Food and Intimacy: What’s the Connection? – with Emily Rosen

Did you know that there’s a profound connection between food and intimacy? Would you believe that the more we tap into our truest desires, the more our eating struggles begin to drop away, and our relationship with food becomes a source of nourishment, empowerment and pleasure? In this inspirational video, Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating delivers thoughtful insights that can move you to a new place with food, intimacy, and life. Please take a look and let us know what you think.

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In the comments below, please let us know: How has your relationship with food improved when you created more intimacy in your life with yourself or with others? We love hearing your thoughts!

Here is a transcript of this week’s video:

Greetings friends, this is Emily Rosen, Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for the psychology of eating

Today’s topic: Food and Intimacy: What’s the Connection?

I love making connections. I especially love making connections that are not always obvious to the naked eye. Making connections makes things happen. Life is all about connectivity. The world has completely transformed because of Internet connectivity. Human beings have this amazing new way to be in relationship – meaning connection in an instantaneous way across the globe. This has changed the face of humanity. Your brain is as smart as it is simply because of the number of nerve cells, and their number of connections. The more connectivity in your brain to other nerve cells and to any cells throughout the body, the more evolved we become. We lose our intelligence, memory, cognition, and capacity for higher thought as our neural connections decrease with age or disease.

To that end, there are all kinds of connections that exist with food and our relationship with it – that we don’t always notice.

Today we’re going to talk about the connection between food and intimacy.

There’s some powerful wisdom and information in this connection that can make a big difference in our lives. Allow me to explain:

A significant part of the human experience is centered around intimacy.

By intimacy I mean the kind of close contact that has us being seen for who we are, that has us a little vulnerable, and that has us interconnecting with another human being in a way that makes us feel more soulful, heartfelt, human, alive, real, and in some way – loved.

For sure, some people are more intimate than others. Many of us have a number of intimate friendships. We might have intimate connections with our parents, kids, family members, coworkers, and more. Of course, we tend to reach the height of intimacy in the kinds of close relationships like marriages or long-term partnerships.

Many people have a deep desire for intimacy, especially the variety that comes in a close one on one relationship. Such intimacy can be deeply fulfilling and nourishing.

Some consider it good fortune or a blessing when they have such an intimate connection. And often times, when we desire intimacy and don’t have it, we can lapse into suffering, into pain and upset. We can fall into a painful longing, and feel a big lack in our lives. And at such times, it’s a heck of a lot easier to turn to food as a symbolic substitute for the intimacy that we seek.

Symbolic substitutes are just as it sounds – this is a psychological term for the peculiar trait of the human psyche where we will oftentimes reach for the closest approximation of the very thing that we want, but don’t have.

So if I don’t have intimacy in my life, what’s the easiest way to get it?

Well, for a lot of people, the answer is food.

Let’s face it – the act of eating can be a very intimate experience.

We love it, we desire it, taste it, we receive pleasure from it, we commune with it, we long for it, we get all excited when we have it, we might get a little afraid if it feels too good, we enjoy the feeling it gives us, and we literally consume it. We take it inside us and swallow it. How’s that for intimacy?

Intimacy can profoundly fill us up.
So can food.

I meet a lot of people who have challenges with overeating, binge eating, emotional eating, appetite regulation, and other unwanted eating habits – and for some of them, at their core, is a desire for intimacy that’s been rerouted into the easiest available symbolic substitute – food.

On one level, there’s nothing wrong with this.

I’m not saying this is bad.
We’re human. We’re not perfect.

Sometimes, we need some good symbolic substitutes. It keeps us going.
It helps us during the tough times. It can often bridge the gap.

The challenge happens when we rely too much on food as our source of intimacy.

So it’s a great question to ask yourself – if I have an eating challenge, how might it be connected to my experience or desire for intimacy?

Sometimes, we don’t fully own and acknowledge our deep desire for intimacy in our life. We like to make the world think that we’re independent. We want to show everyone we can do it alone. We want to be self-sufficient.

All that is fine, except when it masks a deeper truth. If intimacy is important for us, lets own it.

I think that far too many people make the mistake of getting stuck in the quick-fix solution. Meaning, if I can have the depth and intimacy I want, then I might as well eat and forget about the rest.

Perhaps one of the first steps to truly attracting intimacy into our life is to first become more intimate with self. One of the great ways to become more intimate with self is to do an honest inventory of who we are and what we truly want at the deepest level of our being.

When we touch that place, there’s a magic that’s instantaneously born.

And from there, so many good things are possible.

I hope this was helpful.

To learn more about us please go to

The Institute for the Psychology of Eating offers the most innovative and inspiring professional trainings, public programs, conferences, online events and lots more in the exciting fields of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition! In our premier professional offering – the Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training – you can grow a new career and help your clients in a powerful way with food, body and health. You’ll learn cutting edge skills and have the confidence to work with the most compelling eating challenges of our times: weight, body image, overeating, binge eating, digestion, fatigue, immunity, mood and much more. If you’re focused on your own eating and health, the Institute offers a great selection of one-of-a-kind opportunities to take a big leap forward in your relationship with food. We’re proud to be international leaders in online and live educational events designed to create the breakthroughs you want most. Our public programs are powerful, results oriented, and embrace all of who we are as eaters – body, mind, heart and soul.

Please email us at if you have specific questions and we will be sure to get back to you.

Again that is

This is Emily Rosen, Chief Operating Officer for the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

Thanks so much for your time and interest!


In the comments below, please let us know how your relationship with food improved when you created more intimacy in your life with yourself, or others. Emily Rosen personally reads every comment and does her best to respond. We love hearing your thoughts!



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P.S. If you haven’t had a chance to check out our FREE information packed video series – The Dynamic Eating Psychology Breakthrough – you can sign up for it HERE. It’s a great way to get a better sense of the work we do here at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. If you’re inspired by this work and want to learn about how you can become certified as an Eating Psychology Coach, please go HERE to learn more. And if you’re interested in working on your own personal relationship with food, check out our breakthrough 8-week program designed for the public – Transform Your Relationship with Food™ HERE

  • Mary

    I really appreciate your offering these for free. Yet the music is VERY distracting! I really can’t even watch them and concentrate.

    Hint: I have been completely cleaned up in my body and then the music might not bug me. Unfortunately that isn’t the case for me right now and many others. Hope this helps!

    • Hi Mary,
      Thank you for reaching out and bringing up the point about the volume of the music. We will keep this in mind for our future videos.
      Please feel free to read the transcript of the video above in the meantime.
      I hope that helps!


  • John McDonell

    Thanks Emily – very, very good.
    You may wish to expand a bit on the power of vulnerability to set truth as foremost. By this I mean food is addictive and a little vulnerability can be over-run by a strong enough compulsion. If however a strong sense of vulnerability is soon linked to truth. If you think such thoughts strange, please listen to Brene Brown on U-tube.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for reaching out and sharing your perspective on vulnerability.
      I completely agree regardging the power of vulnerability and am familiar with Brene Browns work. I actually recently heard her speak. I will for sure include something about it in a future video. Thank you again for sharing.


  • Sebastian Lamas

    Hi Emily,
    Great video…. very interesting and definitely something that I have never thought about before. I was just wondering if you could elaborate on “becoming more intimate with self”. Its the first time I’ve heard this term and I’m very interested in knowing more about it. Is it related to becoming more aware of your condition by doing things like meditation? I know this might be too much to be answered in a post…if not maybe you can recommend some further reading?. Thanks

    • Hi Sebastian,

      Yes, meditation would be a great way to enhance a relationship with oneself. It’s all about getting more in touch with your inner world – your hopes, desires, feelings, thoughts, needs, dreams, your body – all of who you are!

      I can’t think of any books off the top of my head, but If I do I will be sure to let you know.
      I would start with any kind of mindfulness practice that you feel an affinity for.

      Thanks for bringing that up!


  • I read the transcript early this morning and sobbed. I am so isolated and desperate for the intimacy of which you speak that I feel I am past the point of no return. I have gained SO MUCH weight using food as my drug of choice to numb the pain, have at least momentary enjoyment, and fill the hole that is crying for intimacy and love. I’m to the point of body dysmorthia so much that it is almost phobic, phobic in that I am finding it more and more difficult to go anywhere, even the grocery store, b/c I can’t bear to be seen in public. I am ashamed and humiliated by how bad I look. I’m a 25 year Stage III breast cancer survivor, and when I had a needle biopsy last Fall after a suspicious mammogram, I was actually disappointed that it was negative. I’m that deep into depression about my weight, which I understand is truly depression over intense loneliness and despair at the absence of intimacy, connection and love in my life. I was so touched by this transcript and how you ‘get’ what I’m feeling that I clicked on the link to find out more about your program, Transform Your Relationship With Food, but I couldn’t bring myself to complete the box offered in several places in order to get more information. Sounds like a great program and, although I already know a lot of what your curriculum lists, I’m sure I could learn more, but it’s not the tools and information that I’m so desperate for. It’s CONNECTION and INTIMACY. Reading what the program entails, I felt overwhelmed at the mere thought of even attempting it when I am so far down that I’m barely functional. I’m struggling just to work and manage the basics of my life, and have no energy on any level to imagine devoting to all that the program requires. If I cannot put anything into it, I won’t get anything out of it. I am an intelligent, some say attractive, spiritual, compassionate, feeling woman who has had many intense life struggles in her 64 years and always managed to find my inner strength and courage to persevere and overcome and survive and help others do the same. But I can’t seem to regain my inner compass, my solid ground, my will to push through, in this struggle with my weight. I’m way too heavy for my frame (5’2″ & 187 lbs), and it’s taking it’s toll on not only my mental/emotional health, but also my physical health. My post-cancer chronic pain and muscle/joint dysfunction has gotten much worse, leaving me with great difficulty just moving around in normal fashion. I feel so helpless and hopeless that I guess that’s why this script touched me so deeply this morning when I was wanting to stay in bed forever. It was like someone ‘out there’ could hear my silent cry, know my wish for connection, and understand my desperate longing for love. I studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition about 6 or so years ago, and that’s where I first learned of Marc David, so I know he is well respected and authoritative. I have the website I noted, which I created after I finished at the Institute, b/c I hoped to develop a practice working with women and families dealing with cancer, and part of that work would have been cancer preventive diet. Life side-tracked me in such a way that the practice never got off the ground, but in rare moments of clarity I still dream of a day when I can be doing that fullfilling work. Your mention of becoming an Eating Psychology Coach grabbed my attention, as I would love to do that. But then I realize in the next instant how impossible that seems at this point in my life when I am so out of control with my own compulsive emotional eating. I wish I’d encountered such a program as yours years ago when my capacity to heal felt within reach. I feel stuck in quicksand. Thanks for listening.

    • Hi Mary,

      Thank you very much for reaching out and sharing about what you are going through right now. I am sending you lots of encouragement, as someone that can relate. I know it’s difficult, but try not to be too hard on yourself. You may want to check out some of our other videos on the blog that will offer some insight, along with our 3-part video series here:

      We are always offering lots of free content that you may find inspiration and support from, so make sure to sign up for our mailing list, or check back often.

      And we’ll be here whenever you feel ready to start one of our programs.

      My warmest regards,

    • Dawna Noble

      You are far too hard on yourself! 187 pounds is not horrific, dear girl. Undoubtedly you have been ‘to hell and back’ as I have as well and my son helped by advising: ‘baby steps mom, baby steps.’ Tackle one small issue at a time. For example, on a good day, walk a couple of blocks and feel good for doing so – write it down in a journal. ASK your medical team about pain… my hot tub helps me. ASK your medical team about support services. My son, a cancer survivor, had tremendous support and options from our Cancer Agency here. Remember the people who love you and want you around for a long long time and let that motivate you to discover your options. Hugs!

      • Thank you so much for your comments, Dawna. We really appreciate your compassion and the wonderful tips you’ve shared for Mary. Warmly, IPE Staff

  • Diane

    Thanks;Emily,I found this to be extremely lucid and informative;not forgetting compassionate.Keep up the good work-it’s truly inspiring!!

    • Hi Diane,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to watch! I’m so glad that you found it to be inspiring and informative.


  • Crystal Ceh

    Hi Emily

    First off let me say that this video really brings to light the powerful connection of food and intimacy. Just last week I noticed myself indulging in more delicious snacks, namely liquorice and dark chocolate, and realized that it was probably because my husband was on a trip and I was feeling lonely and, you guessed it, desiring intimacy and connection! As a Naturopathic doctor who always promotes healthy nutrition to her patients, I realized that I definitely need to be asking deeper questions as it relates to food and people’s relationships with it. It’s easy to create a super healthy diet plan but if food is one of the only pleasures or comforts that people have in their life, taking that away could be psychologically harmful. The deeper desires and concerns need to be addressed, in addition to helping people make healthier food choices. I think the work you and Marc are doing is truly revolutionary and I always look forward to more insightful videos, especially to share with my clients and loved ones! Thank-you!

    • Emily Rosen

      Hi Crystal,
      So happy to hear you found this to ring true for you – and what an interesting insight you discovered during your husbands trips, and you’re absolutely right: so much about our relationships with food are left unaddressed. So glad this will be something you bring up with your clients. Thanks for all you’re doing in your Naturopathic practice to help others!


  • Dawna Noble

    Somewhat insightful but too generalized.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment on this article. For more a more in depth look into the study of our relationship with food, you can find more resources here on our blog that expand on the topic, visit our free Eating Psychology Podcast in iTunes, or see if our 8-week online program Transform Your Relationship With Food is a good fit. We’d still love to hear how your relationship with food improved when you created more intimacy in your life, with yourself, or others!

      IPE Team

About The Author
Emily Rosen

Emily Rosen is the Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, where she oversees business development strategies, student affairs, marketing and public relations in addition to her role as Senior Teacher. With an extensive and varied background in nutritional science, counseling, natural foods, the culinary arts, conscious sex education, mind body practices, business management and marketing, Emily brings a unique skill-set to her role at the Institute. She has also been a long-term director and administrator for Weight Loss Camps and Programs serving teens and adults and has held the position of Executive Chef at various retreat centers. Her passion for health and transformation has provided her the opportunity to teach, counsel, manage, and be at the forefront of the new wave of professionals who are changing the way we understand the science and psychology of eating and sexuality. Emily is also co -founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.