"Brownie Husband" or Food as Intimate Partner

If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a very funny sketch from the April 10, 2010 Saturday Night Live featuring Tina Fey and her “brownie husband.”

Tina Fey and Brownie Husband from SNL

Food, especially those that heighten the senses like caffeine, sugar and chocolate, are often substitutes for connection, intimacy, and uncomfortable sexual feelings. Chocolate and sex produce similar emotional charges in the brain. “Brownie husband” is always available when we’re not in a partnership, or our key relationships are overstressed or poorly scheduled. Today’s over-busy world poses considerable challenge for the intimacy within relationships.

It’s one thing to be in a period of your life when you are single and you wish to be involved in a serious relationship, but it may be harder to be in a relationship and feel it is an unfulfilling one. Many of my clients struggle with relationships that are not satisfying or nourishing to them. They might feel unappreciated, unseen, or unheard. They may feel taken for granted, ignored or even neglected.

And yet, until they open up and take a stand for what they need in life, either by asking for it or working towards achieving it, food continues to fill a role it’s not intended to fill. What happens more often is that the unfulfilled party will try to convince themselves that “at least I have a relationship” or “it’ll get better.”

Though food can be controlled to a greater degree than our access to people, it rarely leads to a feeling of satisfaction, connection or intimacy we all crave. The key is to recognize what deeper need is being expressed, instead of labeling all feelings of desire as a craving for food.

I love the part of the sketch when she suggests “brownie husband” feels stressed, but she’s the one eating. To me, it shows a common thread in the battle over excess weight: many people take on the feelings of those around them, and take responsibility for those feelings too. This is a disservice to both people. It’s a huge weight to carry, and it robs our friend, partner or child of the experience of working through their feelings and owning them.

That adds up to “sweating the small stuff”, and even other people’s small stuff!

Here are some words to look for when seeking the deeper need that may be hidden at the subsconsious level. Any one of them may be translated at the conscious level into a vicious scream for “FOOD! NOW! ANY TYPE BUT PREFERABLY CHOCOLATE!”

Do you want to be:
accepted
acknowledged
admired
adored
an object of affection
an object for tenderness
anchored
appreciated
a source of affection
a source of tenderness
attached
balanced
believed in
bolstered, upheld
cherished
connected with
craved
cuddled
desired
exalted
excited
expressive
fulfilled
heard
held
hugged
important
loved
nourished
nurtured
partnered
respected
revered
seen
supported
understood
wanted
worthy

You can probably name a hundred other words. What are your deepest needs and desires? If you struggle with food or excess weight, chances are some of your big wants in life have been transferred to a “brownie husband.”

Facing them might be scary, but ultimately much more rewarding than a mouthful of dough.

I invite you to express your wants here in the comments section. Acknowledging them is a powerful first step!

This blog was featured on “Prevention Not Prescriptions!” Find out more and share information for “Prevention Not Prescriptions” at The Kathleen Show here.

3 Responses to “Brownie Husband” or Food as Intimate Partner

  1. I know there’s meant to be a link between sex and chocolate, but though I often desire sex I don’t have any craving for chocolate – maybe the connection varies according to body type? Certainly I sometimes ‘comfort eat’ so I’m not flawless!

    You might enjoy my latest article too – Free Food. The song lyrics are there too – feel free to download them. Enjoyed this article and hope lots of comments flood in Pat! Cheers from New Zealand

    • Pat Barone says:

      So, you are saying you don’t feel the same euphoric release in your brain when you eat chocolate? Perhaps you don’t have those two wires crossed – that’s good news for you. You may also have a stronger sense of identifying the desire for sex, and don’t substitute food for it. Good for you!

  2. It’s not just women who substitute food for all the other “feel good” qualities in life. Why do we do it? I suspect there’s all kinds of reasons… heredity, faulty wiring, upbringing… but a lot of it happens because it’s the easy way to get to what we perceive to be our happy place. Instant gratification is a strong motivator and what’s more instantly gratifying that sugar, fat and/or salt?

    There’s nothing easy about changing your lifestyle to a more healthy one. You’ve got to make good food choices, got to work in time for exercise and sometimes say “no, thank you” to things that your mind tells you that you want. However, it’s not a denial of the finer things in life… it’s an investment in your own enrichment, body and soul.

    That said… this explains the brownie crumbs I found in bed the other night…

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