Are You Substituting Food for Sex?

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.

After all, eating is accessible and provides an immediate rush of pleasure. Eating compulsively can also put us in a kind of trance state and numb us for what we may be really wanting.

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. 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.Why is that easier for us to swallow?

Too many of us live our lives holding “Forbidden Desire” and it shuts us down all the way to our toes. You can open it up and taste your “Forbidden Fruit” in so many ways. Use it in your fantasies without shame, speak it, read about it, watch it. You can free it up whether you fulfill it or not. The cost is too high to your health, happiness, creativity, and your love life to keep it in the dark. Let the light in. You may find that you are less hungry.

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 or our repressed sexual desires.

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 Twinkie, we are making a tremendous first step into patching the holes that are preventing our stomachs from telling us that we are full.

But 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. 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, my suggestion is to go slowly. There is a wonderful free summit on eating disorders going on right now, and the talks will remain up so that you can listen in at any time. Jack into the summit. You will even meet experts who believe that it has everything to do with the food.



Ashkan G.
Ashkan G.4 years ago

It's been 2.5 years that I haven't experienced any sexual activity (even masturbation) and I am really happy with it!!...I don't know whether I am an asexual man or an alone gay boy who loves his sexual "lonesomeness".
But this 2.5 years have been the best years of my life!...I am a Mechanical Engineer, singer, writer, and a painter at the same time and willingly being abstinent from sex has given me a lot of creativity, peace, and kind disposition. So, I love keeping it this way.
Yet, I eat my food with so much pleasure and I feel that the source of this enjoyment goes back to my sexual desires. This bothers me a little bit...I want to eat my food for food...

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen4 years ago

Thank you :)

Kari Tompkins
Kari Tompkins6 years ago

So when I get the munchies, I should pounce on my husband? This could be fun!

Amanda S.
Amanda S.6 years ago

probably lol

Lisa D'arcangelis
Lisa Plunkett6 years ago

Yup. I think I'd lose some weight if I had sex instead of eating. HA!

George Payerle
George Payerle6 years ago

My friend Rooibos says "others say we should engage in sex when we'd like to with someone we like. …
Personally, I think too many people are obsessed with sex (having it or not) and we all need to realize that it's more likely to happen when we're young and less as we age (normal). All this ridiculous bullshit about " might have Low T..." on all the dick pill commercials is ludicrous. Yeah, duh. It's called aging. Mother Nature made sure to nip that little bud so that it couldn't pester as many women as the man aged (and thank GAWD for that)."

Now, I like that. Rooibos, I like your outspoken differentiation between spades and shovels, but, as a male guy, I think you are falling into the Venus flytrap of saying that men "pester for sex" and women could as well do without, thank you very much. The dick commercials are absurd, but the "others who say …" aren't wrong. Having sex when you want with someone you like is a good thing. Maybe not for everyone, but for a lot of people. I wonder if you don't make yourself out more of a thornbush than you really are.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams6 years ago

Interesting article. Thanks.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran6 years ago


Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran6 years ago


doug s.
Past Member 6 years ago

why substitute? now you can pig out on both, lol!