When women eat with men or in mixed gender groups they tend to choose food with significantly lower caloric value than would if dining alone or exclusively with other women. The study, conducted by Meredith Young, a PhD candidate at McMaster University, has an explanation:
The diet industry targets female consumers and product advertisements typically depict very slim models rather than average-sized or overweight female models, she says, so food choices appear to be weighed against how other perceive them. In other words, smaller, healthier portions are seen as more feminine, and women might believe that if they eat less they will be considered more attractive to men.”It is possible that small food portions signal attractiveness, and women conform, whether consciously or unconsciously, to small meals in order to be seen as more attractive,” says Young.
Men eat what they want regardless of whom they are dining with.
As for men’s food selections, the study showed that men were neither substantially affected by the number of nor the gender of their dining companions.