Pleasure Foods 101
Does what we eat really affect our sex? In a word: yes. And in a number of ways. Some of it is common sense, like don’t eat onions and garlic before kissing another human being. And maybe don’t order that deluxe burrito with extra cheese prior to a roll in the hay. Like I said, common sense. But it’s more than that. We can actually optimize our sexual experiences by being strategic about the food we eat before and after – and as a part of our daily lives.
Data from a health-tracking app based in Sweden analyzed the habits of 17 million people in Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Specifically, they looked at what people are eating before and after sex. Would it surprise you to know that the #1 food on the list is chocolate? Me either, but some of the other food choices that people are making did. Here they are - the lists are identical with one exception.
Honesty, tomatoes have never made my list of precoital fare and neither have potatoes – unless they’re referring to French fries. But yes to strawberries & chocolate!
The key to eating before sex is to keep it light and avoid a buzz kill situation, namely, bloating and gas. Fortunately, there is an abundance of research on the subject, because so many of us have digestive issues.
Since we're looking to avoid bloating and gas, an understanding of FODMAP foods is of the utmost importance. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. They’re short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly absorbed by the bowel and can cause abdominal pain, bloating and gas. So, best to steer clear before intimate moments to be on the safe side.
Let’s take another look at the list of before and after foods in the context of FODMAP. We’ll use their traffic light rating system to see where the study's fav foods fall.
bread (wheat, barley, rye)
cheese (hard or aged)
1one glass (150 ml) of red,
sparkling, sweet, white, or dry
white wine made with grapes
Don’t see your favorite foods on the list? Here’s a great resource with a wide range of foods to check for before-sex compatibility. Click here to read more about FODMAP from the University of Virginia Health Systems.
What About Chocolate and FODMAP?
Good news. Chocolate is low on the FODMAP scale. But a word to the wise, be cognizant of dairy content if you are lactose intolerant. And always be mindful of quantity. Here’s the scoop on each type of chocolate: dark, milk and white.
Milk Chocolate – savor 4 pieces (1/2 serving) of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses and you should not experience any negative effects. Ideally, ingredients should include cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, some sort of milk product and perhaps lecithin and vanilla.
White Chocolate – you can eat about 4 squares (1/2 serving) of Lindt Classic Recipe White Chocolate Bar and stay in the green light zone. Make sure that cocoa butter is one of the first ingredients or it's not really chocolate.
Being strategic means scheduling that four-course meal for after sex. I’m thinking you both will have worked up an appetite.
Overall health is key to optimizing sex. And we all know that nutrition plays a major role and has a significant effect on how we feel and how our bodies perform. The experts agree that eating nutrient-rich, whole foods is the way to go when it comes to our health -- fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and lean proteins.
Certain foods go beyond supporting overall health and target the areas that are vital for healthy sex. Libido, hormones, cardiovascular health & blood flow, energy and mood are all components of the foundation we can build with nutrition.
When we talk about libido, we’re referring to sexual desire. There are foods that naturally boost the libido in some very specific ways. Some of these foods are thought of as aphrodisiacs.
It may also be worth your while to find a place for pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds in your diet. Both are good sources of Omega 3 acids. Dopamine and serotonin production are known to increase when we eat foods rich in Omega 3 acids. These are the feel-good chemicals in the brain that heighten desire.
The human body has many types of hormones - chemical messengers that travel throughout your bloodstream. They control functions including metabolism, reproduction, growth, mood and sexual health. Balance is crucial when it comes to hormones and if one is out of whack it can throw the others off. Fortunately, we have some control when it comes to hormonal balance through the lifestyle we choose. That makes our food choices quite powerful and impactful.
When it comes to sex, stamina depends on cardiovascular health in general and blood flow in particular. So eating for heart-health is important, to say the least. Experts agree that a diet rich in plant-based foods is optimum for the cardiovascular system – wholegrains, fruits & vegetables, nuts and legumes. Seafood and healthy oils, like olive oil, are also recommended.
Low energy is an enemy of sex and well-being. Remember, we are what we eat.
Water is essential for life. An adequate amount of water is essential for energy. People have been known to become fatigued simply because they’re dehydrated. So, drink up.
If it's true that the brain is our most erogenous zone (and it is), then mood is essential. After all, doesn't it always come down to the question of whether or not we're in the mood?
Red wine, too, has been known to enhance mood - plus it's full of antioxidants. When it comes to wine, some experts advise some and others advise none. But whatever you decide, remember that too much of a good thing can backfire. You don't want to fall asleep at an inopportune time and there are situations that may call for a clear head.
I've not even mentioned salmon or celery. So many foods, so little time! But, hopefully, one thing is clear: each of us has the power to enhance our sex through nutrition.
Here are some more sex-friendly foods from Eat This Not That.
Make it delicious!
Happiful, Can What You Eat Really Affect Your Sex Life?, Bonnie Evie Gifford, Senior Writer for Happiful, Hampshire, England, October 5, 2019
Healthline, 5 Foods to Eat for Better Sex – and 3 You Should Really Avoid, Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW & medically reviewed by Natalie Olsen, R.D., L.D., ACSM EP-C-CST, August 21, 2018
Mbg Relationships, How Sugar Can Affect Your Sex Life & What To Do About It, Mark Hyman, M.D.,
Functional Medicine Doctor & NY Times bestseller, March 27, 2020
Healthline, How To Boost Your Relationship and Sex Life With Healthy Eating, Tara Gidus, medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, R.D., L.D., December 19, 2017
Mbg Food, 5 Delicious Foods That May Support A Health Sex Drive, From An MD, Mark Menolascino, M.S., M.D., IFMCP, January 29, 2021
University of Virginia Health System, UVA Nutrition, Low FODMAP Diet, December 2016
Case de Santé, Which Alcohol is FODMAP?, May 31, 2018
FODMAP everyday, All About Milk Chocolate & The Low FODMAP Diet, Dédé Wilson, co-founder of FODMAP, May 14, 2017, updated July 30, 2019
FODMAP everyday, All About White Chocolate & The Low FODMAP Diet, Dédé Wilson, co-founder of FODMAP, May 14, 2017, updated July 30, 2019
FODMAP everyday, All About Dark Chocolate & The Low FODMAP Diet, Dédé Wilson, co-founder of FODMAP, May 14, 2017, updated July 30, 2019
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