Dr. Jess on Sex: Think of sex as food

A good meal sets off similar chemical reactions as a romp between the sheets

As sensory experiences required for the propagation of our species, food and sex share a great deal in common. From the activation of similar brain circuitry in response to hunger and sexual desire to the chemical reactions shared by satiated diners and lovers alike, eating and having sex can be intensely passionate exploits.

Despite the similarities between our physical responses to food and sex, our cultural approaches to each vary significantly. Although food is celebrated as a social experience, sex is relegated to the most secret corners of our lives. If, however, we apply our approach to food to our sex lives, we have much to gain in emotional, personal and relational benefits. 

When you approach sex as you do food, you discuss your specific needs with regard to quantity, timing and personal tastes. You don’t expect your partner to read your mind just as you cannot expect a dinner host to anticipate your lacto-ovo vegetarian no-carbs-after–7 p.m. dietary needs. If you want something in the bedroom, speak up and make your needs known just as you would in the kitchen.

If you treat sex as you do your diet, you accept that not every encounter will be a six-course, Michelin-starred gastronomical affair. Sometimes you grab a protein bar (or cupcake) on the run, and sometimes a quick orgasm is a matter of simple maintenance. You may benefit from advance planning, but there will be times you won’t follow through, and that’s perfectly fine. 

When you approach sex as you do food, you recognize that you aren’t born with top-tier skills, and you turn to experts and learning opportunities with enthusiasm as opposed to shame. You share your passion for the oral sex workshop at Toronto’s Good For Her just as you do your excitement to learn knife skills from the pros at the Healthy Butcher.

When you treat sex as you do your diet, you embrace the fact that your neighbour’s tastes differ from your own. You may not like chicken feet or group sex, but you don’t yuck their yum because it’s different than your own.

If you view sex as you do food, you celebrate rather than censure diversity. Food variety and rarity are met with reverence and a thirst for experimentation. When you apply this approach to sex and share your divergent interests with a partner, you have more meaningful conversations and more passionate sex.

As you merge your approaches to food and sex, you’ll learn to relish their pleasure, evolve as an imperfect being and forgive yourself for mistakes as part of your journey toward a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life.