Apparently the hot new trend at the grocery stores is gender-specific food. *insert massive eye roll here*
There are breads specifically
formulated for marketed to men and women. Trail mixes. Cereals. Snack bars. Who knows what they’ll come up with next. At least, unlike many personal care products, the versions for women don’t appear to be more costly than the versions for men.
The nutritionist quoted in the CBC article raises an interesting point that I hadn’t thought of, that people might treat these foods as supplements. It’s kind of a weird notion because we dietitians are usually encouraging people to get their nutrients from food and only using supplements when nutrient needs cannot be met by food alone. To suggest that it’s concerning that people might be using food to obtain their nutrients is pretty much the reverse of what we advise. However, when they’re making claims regarding specific nutrients I can see how it might be an issue. Consuming a bread with calcium, for example, is not going to meet your calcium needs.
I wanted to compare the bread for women to the bread for men. However, these products from Stonemill Bakehouse are now defunct. All I can find are front-of-package images. The women’s wellbeing bread contains hemp and quinoa and claims to contain calcium and vitamin D. The men’s wellbeing bread contains barley and rye and claims to be high in protein and fibre. Of course, there’s nothing that makes hemp and quinoa better for women than for men, just as there’s nothing that makes barley and rye better suited to men than to women. Stonemill removed the gender-specific labelling on these breads as a result of customer backlash (go customers!). Supposedly they had customer welfare in mind when they developed these breads. I can’t help but think that money might have been a factor as well. You know, the husband needs one loaf of bread and the wife needs another. There’s two loaves of bread sold, as opposed to one. They are still selling the breads but with new labelling and amongst the wellbeing breads on their website I can’t tell which ones are the made-over sex breads.
While some micronutrient needs vary between men and women, needs between individuals of the same sex are are likely to vary more. Gender or sex specific foods are more about marketing than meeting nutrient needs. Don’t buy into the hype.