Food Fight – Dirty Good Co.

Food Fight

The food fights in my head are getting uglier than Belushi’s infamous cafeteria shenanigans.

When I was small I wanted to be a baker. I told my mother that I was never having children because I wanted to always be the one to lick the spoon clean after mixing brownie batter. As an adult, I love wandering through grocery stores, I’m addicted to Instagram food porn, I still find baking therapeutic and I love creating recipes or researching restaurant menus. Actual, regular consumption and enjoyment of meals, however, has become laborious and almost painful as I consistently find myself putting off solid refueling until I think I really deserve it. Several cups of coffee, a few bites of trail mix or a scoop of almond butter appease the hunger and keep me feeling strong as I refuse to cave into my appetite.  Each day brings the same old discontented lamentations, self-reprimands and vows to start anew tomorrow. Except tomorrow comes and I “accidentally” forget to bring food into the coffee shop and, blaming it on not wanting to spend the money, can’t bring myself to order an actual breakfast until suddenly it’s noon and I mention off-hand to Paul how amazing the gluten free cookies at the counter look today and he agrees and we talk each other into buying one to share (counting on him taking care of at least two-thirds of it) as we head out of the shop for our run. Somehow a third of a cookie – yes, full of sugar and fat – feels comfortable while a full, real-food,  plate of eggs and potatoes is unthinkable. Then, as it’s gone pretty much every other day, we spend our hour tromping along the dirt talking about why we are stuck on sugar, why we fail at staying within the nutritional parameters we set and wondering if we even bother to keep pretending we are going to start regulating our eating habits. Or, I should say, re-regulating, because they are pretty regular right now: regularly crappy.

I know a struggle with proper eating is not something unusual, as evidenced by the enormous market for diet plans, magical food products or even more magical non-food products. Everyone is either searching for a quick fix, a new motivating dogma that will finally click or perhaps just searching for a certain camp to join, be it paleo, high fat/low carb, vegan, etc. Common sense seems to be the one thing many forget. However, even if we do consciously understand what and how we should be sensibly eating, our decisions are influenced by far more than our rational brain. Besides factors such as how we may have been raised or emotional ties to various types of foods, there is growing evidence for the mind-gut connection, which can create a cycle of mental and physical distress, unrest and disease.

“…in contrast to what Dirty Good Co. stands for, I am not thriving. I don’t eat to thrive. For years I’ve been eating just enough to get by, to appear normal, to deflect worry from most friends and family and to stay clear of medical intervention.”

The science behind how nutrition may contribute to my depression and anxiety, and/or how the mental disease may contribute to my digestive irregularities is intriguing and begs to be explored. But for now I am concerned with the neurotic, compulsive behaviors surrounding meals that I need to deal with honestly, and adjust. A conversation we had the other night emphasized the fact that, in contrast to what Dirty Good Co. stands for, I am not thriving. I don’t eat to thrive. For years I’ve been eating just enough to get by, to appear normal, to deflect worry from most friends and family and to stay clear of medical intervention. But, as I’ve mentioned before, in addition to uncomfortable, irregular gut issues, I suffer cycles of injury, roller coasters of emotions, debilitating anxiety over menial, everyday events and fluctuating energy levels. This does not lend itself to a long, vital and most importantly, enjoyable, life. In fact, most of the time I feel crazy. Most of the time I am so consumed with analyzing or planning the last or next meal ( a word I use loosely, snack is more accurate) that I cannot even concentrate fully on conversations, writing and simply enjoying the present. The anxiety and overthinking of food obliterates any enjoyment of eating.  I have watched myself remain in a state of constant irritability and intolerance of people or situations for as long as I can remember, feeling helpless to change my attitude. This isn’t just a result of my only child syndrome as I like to think, it is likely due to chronic, unrecognized “hanger.”  Long term, I keep ignoring the fact that if I don’t fuel my body better more injury or disease will inevitably keep me from freely getting outside and exploring or competing. The expectations I’ve placed on myself are flawed, and I don’t think Paul wants to be the “bad guy” with me all the time. I do want to know what it’s like to truly feel good and energetic both physically and mentally. I want to eventually enjoy a variety of food and meal experiences. Dirty Good Co. wants to encourage unconditional life enjoyment, and specifically, to show it is possible to start wherever you are, transform your life to fit your passions and enjoy the hell out of it. So I am putting out my intentions to start new habits, however small and uncomfortable at first, to remind myself of the potential for a life I deserve, full of energy and enthusiasm.

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Susan Barrows
Susan investigates wellness practices and educates people on how to nourish themselves for a balanced and joyful life. She is an Ultrarunner, Yogi, and Dirty Good Co — Founder.