Thursday, November 2, 2023

Indian Women, Food, and Eating: Exclusion from the Table


Food, the Universal Code for Comfort: Addressing Anxiety and Displacement Among Women in India


Food has always been a universal language that transcends borders and cultures. It brings people together, creates a sense of belonging, and provides comfort during challenging times. However, for many women in India, food can also be a source of anxiety and displacement. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and discuss potential solutions to address these issues.

The Cultural Context

In Indian society, women are often expected to take on the role of primary caregivers and homemakers. They are responsible for preparing meals for their families, adhering to cultural norms, and maintaining traditional recipes. This pressure to conform to societal expectations can lead to feelings of anxiety and displacement when it comes to food.

Anxiety Around Food Choices

One of the main sources of anxiety for women in India is the pressure to prepare “perfect” meals that meet everyone’s expectations. Traditional recipes passed down through generations often come with strict guidelines and expectations. Deviating from these norms can be seen as a failure or a lack of respect for cultural heritage.

This anxiety is further exacerbated by the constant exposure to social media and the internet, where women are bombarded with images of picture-perfect meals and recipes. The fear of not being able to live up to these standards can create a sense of inadequacy and displacement.

Displacement from Traditional Diets

With the rapid urbanization and globalization in India, traditional diets have been gradually replaced by processed and fast foods. This shift has led to a sense of displacement among women who feel disconnected from their cultural roots.

Many women in India associate traditional foods with comfort, nostalgia, and a sense of identity. However, the availability and convenience of fast food options have made it challenging to maintain these traditional diets. This displacement can lead to feelings of cultural loss and a sense of not belonging.

Addressing Anxiety and Displacement

To address the anxiety and displacement experienced by women in India, it is crucial to promote a more inclusive and supportive food culture. Here are some potential solutions:

1. Education and Awareness: Providing education and raising awareness about the importance of diverse food choices can help alleviate anxiety. Encouraging women to experiment with new recipes while still honoring their cultural heritage can create a more inclusive food culture.

2. Redefining Perfection: Challenging the notion of “perfect” meals and embracing imperfections can help reduce anxiety. Recognizing that food is not just about taste but also about the love and care put into its preparation can shift the focus from external expectations to personal satisfaction.

3. Community Support: Creating platforms for women to share their experiences, recipes, and challenges can foster a sense of belonging and support. Online communities, cooking clubs, and workshops can provide a safe space for women to connect, learn, and grow together.

4. Embracing Technology: Leveraging technology to preserve traditional recipes and make them more accessible can help bridge the gap between traditional and modern food cultures. Online platforms, recipe apps, and cooking tutorials can empower women to explore their culinary heritage while adapting to the demands of modern life.


Food, the universal code for comfort, should not be a source of anxiety and displacement for women in India. By promoting an inclusive and supportive food culture, we can help women embrace their culinary heritage while adapting to the changing times. Education, redefining perfection, community support, and embracing technology are all essential steps towards creating a more empowering and fulfilling relationship with food. Let us work together to ensure that food continues to bring joy, comfort, and a sense of belonging to all women in India.

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