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Feminist text

Is nutrition a feminist issue?

From our grandparent years and beyond, it was common for families to have different meals. The mother and her children ate the same meal while the man ate the ‘better’ meal – meat, fried food- while pregnant women could not eat certain foods. In addition, women tended to the farms, milked cows and sold the produce, only to give the money to the men. They ate very little of it if any. Even today, women serve the men first.

 Now it is okay to, as long as it does not mean you skip the meal or not have enough. But although the deprivation has remarkably improved, stigmatization has pretty much replaced it. Talk of diets-nearly all targeting women. Just log on to Facebook; you are guaranteed to find more than you need. There is a common perception that a woman is beautiful if she is a certain size, eats certain food, and takes certain drinks.  As a matter of fact, you are so much a lady, come meal time. I have heard a man tell a lady friend  “that is quite a serving for a girl”. I have personally been said to be dieting when I chose to have fruits or cereals during the tea break when everyone else had bread.

It is pretty easy to become anorexic or bulimic in an environment where you have to be guarded whenever it is meal time. It is even easier to become overweight because you are more likely to use food to feed your hurt and desperation. It however makes perfect sense for entrepreneurs who have found a niche with their fad diets. So now we have products for women which do not work yet cost a fortune, but keep being bought because we keep eating a lot more than we need because of weight frustrations.

It is a vicious cycle ladies.

There is no pleasure in chronic dieting. So before you get all fixated on size 10 which you probably have never been all your life, not even in your younger years, remember your body image is so much about your self-esteem. Business people are going to be business people, and learning your consumers’ psychology is one way to have a booming business. What needs to worry you is your health. Can you go about your business, can you play with the children, can you enjoy Wednesday dance date with the love of your life and enjoy your occasional muffin to the last crumb?

Because after all is said and done, you are not a victim: just a beautiful woman who has cheat days.

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Christine Nderitu

As a licensed Nutritionist and Public Health Practitioner, Christine, helps people lead healthy lifestyles through education and behaviour change practices that are simple and practical. Her area of expertise lies not just in nutrition management but in health education and promotion in HIV/AIDS, Adolescent Health, Maternal and Child Health as well as Non-Communicable Diseases, which she has engaged in for a decade. She is also a columnist in a leading local Daily. Christine has a keen interest in Non-Communicable Diseases prevention and control. She feels that the world needs more stories that celebrate and normalize desired (good) behaviour, and humanity. “We have many preventable and often manmade public health issues today.”