Food & Masturbation; Are We Merging Two Addictive Behaviors?

Written by: Nobuhle N Nyoni

An interview with Lindiwe Rasekoala

The intertwining of food and sexual desire has been a fascinating aspect of human culture for centuries. The connection between what we eat and how we experience pleasure in the bedroom has intrigued and captivated minds throughout history. From the famous peaches and cream to the sweet and sticky honey, many of us have given this a try at least once in our lives. Introducing food in your bedroom isn’t just about the physical sensations but also about the symbolism and sensory experience that both food and sex share.

Have you ever considered incorporating food into your moments of personal indulgence, dear African woman? A recent TikToker, Amber Eros, stirred quite a conversation with her video discussing the concept of ‘sacred slut snackies’—edibles to accompany your moments of self-pleasure. Eros breaks these snackies into three enticing categories. First, there are the ‘drip down your chin’ delights, including the juiciness of mangoes and peaches. Then, we venture into the realm of ‘luxurious highbrows,’ a haven where the likes of chocolate and truffles find their place. Finally, we encounter the ‘hedonistic lowbrow,’ a realm that boasts comfort treats like a hearty bucket of fried chicken or the crunch of potato crisps.

Now, a little word of caution: should you decide to awaken your kink, it’s wise to avoid switching hands, especially when delving into the hedonistic lowbrow territory.

Incorporating food during naughty moments with your partner doesn’t involve a lot of eating but more teasing; the story may be different when you are on a solo mission to achieve the big O. The question here is, are we playing with fire? I talk to Lindiwe Rasekoala, an intimacy and relationship wellness coach who focuses on sex education through online content creation, workshops, and coaching.

Lindiwe Rasekoala, intimacy and relationship wellness coach

What are the psychological and physiological factors behind the connection between food cravings and sexual arousal?

Firstly, we need to establish that this will work differently for different people. Psychologically, we would talk about emotions, associations, and sensory stimulation. Food and sex are associated with pleasure rewards, and emotional states can trigger both cravings. It is common for an individual to turn to either of these two activities as coping mechanisms.

Association is more about linking food with a pleasurable experience; for example, if one often eats pizza with their partner, it could bring up feelings of arousal and intimacy. With sensory stimulation, the texture, flavor, and smell of food can activate one’s senses and result in sexual arousal as well. 

Physiologically, we are talking about neurotransmitters and hormones. Dopamine is a short-term, pleasure hormone (neurotransmitter) that is released when one eats as well as when one is pleasured. Oxytocin, also known as ‘the love hormone’ or ‘the bonding hormone,’ is released during intimate moments and enhances the feeling of connection. It is also released when you are eating socially or sharing a romantic meal, which then links back to intimacy.

Is there such a thing as overdosing oneself on dopamine?

No, the brain has mechanisms to regulate and maintain dopamine levels within a certain range. In other words, the brain has a built-in mechanism to prevent you from “overdosing” on dopamine in the way that one might with drugs.

Are there any specific foods or dietary habits that are linked to an increased likelihood of experiencing both food addiction and sexual compulsivity?

Food addiction and sexual compulsivity are both very complex and result from different biological, psychological, and environmental factors. We can start by talking about common aphrodisiacs – foods that increase your sexual desire or libido. We are talking about chocolate, ginger, and strawberries, just to name a few. The consumption of these foods doesn’t immediately result in being physically sexually aroused, but it does have a psychological effect.

One thing we need to note is that some aphrodisiacs count as highly palatable foods. These are foods rich in sugar, fat, and salt, which can be addictive. So imagine a person who has found chocolate to be their go-to food when they are having a hard day, feeling depressed or anxious, and they can eat through 4 bars at a time. This behavior can easily lead to one also tying sexual arousal or pleasure as a coping mechanism because they consume high amounts of an aphrodisiac.

Think of the process as a domino effect; most will not realize it is happening. In my example above, the individual was motivated to emotionally eat because of something that happened in their day that negatively impacted them. The food they ate aroused them, which then resulted in them masturbating. I hope that shows how it can happen as well as how complex it can be.

One could argue that food is also used with a sexual partner, and society as well as the wellness industry has sold this as an entryway to ‘adventure’ in the bedroom. Is there a difference or a deeper danger with masturbation than there is with using it with a sexual partner?

Too much of anything can be bad for you. As I mentioned before, the merging of food and masturbation has many external factors, so it can also result in negative effects on one’s life. Overeating can lead to health effects such as being overweight, while masturbation addiction can affect your everyday productivity.

Sitting through a bucket of chicken while masturbating and making it a habit will quickly impact your health and affect both your life and your sex life. One can lose control of their life; this is sometimes called disinhibition, where one cannot withhold themselves from participating in inappropriate behavior. While we do not have scientific evidence of the dangers that exist around the behavior of merging masturbation and food, it may be wise to practice this moderately.

How does societal or cultural influence contribute to the intertwining of food and sexual behaviors? Are there any cultural variations in this regard?

100%. There are foods that are associated with traditional events or rituals, for example, weddings. These events result in people gathering and sharing food, which is a symbolism of commitment. The media has also done a great job in portraying food and sexuality together, reinforcing how these two can be connected.

In our own African culture, we have foods, herbs, and traditional practices that enhance sexual potency and fertility. In some parts of Africa, yams are considered a fertility food and are used in a lot of rituals. While in some parts, cow heels are considered an important part of one’s diet because it is believed to help with stamina.

What signs would show that an individual is now ‘addicted’ to the behavior of merging food and masturbation?

  1. Failed attempts to quit.
  2. Withdrawal symptoms, which can include irritability, restlessness, and depression.
  3. Tolerance, which is when one starts to require extreme or prolonged experiences in order to achieve the same level of pleasure.
  4. Neglecting responsibilities.
  5. Secrecy and shame.

What advice or tips can you offer to individuals who may recognize a pattern of merging food and masturbation as coping mechanisms or sources of pleasure?

When you see it starting to feel like an addiction, seek therapy right away. Addictions are curable, and sometimes you just need a little help to get through it. Outside of addiction, I say masturbation is an art that helps you learn your body, so go ahead and have fun with it.

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