How Your Relationship With Food Affects Your Sex Life
It goes way beyond eating aphrodisiacs.
Of course you know that there are certain aphrodisiacs that can help heat things up in bed. And then there are other foods that don’t exactly make you feel sexy (we’re looking at you, three pieces of cheesy pizza before bed). But what you may not know is that your sultry vibes don’t just stem fromwhat you eat—it stems from how you think about what you’re eating, too. We asked Alexandra Jamieson, author of the new book Women, Food, and Desire: Embrace Your Cravings, Make Peace With Food, and Reclaim Your Body, to explain how your relationship with food—not just the food itself—impacts your sex drive. And it turns out, there’s a way bigger connection than you may think.
Let’s start with this basic fact: How you think about food and how you think about sex are inextricably linked—and that’s because they both have to do with pleasure. And guess what? The pleasure link begins, not surprisingly, in your formative teenage years: “When girls are in their early teens, they start picking up on cultural cues that say they should be dieting, even though they already associate food with pleasure since they’ve been eating for their whole lives,” says Jamieson. “At the same time, young women alsostart becoming aware of the body’s ability for pleasure—but there can be a lot of shame around experiencing that physical pleasure for the first time.” So what happens is that the mixed messages around pleasure and shame become linked from an early age.
Sadly, you don’t “grow out of” the mixed messages as you age. The problem still stands with many women—and it’s rooted in the fact that they stillhave a love/hate relationship with food. “I work with a lot of women who are fighting a constant war with their bodies and with their cravings and have been since their teens,” says Jamieson. “They deprive themselves of calories as a way to feel good about themselves or because they think they should.” But going back to the pleasure thing, deprivation keeps your body in a constant state of discomfort because you want to feel the pleasure but aren’t letting yourself. And when you feel discomfort with your body, you feel it everywhere, all the time—including in the bedroom. “If you don’t feel that your body deserves pleasure, then you’ll develop a disconnect with it in all areas—and you won’t be able to feel pleasure in the bedroom,” she says.
So what can you do to get over the pleasure disconnect so that you can start enjoying food and sex more? Hint: This is not a free ride to give into all of your cravings and stuff yourself with cake to improve your sex life. There’s a healthier way to do it, and it’s a lot more nuanced. First, stop rushing your meals, and start savoring your food a lot more. “Smell it, feel it against your lips, inhale the aroma,” says Jamieson. “Slow down, and enjoy it. When your senses are fully present, you’ll feel more pleasure, and, thus, you’ll be sending a signal to your body that it deserves to feel good.” (Learn more about how to eat mindfully.)
Next up: Give in to your cravings with a friend, not alone. “Make a moment of it,” says Jamieson. “Many women give into their cravings in a guilty way, behind closed doors. They want chocolate but think it’s bad, so they just stuff it in their mouths to get it over with. You’re more likely to enjoy it if you’re with someone you love, and when you enjoy it more, you’re less likely to think that cravings are bad.” Then let the great sex commence!