Growing up so many things from my parents stuck in my head. If I left any food on the plate they would say something. They encouraged me to eat it so I didn’t waste food. If I grabbed an apple to eat they would scold me if I only ate half of it. If I grabbed any snack they would say something along the lines of “make sure you finish that” before I even started eating it. I’m sure it was frustrating for them to see me grab food, eat a bite or two, then throw away food that they paid money for. If they didn’t finish their fries at a restaurant they would always move the plate over to me and I would finish all of them. Anytime I was getting anything out of a container my mom made sure I got every little tiny bit out. I know that my parents only meant well, but those little things have stuck with me. I now need to retrain my brain to only put on my plate what I intend on eating and to stop when I get full.
My fear of wasting food got worse a couple years ago. Up until a couple years ago I was able to eat until I was full then stop. Or I might eat only a little past my full point. A couple years ago I began almost obsessively eating until my plate was empty. I was at a restaurant with someone and I maybe ate 1/4 of my food. It was a Chinese restaurant, so there was quite a bit of food. I declined a to go box because I knew I wouldn’t eat the leftovers at home. The next day that person made a comment, they didn’t mean it to hurt my feelings, but it stuck with me. I wasted 3/4 of a meal that someone else paid for. From then on I did not like to leave any food left on my plate. Food left on the plate was just money being thrown away.
I realized my issues when I first spoke to a therapist a couple months ago. We were talking about my tendency to always finish everything on my plate. She asked me why I do that. Upon first thought I knew it was because I didn’t want to waste the food on my plate. It wasn’t until we started talking about it more that I realized how deep this fear went. After I came to this realization I became more conscious of little things I did that came from the same fear that weren’t as big as finishing my plate of food even if I wasn’t hungry.
The more I thought about my path to get over this fear of waste, the more I realized how obsessive I was with this problem. I realized there were so many things I did throughout the day that were coming from this problem, and I knew I needed to stop these things to get over my fear of waste. One thing I noticed was that when I peel oranges or grapefruit I would suck the remaining fruit off the peel. I also noticed I will lick the yogurt off the lid when I pull the lid off and I will obsessively try to get every little bit out of the container. If I’m baking I lick the spoon and bowl clean. Once I became aware of these behaviors, I stopped them. I have tried to stop all behaviors that are a result of my fear of waste. I don’t want to intentionally waste anything, but I also don’t want to stress myself out over getting rid of stuff.
Talking to a therapist also helped me realize my “might as well finish it” attitude. This would come up when I was binging on snacks or desserts and suddenly realized I need to stop because I’m not hungry. Sometimes I don’t stop and look at the bag of chips or whatever I’m eating and say “might as well finish it”. I used to think that if I finish it all today then I can’t binge on it tomorrow. What I needed to realize was that maybe I should just throw that binge food away once I realized I need to stop. Once I learn more control I can always save the food and work on eating a healthy sized portion. What’s the difference in throwing it away and shoveling it in if I’m not even enjoying the food I am shoveling in anymore.
I’ve mentioned in other posts that I don’t like throwing away food because it is like throwing away money. However if i’m eating when I’m not hungry isn’t that throwing away money too? I’ve already spent the money on the food, so I might as well eat it when I am going to enjoy it instead of when I’m not even hungry. I have also mentioned that I tend to eat because I am worried I will miss out if I don’t eat it. Why should I gorge myself and feel awful after, in that case the food is making me feel bad if I eat it or it’s going bad if I don’t eat it. I might as well make the choice of letting the food I already spent money on go bad so I will feel better in the end.