Friday, August 14, 2009

Wasting Food

Having grown up poor, I developed a bad habit which I find difficult to break to this day. That is, I will eat things that aren't healthy or tasty because I feel I must not waste food. I will give you an example of what I mean from a recent experience.

My husband was eating a store-bought chicken sandwich and the meat distribution wasn't perfect, as is so often the case. The end of the sandwich was nothing but bread so he left about a 1 inch stub of it on the plate for tossing in the trash. Though I had already eaten my lunch, I had to resist the urge to eat that remaining bread. I wasn't terribly hungry (nor really full as I'm eating small portions), but all I could think of was that there was nothing wrong with the bread and I shouldn't be throwing away good food.

Similarly, I was cutting up some watermelon and endeavoring to cut as closely to the rind as possible so as not to waste any of the edible portion. I do this despite the fact that the fruit closer to the rind isn't as sweet or tasty as the portion further from it. I do this because I find it hard to bear any sort of food waste.

I'm sure that this mindset was one my parents instilled in me both through role-modeling and admonishing me for not cleaning my plate. Given that my mother always prepared mountains of white carbohydrates at every meal, you can imagine how this mentality fueled my family's weight problems.

One might think that now that I am an adult and in control of my own food consumption and choices, that I could easily abandon the habit of finishing off my husband's unwanted morsels. Nonetheless, tossing edible food in the trash, even when I don't really want it, is a triumph of will for me. Though I'm getting much better at it, I still feel guilty about doing it. In the end, I think that there is an element of low self-esteem playing a part. It's as if I don't think I deserve to only eat food that I actively want or enjoy and that the unwanted leftovers are appropriate for someone like me.