The newest survey just out of the United Kingdom, finds that women put more effort into dieting than into their relationships which leads them to think more about food than sex! Frankly, as the author of "Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure and Somehow Got Home in Time to Cook Dinner" and a Sex Coach, I could have told them that!

The UK study revealed that 10 per cent of those surveyed revealed they would feel guiltier straying from their diet, than being unfaithful to their partner, a quarter of the women admitted they thought dieting was more important than their relationship and actually said that they put more effort into their weight-loss attempts than into their romantic relationships.

More than a third of respondents said they thought about food and dieting more than they thought about their partner and 54 percent confessed they thought about food more than sex. Food is a lot less scary than sex for a lot of people. And both food and sex have to with pleasure, self comforting, and for many control.

I know that many will dismiss this survey because it was done by the weight-loss company Atkins who surveyed 1, 290 female dieters across the UK about their attitudes about food, dieting and how dieting and their relationship with food affected their relationships. But I wouldn't. And I think it is much deeper than dieting because we might have been teased as kids or wanting to have the perfect bikini body as the researched stated.

There is nothing more complex than a woman's relationship with her body and food - and I believe that is because it is directly tied to our relationship to our sexuality and self image. I also believe that as women we get a lot more information about dieting than we do about healthy female sexuality.

As women we are taught that by withholding food (pleasure and nourishment) that we will find happiness (sub-text sex). It is also through eating that we are able to find available pleasure without the sexual shame that so many of us hold. It's quite the conflict. No matter what we say - so many of us still think that "good girls don't".

Once I owned up to my own deepest, untapped desires, I discovered a wellspring of happiness and self confidence inside me that extended to every part of my life. It stopped me in my tracks. Whoa! I thought. This is incredible! Everyone should know they have the power to experience life in all its richness right now, just as they are. No diets, no plastic surgery, no nothing. Just intact, healthy sexuality. But it did mean getting in touch with my sexual shame first - not my relationship with food which is what is pushed on us by society. My relationship with food and dieting only healed after I healed my relationship with my own sexuality. But that is the opposite of what we are literally fed to believe.

I figured out, that if I can stop warring with my weight as a cover for my relationship with my body and sexuality - I think most people can. I know that when I stopped denying my hearty and normal sexual appetites, I started losing my uncontrollable urges to overeat, over diet, overwork and over-compensate. For the first time, I could relax in my own skin. Admitting your desires takes a tanker-load of courage, and a rip-stop web of support. That's why I wrote "SHAMELESS". So, how do you turn the conversation from food to sex - when using the cover of food, fat and diets are so much more socially acceptable? And for so many people in relationships, the very idea of changing one's sexual practices, introducing sexual ideas or sharing sexual desire may be viewed as embarrassing. How does one do this?

I have found that candidly discussing desire, whether it's new-found or previously undisclosed, isn't about blowing up a happy and healthy long-term relationship. It is about creating new depths of intimacy and revealing oneself to one's partner more fully. Make no mistake - it can be an edgy exercise. Much scarier than giving up that peanut butter and jelly sandwich! And it's just as scary to share your deepest needs as it is for your partner to hear them.

Honesty isn't always comfortable but that's how we develop true acceptance of ourselves and our significant others. It's also important to remember that there's big difference between expressing desire and acting on it, and what may feel "kinky" to one, may be the others baseline. No one's sexuality is "typical" and for both the speaker and the listener, this is the moment to put judgment aside in the name of love. Sometimes, simply naming desire out loud is enough. That is often the key to opening greater understanding between two people. The best way to approach this is with gentleness and an open heart. If you love this person enough to be vulnerable, then hopefully you believe that your love is reciprocal enough to see you through.

To be sure, many people won't examine their own fantasies and desires. More often than not, we sit in such judgment of sexual desires in general and our own in particular, then we hide them away as if they were somehow shameful. Enter the popcorn and the diets. And then we forget about or fail to recognize them at all. The denial of our essential sexual natures is so ingrained -we can't even look at our own bodies without cringing. Body shame looms large - so that often becomes the focus. It is an easy distraction that is enforced by society. There are so many obstacles to leap over, from religion and cultural mores to family issues, lack of information and possibly even abuse.

It is always about people being willing to be brave enough to speak their truths instead of focusing on eating them and be seen just as they are. Sexual confidence doesn't come only to those who are young, fit and "beautiful". However, gaining confidence can be especially hard to those with poor body image. As a woman who's warred with her weight for years, and have coached hundreds of others, I want women to know that you can embrace your body now and turn your attention from food and diets to love and pleasure. The rest of the good stuff will follow like magic.

This is an ongoing process even  for me, to this very day. For me, it was about allowing in pleasure just as I was. Not waiting until some day. Once I allowed my imperfect body to give me pleasure, I became much more accepting of who I was. It was only then, that I began to feed my body what it needed, and it was less hungry for other things - like chocolate.  And through this process, transformation occurred. It's liberating to discover that for yourself.

About the Author

Pamela Madsen

Pamela Madsen is the author of Shameless and founder of The American Fertility Association.

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