Growing up, I was a card-carrying member of The Clean Plate Club. My parents insisted. In my house, we did not waste food. Ever. And as an adult, this mindset remained etched into my ethical code. It feels horribly wrong to throw away perfectly good food left on my plate. I’d sooner just eat it, even if I’m not really that hungry for it.

As you can imagine, this often can run in direct opposition to strategies for weight loss via eating less. If your weight is currently stuck and you want it to go down, you could theoretically just stop eating every meal/snack/drink when there is 10% remaining, and just throw it away. But what a waste of food! For many of us, throwing away perfectly good food goes against every fiber of our being. But for me, recently, this mindset has changed, and I now define wasting food in an entirely different way.

These days, I contend that wasting food is not strictly defined as throwing food into a garbage can. Wasting food is doing anything with food in which it does not serve a desired purpose. When you order a big juicy cheeseburger, and truly you could stop halfway through and feel satiated, what difference is there between throwing the other half in the garbage versus eating it? In both cases, it serves no purpose. At least when it ends up in the trash it doesn’t push you further from your goals. Not so when you eat it. I argue that the food was wasted the moment you ordered something bigger than you needed. What fate befell it after that is irrelevant, its fate was already sealed. If you’re going to order or prepare foods in wasteful amounts, then at least throw the excess in the trash to keep your nutrition goals in check (or give it away for bonus karmic points!).

If you don’t have much issue with wasting food, then stop eating everything that is placed in front of you (often by portions arbitrarily chosen by someone else). If you don’t want to waste food, then consider the only way you can truly prevent this is by not getting too much food in front of you in the first place. When you go out to eat, order an appetizer instead of an entree. Or ask your server to plate your entree with less food than usual. I promise they won’t mind.

To wasting less,


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