad student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, camped out in a cafeteria and watched four guys eat salads together. Wait, what?
According to her recent study, everyone, regardless of gender, eats more with women and less with men.
Her study was more elaborate than watching guys eat salads, we’re sure, but researchers do not have an explanation for this phenomenon. The theory is that diners are just following cultural codes.
“When guys are sitting down with women, they’re acting on a script of what it means to be masculine, and what it means to be masculine is to be a carnivore, to eat a lot of food,” said NPR correspondent Shankar Vedantam. “Women sitting down with men are acting on a script on what it means to be feminine, and that script, at least in our culture right now, is eat less, peck at your food.”
This makes a lot of sense, and the fine print of the study shows that men still eat more calories overall. Men ordered 952 calories on average with other men, 1,162 calories with women. Women ordered 721 calories with men, 833 calories with women.
The key is that, “context seems to matter when we sit down to eat,” said Vendantam. If you’ve ever dined with a model and felt terrible as she picked away at salad leaves, you’ll know that it is definitely true.
The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.