There is an undeniable relationship between our sexuality and the food we eat. And somehow, for millions of Americans we have lost our way on our search for sexual satisfaction and pleasure somewhere in a big box of chocolate. Food has become a stand in for sex, for countless people. I know, because I have used – and I have coached countless people who are numbing their sexuality with bags of chips.
After all, it’s accessible and provides an immediate rush of pleasure. Eating compulsively can also put us in a kind of trance state and literally put our minds to sleep. It can take us away from thoughts about what we may be really wanting – such as sex.
This does beg the question: “Why are we substituting food for sex?”
Perhaps it is the usual obstacles to sexual pleasure that get in our way: Guilt, Shame and Fear.
And of course instead of owning and speaking our desire to ourselves and to our partners – we turn instead to the sensation of a crisp salty pretzel, or lick our way through mountains of ice cream (just this once).
Humans are sensation seekers. Why do you think that “Pop Rock” Candies that explode in your mouth are such a hit? We crave sensation, pleasure and something we just can’t name as we reach compulsively for the next great snack food. We want textures. We want our food to amuse us and offer us pleasure. But have you noticed that it never really works? Perhaps for a moment, that initial rush of pleasure and sensation almost hits the mark. And if it doesn’t quite do it, we are off and running for something else…maybe this time we will try hot and spicy?
The truth is that what we are really wanting is not going to be found in our refrigerator, and that “Peak Experience” is never anything that we can feel good about in the morning. Instead, those old friends come back and visit anyway: Guilt, Shame and Fear – and this time it is about what we ate instead of our unfilled sexual desires.
The goal is for a chocolate chip cookie to be just a chocolate chip cookie, to be enjoyed for the cookie’s sake. Not as a replacement drug to help you forget your sexual loneliness, or a poor stand in for sexual pleasure.
When we open our own private Pandora’s Box and begin to explore that it might not be about the food, but something bigger and even more primal and forbidden than that chocolate-dipped doughnut, we are making a tremendous first step into filling the holes that are preventing our stomachs from telling us that we are full.
Stepping forward and saying that it is not about the food, but that our disordered eating (no matter how that manifests) is about how we stop ourselves from really going deep in our relationship with our partners, our own bodies and our sexuality can be incredibly scary. There is no way that we cannot touch upon the deepest of issues in our lives (and there are few things as central as sex and food) without feeling uncomfortable.
So go slow, and get support.
Difficult and sensitive issues are sure to surface. But that is where we find our freedom, and eventually touch our bliss.
When we are trapped in a relationship with food as a replacement for anything other than the food – it’s just that. A trap.
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