When I was 26, I was overweight and aware that there was a deep psychological issue about my eating and drinking; far too excessive in pursuit of the hedonistic good life, or so I believed. As I’ve penned before in blogs, I cracked the shits with myself at my large frame and vowed to change my lifestyle, shed weight and get fit. I achieved my aim within about 18 months and never again was I so overweight. That was 38 years ago. I also read a lot in various newspapers, scientific journals and magazines about a connection between weight and sex. It made for fascinating reading that focused on how people who enjoyed eating and good food, also seemed to enjoy sex more than those who didn’t really indulge in the sheer delight of culinary haute cuisine. It made me reflect more and more on sex and how the intimate connection between eating and sex is far more complex than was reported in the media; indeed, is gross over eating, particularly of all the wrong, fatty and sweet foods, and also those who don’t eat much and may be anorexic, a reflection of an unsatisfying sex life, albeit unconscious, of course?
It may be just another of my myriad of crackpot theories, but to some extent, it resonates with me as when I was at my greatest weight, a size 16 jeans and weighing in at over 11 stone, I did not have a good sex life and poured a lot of my frustration into chocolate biscuits and unhealthy food. It was not conscious at the time, but as I thought about the articles I was reading, it started to make sense to me. Yes, I was also overweight when I had a good sex life but when that became frustrating and unsatisfying with a former partner, I turned to food without realizing what I was doing. I put on weight then too, not as much as I did a few years later, but it forced me to confront how so many of us, women I think in particular (men more often seek solace in alcohol), find some comfort in an over indulgence in food of all the wrong sorts. I read about copious eating disorders that may just have some origin in sex; not always unsatisfying perhaps, but nonetheless problematic for those who use food to sublimate sexual issues. I do know two women both of whom were anorexic in their mid to late teens and one I believe is still a virgin at nearly 60 years old; the other is a woman I’ve never been able to discuss sex with, even though I’ve tried several times over the years. She does have a partner and they’ve been together for nearly 30 years but they’ve always maintained separate bedrooms. I can only ponder that one. Another female friend who is obese whom I’ve known for 45 years has never talked about sex with me in her life. I attempted to initiate a discussion just a couple of weeks ago; to no avail. She seemingly wasn’t interested in discussing it at all despite not wanting a personal discussion, just commentary and conversation on the sexual attitudes and habits of so many people these days where internet porn occupies so much attention. Maybe it is that talking about sex is still embarrassing for so many; a topic shrouded in not shame per se, but a secrecy that defies my understanding at least. I know my mother who was once overweight did not enjoy sex and moreover, never enjoyed eating much as she grew older. Eating was something she had to do to maintain good health. Likewise, another former female friend who has been divorced for many years used to visibly wince when I tried to talk about sex. She doesn’t eat a lot or enjoy food either. Going out to lunch or dinner with her was simply something to do, not that she ever salivated over some haute cuisine.
I know recently that when I’m frustrated sexually, I all too often want to eat sugary foods; sometimes I do in moderation these days but it makes me wonder how many others swallow heaps of junk food and sweet cakes and soft drinks as a panacea for sexual frustration, however disguised the issue might be. I also have a niece who is obese and she too hasn’t had a boyfriend for years nor does she fuck around with men she might just meet. No one night stands for her. I’m certainly not saying that all food extremism is about sex and its complexities, but I do believe that for many people, there is indeed an intimate connection between the two. Men who are now increasingly obese too; the young as well; it’s frightening that more than half the population is overweight or obese and I can only contemplate the nature of their sex lives. I’d add that people who supposedly can celebrate staying reasonably slim throughout their lives don’t necessarily have good sex lives either. It’s just that for those for whom eating is out of control or a way of too much control their eating disorder could be linked to sex. I do know that when I’m enjoying good sex, I don’t over indulge in food. Indeed, I’m not thinking about eating at all. When sex with another is absent in my life, there are still times I want to reach for too many chocolate biscuits. I’ve certainly learned to control this substitute desire by realising I’m unsatisfied and frustrated; but how many people really can face the inadequacy of their sex lives? Or does masturbation count in counteracting that frustration? Of course, I can’t answer these questions for anyone else but me, but while masturbation does help alleviate some of the frustration, it goes only so far. There is nothing to compare great sex with except great food, too. Both can offer incomparable enjoyment.
I’m not entirely suggesting that being anorexic or obese reflects necessarily a problem with sex; what I am writing about is that the attitude to food does seem significant with its connection to sex. I am not a psychologist or at all expert in any of these matters; suffice to say I have read about the links between them proffered by pundits over the decades. I can only add my own experience and others I’ve known and met to infer that to a large extent, I agree with the pundits. How many people really feel comfortable with their own bodies? Strip ‘em naked and too often, men and women both fall apart, demanding lights off when they’re in bed together. I know because it’s happened to me too many times with many men. What was always good for me was that other men commented that I looked better without my clothes on, more Rubenesque than Twiggy. I never seemed to care that much when I was plump, big or even fat; I always revelled in naked flesh and that of men too, beer guts and all, as I’ve written before. Yet, it is an area of shame for so many, shunning anyone seeing them naked for fear of what? Disgust? Disapproval? But that’s a subject for my next blog.
The hedonistic me enjoys it all; I love eating and in my current impecunious state, rarely go out for dinner except to indulge in a six dollar hamburger. I miss the culinary delights of really tasty and great food; though I do try and play with food a lot at home myself, making up my own recipes and creating something special for myself and occasionally others. I don’t have sex with any man but I do masturbate a lot and it works up to a point. I’ve stayed slim and healthy for decades now as I unravelled for myself my intimate connection between food and sex. A penny for your thoughts? Experience?