Advertising can be unkind and food ads often present men in simple macho stereotypes; craving meaty, greasy and salty food. Not exactly a picture of health. So where do vegetables and fruit fit in?
- If men feel good, they may doubt their need to eat more vegetables and fruit even when they are aware of the recommendation to eat more. Males, especially young men, are generally less concerned about health issues than females and may view this health-based advice as irrelevant to them.
- Some men feel like they are already getting enough, even if this isn’t true.
- Men who have a chronic condition like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or cancer are more likely to eat vegetables and fruit than other men. They are motivated.
- Men find more motivation when they see themselves as a role model for children.
Supports: Men eat more vegetables and fruit when they…
- live with other people (especially women)
- have a higher income and more education
- are physically active and don’t smoke
- have good mental health
- have enough food to eat (they are food secure)
- have the skills to prepare and cook them
Barriers: Vegetables and fruit may be seen as…
- too expensive
- time consuming and inconvenient to prepare
- not filling or satisfying enough
- not masculine
So…what does all this research mean? It means that men (typically) need to feel that eating more vegetables and fruit is relevant and meaningful to them. They need to have the knowledge, motivation and supports in place to take action and overcome the barriers to healthier eating.
When it comes to healthier eating, we don’t have to change everything. Remember that small changes can really add up. For breakfast try adding a handful of berries to your cereal. Bring some cut broccoli and carrots with a dip to work to munch on. Try ordering half fries, half salad if you eat out for lunch. For dinner, try throwing some sliced zucchini, pepper and mushrooms on the grill beside your meat.
For me, I’ve found that being part of a weekly veggie box program gets me eating more vegetables than I otherwise would. For our male readers, I’d love to hear what helps you eat more vegetables and fruit. Take a moment to share your comments on this post, or on social media.
Canadian Men’s Health Foundation: Don’t change much
Canadian Men’s Health Foundation: Who Wants to Count Servings Anyways?
Canadian Produce Marketing Association: Half Your Plate
Northern Health: Northern BC Man Challenge
Statistics Canada: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Stats 2001 to 2013