Have you ever caught yourself watching TV at night and feeling lonely, bored or sad? Your partner may be sitting next to you or in their favorite chair, but you get up anyway; making the routine trip to the freezer to fix a bowl of ice cream, which will provide the comfort you are craving. It may not be ice cream; your comfort food may be a bag of Doritos, a pizza delivery, or a can of coke and leftovers from dinner. You aren’t really hungry, you may feel miserable, but the effort it would require to hug your partner, or become intimate with them isn’t as easy or comforting as food.

People who struggle with weight often times struggle with intimacy as well. This struggle extends beyond their family, and affects their personal friendships as well. Eating for comfort may lead to more isolation. The more weight people gain, the less they want to mingle and the more they worry about what others will think or say.

Have we become a society of people medicating with food in order to feel better? Have we stopped turning to loved ones for support and comfort in lieu of food? Yes and no. Although overeating has always been a problem, the stress of technology speeding up our lives and forcing us to bring home more work, or never leaving work at work, we are all working more and more, and feeling less and less connected with those we love most. We return home feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Rewarding ourselves with food is a lot easier than becoming vulnerable and open to criticism from our partner or friends.

There are other reasons more people are turning to food for emotional comfort rather than a relationship.

  •  You don’t have to leave your home to get comfort. Food delivery is available within blocks of our homes.
  •  Food is easy; you don’t need to invest any effort or time.
  •  You don’t have to get dressed to enjoy comfort food.
  •  You don’t have to look handsome, desirable or pretty for food.
  •  Food doesn’t judge you, leave you, or criticize you.
  •  Eating a delicious dinner is longer and more enjoyable for many people than sex (the average length of lovemaking is less than ten minutes).
  •  Food doesn’t cheat on you.
  •  Food is available anywhere, anytime, and for any reason.
  •  Food may be tied to memories of love and childhood which makes you feel loved.
  •  Food doesn’t require a partner.

So is it a bad thing if we prefer gourmet truffle macaroni and cheese along with a filet mignon and a fresh garden salad with gobs of ranch dressing? Is it bad to add chocolate mousse if you’ve had an especially rough day and need an additional reward? It’s not a judgment call of right or wrong, but it can be adding to your unhappiness and health. Intimacy with another is important. When you are intimate with someone they want you to be healthy; choosing food for comfort rather than reaching out to them would be hurtful or a sign of rejection.

There are other reasons you need to find comfort in one another rather than food. Below are a few.

  •  Intimacy shared with another gives you a deeper connection.
  •  Intimacy doesn’t leave you with guilt, feeling disgusted, or body hate.
  •  Intimacy helps you lose weight, not gain.
  •  Intimacy lowers your heart rate.
  •  Intimacy lowers your blood pressure.
  •  Intimacy won’t cause diabetes.
  •  Intimacy is good for your heart.
  •  Intimacy improves your thinking.
  •  Intimacy is exercise and exercise is good.
  •  Intimacy won’t leave you feeling isolated.
  •  Intimacy doesn’t take your mobility away.
  •  Intimacy doesn’t cost anything.
  •  Intimacy doesn’t make your hips, knees or ankles hurt.
  • Intimacy makes your brain work better.

Everyone understands the feeling of working and having a bag of chips or a package of cookies nearby only to realize at the end of their task the bag or package is completely gone. They were eating them mindlessly. Eating to calm anxiety is more and more common. The primary reason for relationships growing apart is due to couples choosing other vices to fill the void they feel. Becoming aware of your behavior and what you are eating, as well as writing down what you eat (we forget) is a good way to begin eating less and becoming more in touch with the emotions you are repressing with food. A simple practice of not eating past 7 or 8 pm can help you lose weight, and communicate more with your partner, family or friends. Breaking the habit of turning to food is not easy, but with practice it does work. Intimacy and sex are better for you than food!

Here is a Youtube video that may help those in their journey to stop mindless eating. To learn more about this topic, check out Mary Jo’s website here. For free relationship help subscribe here. You can also talk to her by clicking on “Ask Mary Jo”.