Taste. Lick. Suck. Bite.
This thing we do, every day, all day long, is a driving desire in life. We work for it, think about it, crave things to consume.
The innocent act of eating can sound so lustful. And, eating food is, at its core, incredibly sexual.
Birds and bees pollinate flowers, the sexual organs of fruiting trees and plants, and we eat the results of these unions. In fact, eating is the most intimate thing we do with other people…in public.We humans are pleasure-seeking machines. And there isn’t a dang thing wrong with that.
We take nourishment into our bodies at every meal, just as we take another person into us when we have sex. (Or enter into another, or just rub against each other like furtive bees on the hunt for more pollen.)
We humans are pleasure-seeking machines. And there isn’t a dang thing wrong with that.
But we often experience debilitating perfectionism, guilt, shame, heavy judgment and downright fear around food and our cravings for it, our bodies, desires for pleasure and sex.
We create, or follow, rules about how often, how much, and what kind of foods we “should” consume. Same goes for sex.
Rules about when, how often, and what kinds of sex we “should” have (or want, or fantasize about) keep us fearful, worried, and separate from our bodies.
I believe that the simultaneous coming of age for women in both areas of dieting and sexuality have created a seemingly inescapable Gordian knot, tying up our self-worth, pleasure, appetites, and food cravings.
In our early adolescence just as we are becoming aware of the cultural value placed on the thinness and attractiveness of our bodies, we also become aware of our own sexual desires and impulses. Food is delicious, and so is sex, but too much of either, or tasting the wrong kind, and you’ll be labeled a slut, and shut out from your peer group.
This is like death for young women. And so we begin to walk along the dual razors edges of dieting and dating (or as I call them, “food and f**king”).
An example from my own life: When I was getting divorced, a two-plus year grind, I became aware that my libido had been encased in cement and was drowned at the bottom of the ocean. I had discovered my ex-husband’s infidelity and blamed his wandering attentions on me. I thought I must have lost my sexual pull after giving birth to our son, or that I was too tame for him.
We had co-created the Oscar-nominated documentary Super Size Me together, and I had made a name as a vegan chef and cookbook author. But as my divorce dragged on, and I spent more time as a single co-parent, my energy, hormones and body went through a major upheaval.
I hadn’t thought about sex for months, let alone dating. I also hadn’t eaten meat in over a decade, and hadn’t wanted any. And then something changed, and I wanted both.
I wanted men, and I wanted meatballs.
Let me tell you, it was confusing, scary and frustrating to be in a body that all of a sudden craved two very “taboo” things: sex and meat.
Looking back, I now know it was my shifting hormones causing both, but I was tied up in knots about the rightness of allowing myself to have either. I fought my cravings for quite a while – over a year of total denial. In that time my body, soul and life suffered.
Then I finally realized that I wasn’t allowing myself the same. I started listening to my body and gave her what she was asking for. Men and meat.
It was like a rebirth! My energy, passion and life turned on. I started seeing more possibility in my life, and having more fun. And my body came back from the brink of hormonal failure.
So I’d like to share with you the best insights I gathered from those experiments. Over 100 first dates in 18 months. And a total diet makeover from vegan to omnivore.
1. You have to experiment to find what really feels good to you.
And what feels good and keeps you healthy and happy will change over time. You can’t know who will be a good fit for you on the internet. You won’t know what foods are going to help you feel the way you want while reading a diet book.
You have to be willing to get out there and try on people, try different foods, and experiment. Be open to feeling what feels good, or not-so-good, to you. Your body, heart, and soul will tell you what you need to know.
But you have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone, date “not your type” people, and try a way of eating that may be foreign.
2. Procrastination comes from our desired perfectionism.
Looking for the perfect person or the perfect diet stops you from ever really investing or trying. Go. Get started. Make an online dating profile. Swap out one food that you know holds you back in your energy or weight loss goals. Add meat. Replace green juice with bone broth. Remove sugar. Ask that guy out. Just. Do. It.
3. To find the perfect person or diet, act as if YOU were already perfect.
Any endeavor, from dieting to building a business to dating, that’s pursued from a place of scarcity is doomed. Have you ever dieted from a place of:
“I’m lousy. My body sucks. I’m a total weak-willed slob.” Doesn’t really inspire confidence, does it? Eat in a new way because you love you. Date as if you were already whole, not searching for someone to “complete you.” Meet each person and each plate in the moment, without bringing your history or “failures” with you.
Judging yourself, the food, or the person in front of you don’t allow you to be present and fully experience the moment, bite, experience, or kiss.
Just show up. Try on everyone. Eat everything.
Be present and taste life’s rich bounty.
You’ll find that dinner, and dating, become a lot more enjoyable when you show up as if you were already perfect.
This piece originally appeared on Welldoing.org.