You’re Constantly Thinking About Food

More, it would seem, than you think about sex.

via teleporters.tumblr.com

When I read this stat, I was like, well, yeah. Not because I’m so undersexed but because I think about food all the time, like a middle-school boy thinks about sex. Or, rather, like Oliver Twist thought about food. I wake up thinking about all my breakfast choices and despair when I have no appetite. I plan vacations around restaurants, carry snacks and have a mental map plotted of New York with every delicious snack and edible destination highlighted in bold. At any given moment my brain scan would be some combination of “best brownie recipe that barbecue place in Alabama that plum I had once would chicken work with membrillo maybe I have time to bake a pie.” As the theologian and gourmet Father Robert Capon (whose priorities should be an inspiration to any person of faith) memorably wrote:

Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with Give us pasta with a hundred fillings.

Amen.

So, yes, I think about food a lot. And as a result, the stat that “25% of women think about food every half-hour” didn’t seem that shocking. What was depressing, however, was this:

But even though women are thinking about food, they’re probably not enjoying it: 25% say they’re always concerned about their weight, the Daily Mail reports. More than 60% of women say they don’t like eating in front of their partners, and 13% say they’ve chosen a “healthier” option while eating out instead of what they actually wanted. (Even so, 15% also admitted to eating junk food secretly, and 10% admitted to lying about it.)

It doesn’t surprise or depress me that more women think a lot about food than sex because they’re both human needs and, besides, eating requires more planning. You can have plenty of sex without ruminating on it constantly; food, not so much, unless I guess you have a full-time staff or are one of those joyless types who, as my brother said once, “wishes he could just take a pill and not have to bother with eating” and instead chain-smokes or chugs Ensure.

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It is tragic that food has become an instrument of guilt and shame and a source of stress rather than a pleasure and an inspiration. Sure, we see portrayals of women eating what they want — but it’s usually when they abandon themselves to foreign countries. (See: Eat, Pray Love; Julie and Julia.) Even then it’s generally seen as a voracious, exotic hunger for life rather than just a quotidian pleasure. Then we have “funny eaters,” improbably slender gluttons like Liz Lemon and Grace Adler and the Gilmore Girls, projecting neurosis through a love of night-cheese. Meanwhile, Man Versus Food even as we trick ourselves into thinking that Skinny tater tots are the answer. Is it any wonder we’re confused? Food and slimness are both fetishized, both made status symbols; gluttony is regarded as hilarious yet the one really aberrant sin; health and pleasure are low on our list of priorities.

The solution? There are much better minds than mine working on these issues tirelessly — or at any rate, certain isolated aspects of them. But if I could point to one piece of wisdom, it’s this quote from Iris Murdoch, which today seems practically radical. “Every meal should be a treat and one ought to bless every day which brings with it a good digestion and the precious gift of hunger.”

Or, this, from one reader of the Daily Mail story: “Strange, I do tend to think about dieting more often while reading the Daily Mail…but it’s likely nothing to do with every other article you lot run commenting on women’s weight.”

By Sadie Stein , originally posted on Jezebel. Republished WITH PERMISSION MOTHERF*CKERS.

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84 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    I love food. Food is wonderful. We’re going to Japan for our honeymoon, and my partner’s all “OH THIS TEMPLE AND AKIHAIBARA AND LET’S GO SEE THAT GIANT GUNDAM” and I’m like “So we’re eating lots of sushi, right?”

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      one time i went to tokyo with my friend and we expected to eat sushi all the time. problem was neither of us ate fish and couldn’t read any menus. we found a sushi train once which was awesome. thankfully we ate beer for dinner every night so food didn’t end up much of a concern. the end.

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    My bestie and I totally plan my visits around our favorite foods… we talk about it for weeks in advance, and we call it our food porn. I think about food. A lot.

    I think people who appreciate good food and are willing to try new things (even if they end up not liking them) are more likely to be good in bed. I have never met a picky eater who was hellcat in the sack, nor have I met a foodie who didn’t eat as well in bed as out of it.

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    i just gchatted “IF YOU CAN’T APPRECIATE FOOD I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY TO YOU” to someone, true story. seriously though, i just love making and tasting food.

    also, the only good part in eat pray love is when julia roberts is eating spaghetti, the rest of the movie sucked but that scene was amazing

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    “More than 60% of women say they don’t like eating in front of their partners”

    That one bothers me the most. I have as many food issues as the next formerly skinny fat chick, but how can you possibly enjoy eating – which to me is the only way we can create a healthy relationship with food – how can you possibly enjoy food, cooking, the things we actually *have* to do multiple times a day (and are lucky enough to be able to do if we live in first-world countries) if you can’t do it in front of the person you’re supposed to be sharing your life with? And that’s not 10% of women, that’s *sixty percent*. More than sixty percent. That bothers me, so much. Especially because it makes it so much more about what other people think of you, and so much less about what you think of yourself.

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        EXACTLY! That’s part of why we wanted to repub this article here — I have a feeling that this is way different with gay couples than it is with hets. I’ve never felt weird about eating in front of a girlfriend, but I will never forget the day I got two desserts at a buffet in front of a boyfriend and he made some kind of pig-related insult I cannot reiterate here because it would be embarrassing I was dating someone who said that. Also it was in Vegas and I think whatever happens there stays there

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          hahahah ikr?? When I started dating my gf, I FINALLY got the pleasure to completely be myself around someone I was dating.

          It’s such a relief to go out with someone without traditionalist pressures and pre-determined “roles”. Lets me be myself and have our relationship thrive and function based on our own values, talent, and personalities–not based upon assumptions everyone around me has given over the years.

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          Totally agree. I have never ONCE ever felt weird eating in front of my gf and she hasn’t in front of me either. In fact, 90% of our daily life revolves around food (but in a good way). We plan meals, grocery shop, cook together, pick out wine, and enjoy these big elaborate dishes that we could never afford in a restaurant. I feel sorry for the het girls who have to eat like little birdies while their boyfriends wolf down whatever’s in front of them.

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          “I feel sorry for the het girls who have to eat like little birdies while their boyfriends wolf down whatever’s in front of them.”

          IA but it’s not just that though – I was reading a book yesterday (Dead People’s Music by Sarah Laing) in which the narrator was diabetic. She doesn’t like to tell people about her diabetes and twice in the novel she feels miserable because she’s refused food in front of a guy and doesn’t want him to think she’s one of those nervous dieting girls. So clearly it’s on multiple levels – I don’t know how people manage it – how do you know when to eat less and when to eat like you’re not One of Those Diet Girls? The whole thing is ridiculous & the relationship you describe with your girlfriend is awesome/better/healthier (except for the bit where you cook with her which would drive. me. NUTS. OUT OF MY KITCHEN EVERYONE, it’s my way or the fridge.)

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          “I have a feeling that this is way different with gay couples than it is with hets.”

          I’d like to hear from some guys about this, actually. But if def. seems to be true with women.

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          The thing with guys is that they want girls to be unhealthily skinny but at the same time not have to work for it at all. “Effortless beauty’” or some shit like that.

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          Effortlessly conforming with rigid beauty standards! Right. But I actually meant (in the comment you’re responding to) gay men, since I know that the incidence of EDs is higher among gay men than straights.

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    Call me a “middle-school boy” – or just a generally-single 24-year-old – but I definitely think more about sex than food. Also, I’m maybe going to think about wine the most tonight, because it goes really well with both.

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    Most of human life revolves around food and the getting of it.

    Being born a pretty masculine woman and a physically oriented person (outdoor type, into making/building things) had the beneficial side affect of showing me the absolute insanity of the heterogendernormativebodysystem early on, and I intuitively knew that game was one I would always loose at, and was one that was no fun at all to play. As a result, I have always enjoyed food and eating, and have always had a positive feeling towards my body. I love food and eating.

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    I think about food probably 60% of the time I’m awake, and think about sex probably 40% of the time I’m awake, but obviously there’s some overlap. Ok, a lot of overlap; I like my girls covered in raspberry jam, thank you very much.

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    I can totally relate to this. I love food. I love making it, I love eating it, I even like talking about making and eating it.

    What I don’t like is when people get all judgey about what I should and should not eat, or worse restrict themselves via a diet (or whatever personal opinions they have) and expect me to do the same. If I want a cookie, I’m going to have the damn cookie and I’m not going to feel bad about it.

    The worst I found is my family. When I am on my own I do not constantly binge on junk food, but I do eat cupcakes whenever I damn well please. I also use oil(!) when I cook because its like… a cooking staple. Then I come home and I’m confronted with hundred calorie packs, and diet juice, and my mom who feels guilty whenever she has more than one cookie.

    I wish I could just explain to her that food is food is supposed to make you feel good not guilty, and have her understand.

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      ah ditto! I’m home right now and feel like I can’t eat anything without the run down on the amount of calories or sodium in whatever it is (usually they’re proud because it’s a like 45 cal low-sodium whole grain slice of bread or something). There’s more to eating and being healthy (not just physically!) than restricting calories (and salt)! arrghh. it’s difficult to think about food in a positive light sometimes when pressured to analyze every little detail about it. we’re so disconnected from our natural ways. & it can be hard to talk about too – so sensitive sometimes. TGFA (Thank God For Autostraddle)…(i’m realizing now that makes Riese seem like God…which i think i’m okay with)

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    this is an almost startlingly lucid piece – as a longtime devotee of anorexia nervosa, it was an attitude similar to this that finally allowed me to shake vestigial food terror and begin actually enjoying the sensuality of contemplating, preparing, sharing, and consuming food.

    viva gourmandism!

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    I like this. I’m not surprised by the stats but it’s sad. The pressures society puts on girls from such an early age is infuriating. What I hate more is that a lot of girls don’t have someone in their life telling them how amazing and beautiful they are and that what they see on teevee and in magazines is a lie that they don’t have to subscribe too. I think this is why gay parents raise statistically healthier children… I read that somewhere… it may have been on Autostraddle… it might have not been but I choose to believe it… no offense to you your mum and dad.

    I love sex. I love food. I love working out. Sounds simple but it seems like it took me a long time to figure out that the combination and exploration of these three things allows me to stop over thinking, love my body and enjoy this fucked up world… with perhaps a few other activities sprinkled in for diversity and/or flavor.

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    So, let’s just say that my girlfriend and I are total foodies.

    Our “stay in” dates usually consist of me cooking (I’m a great cook), eating lots of great food, drinking good wine, and having lots of good sex.

    The way to win a gay women’s heart is definitely through food in my opinion.

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    i just need to say how much wish i was more like the people commenting here. that is all i am going to say for fear of being a trigger to people out there that have done the terrible things to their bodies that i continue to do. but lets just say i fight a battle, and i lose… every. single. fucking. day. and its really hard and really disappointing and really unacceptable. but i am going to think about all of your words, lovely commenters, as i continue fighting to not live my life in order to please the people that have told me i am worthless. you all seem beautiful, and i want to be beautiful too and maybe one day…well you know.

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    It’s 7 PM and I haven’t eaten one thing all day…I’ve been cooped up all day working and filling out job applications. The first thing that made me actually want leave this room is this article and my devotion to a hearty appetite.

    I’d be a blimp if I didn’t have such a high metabolism

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    I think about both continually. It’s like ‘do I have money/time to get Thai for lunch’ and then it’s like ‘man I wish I was sleeping with a hot chick’ and then I’m like ‘maybe Chipotle instead.’

    To be fair, I think about food more than the average because I have 89034232432 food allergies. Approximately. So eating requires planning.

    There’s no real justification as to why I think about sex all the time but I don’t think I require justification.

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