My last two blog posts touched on taking control of what and how much you eat and also what it means to get value from your food. Now I am going to get down to the nitty-gritty of what the outcomes are from our choices.
Often times when we have had enough food to eat to satisfy our physical demands, we are left with two choices of what to do with the food that is left on our plate: we can "waste" the extra food and let it get thrown out, leaving us to writhe in the guilt of throwing perfectly good food away as others starve around the world or we can "waist" the extra food by scarfing it down quickly, quieting the voices of our mothers in our heads telling us to clean our plates, only to suffer later from the guilt of eating way too much food and the discomfort of the shrinking pants syndrome, followed by the ever unpleasant lecture from our doctors at our next annual physical about our weight.
Okay, so perhaps I am exaggerating just a bit, but often times we are faced with this dilemma and it feels like a no-win situation. I cannot tell you what the right answer is for you, only you can decide that. What I will do is provide some facts on "waste" and "waist" and let you be the judge for what works for you. I can also provide a few ideas to reduce both "waste" and "waist"...which is a win/win for all!
Facts about food "waste"-
1/3 of the world's food is wasted each year, resulting in losses of approximately $995 billion per year. Asia is at the top of the food waste chain followed by Europe, Latin America and North America. Africa also has a significant amount of food waste. This is shocking considering the number of people that go hungry in these continents each year. I won't even get into the environmental impact of wasted food in this post!
Facts about food "waist"-
There are now an estimated 2.1 billion people in the world who are obese or overweight, costing an estimated $2 trillion per year. The U.S. leads in obesity numbers with 2/3 of adults considered to be overweight and 1/3 obese. Mexico and the UK are not too far behind. For the first time in history there are more overweight people than underfed people at a global level.
So now you have some facts about food "waste" and "waist"-neither of which is good news. When it comes to your food habits around buying, preparing, eating, and disposing of food, you need to decide what aligns with your goals and what really matters to you. The ideal situation would be to find ways to reduce "waste" and "waist" whenever you can, but when you have to choose...choose the one that will bring you the results most critical for you.
Want to reduce the food you "waste" and "waist"?
1. Plan meals and snacks for the week ahead of time.
2. Buy only the foods necessary for the week.
3. Buy small portions. When in doubt, err on the side of buying too little instead of too much. Does anyone really go hungry in your home after a meal?
4. Re-portion food from the supermarket into smaller servings and freeze anything that may not get used right away.
5. Cook only what you will eat in that meal unless you are a superstar at using leftovers the following day. Once again, err on the side of cooking less instead of more.
6. Rotate older foods to the front of the refrigerator and prioritize the use of fresh produce before using anything else that will stay good for a while.
7. Use any wilting produce to make soups or other creative concoctions you can think of.
8. If you must throw food away, home composting is the best way to keep wasted food out of landfills and reducing the carbon footprint it leaves.
9. When eating out, order smaller amounts of food by ordering appetizers instead of entrees or try sharing a meal with someone you love (or at least know).
10. Finally, reframe the way you think about food. Think about how little food you need to get through the next segment of your day and only buy/make/eat that amount.
Reduce food "waste" and "waist"...your body, your family, your community, and our environment will thank you!