Are Your Food Cravings Sexual Desire in Disguise?

By Naturally Savvy

Alex Jamieson, Certified Holistic Health Counselor, joined Andrea Donsky and Lisa Davis on Naturally Savvy Radio to discuss the link between a desire for food and a desire for sex. 

[The following transcript has been edited for print.]

Listen to the full radio interview here.

Naturally Savvy: Are some of your food cravings actually indicating a craving for sex? It can get confusing. You know I know sometimes I am craving sex, sometimes I am craving chocolate – sometimes I am craving both... oh shouldn’t go there! [laughter] We have got the wonderful Alex Jamieson with us. You probably remember her from her award winning 2004 documentary, Super Size Me. She has been up to all kinds of awesome things since then. Hi Alex.

Alex Jamieson: Hi, how are you?

NS: We are good, we are good. I would love some sex and chocolate, but in the meantime, why don’t you talk to us about how these can get confused.

AJ: Oh, these things do get confused... and yeah, sometimes we do want them at the same time! I discovered a few years ago, that my libido and my diet were incredibly closely linked on many levels: emotionally, hormonally, nutritionally. I think a lot of people out there are suffering and feeling a lot of tied-up body shame and not realizing that a) they have permission to explore their desires and their pleasures and b) that what they are eating is affecting how they are feeling. There are a lot of layers when it comes to cravings, both for food and for pleasure - which usually means some kind of sex or intimacy.

Here is the thing. We are animals as much as we are humans. And we need touch. We need intimacy. We need other people. We know that intuitively, especially when it comes to our children (and we also see it when it comes to animals). There have been plenty of studies showing that if you remove one bunny or kitten or puppy from its litter and provide it with as many calories and nutrients as the others, because it doesn’t have that play, that intimacy, the touch of its litter mates, it won’t thrive, won’t put on weight; it will develop emotional problems.

The same thing happens with people. We forget we humans need that too. We give it to our children; we hug them, we pat them when they are not feeling well or sad, we give them a hug. But we don’t do that for ourselves. Many scientists believe that we humans need way more touch than we are getting. There is this missing "nutrient" of touch that we are all deficient in. We should be getting at least 8 to 10 hugs (of at least 10 seconds in duration) a day just to reach a baseline comfort level. If we don’t get that touch, that intimacy with people, our body will seek it through food because that’s other way that we give comfort to our body most easily.

NS: I am so under loved! [laughter] No, not under loved... I mean that many hugs! I am just thinking that it's really tough, especially if you work solo and you talk to people all day but you are not getting that physical touch. What if you have a partner who is not very affectionate, or they don’t have the same sex drive? What do you do? How do you approach this with them?

That can be challenging for sure. There is often a high-desire person and a low-desire person in the relationship, right? One person always has more desire than the other so it’s really good to just start the conversation. Maybe you've never had 'the talk': "I need more touch from you. I need more hugs; I need shoulder rubs. I need more sex or more non-sexual cuddling. I must just feel you." We absorb love from touch, some of us anyway. Some people are not touchers, not huggers. They didn’t grow up in a family where physical love - non-sexual hugs, pats, back rubs - were the norm. If this is the case with your partner, start the conversation with: "I need more touch. What would feel good and comfortable for you so that we can interact more on that level?"

If that person isn’t willing to give it to you, or they are not ready, or perhaps you are not in a relationship, then there are a lot of other ways to get that physical pleasure into your body and I have a couple of great suggestions. First is self-pleasure - and that means masturbation. I think women especially from a young age were taught that masturbation is icky and bad and "nice girls don’t do that." In actuality, masturbation is really healing, healthy and normal. It can really help to reset hormones. It can help you feel really good all over - not just physically but emotionally. It’s something that you can do alone, safely at home, or even on the road if you travel for work, for example. It’s something that you can do almost anywhere. So explore masturbation. If it’s something you have never done, look into books - there are a lot of great books out there - or websites like Good Vibrations that are great sources of education.

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NS: Yes, Good Vibrations is awesome.

AJ: Absolutely wonderful.

NS: They have such a great collection of information and support. I'm a big fan.

AJ: They are the ones that created May as National Masturbation Month. In 1995, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Surgeon General of the United Sates at the time, came out saying masturbation was a healthy thing that we should be educating kids and young adults about, and she got fired for that. Good Vibrations said, “You know what? We think May should be National Masturbation Month. There should be more education about this. When you know your own body, on a deeper level it helps us understand our very deep and wide capacity for pleasure, that our bodies are safe places to feel good in.

NS: That is such a good point. And I love what you said too about talking to our daughters about masturbation. That’s something that I had to recently had to do. Just say it’s fine, it's something you should do in your room, but it’s totally natural. If you try to shame a child, it’s not good at all obviously, and its just going to backfire. So you've got to be open about it.

Absolutely and for girls especially, when we start to come of age and realize that our bodies feel good when touched, as we start to explore our bodies, as we start to have self-agency and come into this awareness, right about the same time we start to perceive from the culture around us that sex is dangerous - from media, from movies, from people, from comments and images that we see. We start to have a very scary relationship with sexual pleasure, which overlaps with our food cravings because that’s the other way that we bring pleasure into our bodies. I go deep into this in my book, Women, Food, and Desire. I highly recommend reading it.

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NS: What is another way we can give our bodies physical pleasure?

AJ: So pleasure can also be play. In my book, Women, Food, and Desire, I talk a lot about how women tend to deny themselves fun and play until we reach our goal weight, or until we have accomplished some other goal. We put off pleasure and fun in our own lives until we have been perfect for other people. I believe that we need more play and pleasure in our lives in order to get that body and that vitality that we want. So I recommend that you stop the thinking that you need to work out. Working out doesn’t sound fun. Most people don’t enjoy it so they don’t do it. Instead I want you to go play! I want you to get some roller-skates, I want you to get a hula hoop, I want you to sign up for that dance class that you have always thought about doing. Join a bird-walking group. Do something for your body that’s fun. What do you enjoy? What’s playful for you? Is it finding a swing set that will fit an adult rear-end and swaying and just experiencing and remembering what it feels like to be playful in your body? It will light you up, and food will become a distant second when it comes to comforting yourself.

Listen to the full radio interview here.

If you would like to learn more about Alex Jamieson visit and follow her on Twitter @DeliciousAlex.

By Naturally Savvy| December 30, 2015
Categories:  Care

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Naturally Savvy

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