Home It's All Mental Is There Ever A Reason To Destroy Your Food?

Is There Ever A Reason To Destroy Your Food?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

The situation is as follows: you order a dessert at a restaurant. You take a bite and enjoy the gooey pleasures within.

You then immediately pour salt all over the dish, as a means of preventing yourself from eating the rest.

Is there a place for this kind of behavior?

Food destruction, vaguely, is the idea of literally rendering a plate of food inedible – by way of mustard, excessive salting, ketchup, okra snot, hot sauce, that strange silica gel stuff you find in shoe boxes or goodness knows what – so that you won’t consume the rest. This isn’t to be confused with the proper etiquette practices of placing your napkin or your silverware across your plate to notify the service that you’re finished with your meal, though.

Recently, Marie Claire spent a little time lambasting health bloggers (apparently, like myself) and questioning whether or not they encourage unhealthy habits, where food destruction was mentioned. Even though the Marie Claire article has its own large handful of problems, it did make me do a little more reading on the topic of food destruction. Not because I’m interested in destroying food now (Me? Destroy food? I’m too cheap for that.), but because I’m actually someone who can understand why someone would destroy food and as someone who has been there before, I can see it in a different light now.

One of the maligned bloggers, Heather, co-wrote the following on the topic of destroying food:

I usually put my napkin in my plate when I am done eating. Mark detests this and routinely removes the napkin from my plate.  My hunch was that he wanted the leftovers under the napkin, so I started asking him whether he wanted it before I “napkin’d” the plate. The napkin signifies that I am done, kind of like an out of sight, out of mind kind of thing. I learned that Mark perceived it as a type of food destruction; it made him feel uncomfortable for me, I think.

I am generally too cheap and too appreciative of food to destroy it, but I have (very recently) thrown away a whole batch of cookies because I could not stop going back for “just one more.” In a perfect world, I would have cookies, put away cookies,  step away from cookies, and have a nice day. [Un]fortunately, I am not perfect.

In the same post her co-blogger, Mark, countered with the following:

If you have an unbridled sensation to eat everything in sight you might consider mixing your peas and mashed potatoes once in a while. Second thought, bad example; peas and mashed potatoes are a match made for my mouth. Let’s talk battery acid and hamburger meat instead.

Utterly destroying your food (in the literal sense, not in the “you dude, you just destroyed that steak” sense) might be a practical tool for some people who have bigger problems than… well, food destruction. Putting some rocks and sand into your Lobster Bisque to save your life isn’t madness, it’s just survival of the fittest.

However, if you’re an otherwise normal person I would suggest a dab of discipline over a dash of diaper meat. Don’t destroy your food.

He said more about food destruction being “a slap in the face to the poor and starving,” but I don’t really find that relevant to food that’s already been bought and paid for… unless there’s some restaurant allowing you to return a portion of your food so that you only pay a portion of the price… and the rest goes to starving children in third world countries. It’s just a weak attempt at guilt.

After watching that series on How Junk Food Affects The Body, I have the following question: If someone has allowed themselves to enter that wash-rinse-repeat cycle of “feeling bad, knowing [insert food name] will make me feel better, pursuing and eating said food, feeling good temporarily from the high, crashing from the high, feeling bad”… what would be so wrong with actually recognizing that you are in the middle of said cycle, and breaking the cycle mid-way?

I can think back to when I first started learning just how our brains react to sugar and how the brain’s response is similar to the response to heroin. I’d always say to myself, “Aw, it won’t be so bad,” as I tested the theory out by eating some crap I had no business eating… and sure enough, if it gave me that strange “Mmmmm” feeling, if it had too many chemicals in it, or if it had a few specific characteristics (like, being made at a large franchise, big company, or chain bakery)? I felt my control slipping away. I felt my inability to keep myself from continuing to eat it… and the only thing that’d keep me from continuing my complacency in the cycle would be to toss it. Sometimes, I’d just let it meet my favorite friend, Mr. Garbage Disposal.

I question Mark’s stance because it implies some element of will power, and I know that the chemicals in most food are put there to supersede our will power. It also implies that hunger is there for a reason and, while I don’t disagree with that, I also think we sometimes confuse hunger with craving.. and psychology (and, hell, marketing) even says that something as minute as a memory can trigger a craving that, for a lot of us, can be confused with hunger. They’re simply not the same.

Then again, maybe I’m not the “otherwise normal person” he’s referring to. Interesting… considering this definition of normal – “approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment” – and the fact that the average American is, essentially, overweight and may be suffering from the same issue.

When I cook at home, I have will power enough to determine my appropriate portions. When I dine out, I have to interfere some secondary way – like ordering a much smaller dish, or having the server take away half of it in advance. I’ve yet to destroy food like tossing hot sauce on cheesecake, but that’s because I no longer eat cheesecake often enough for it to matter. If I were placing myself in that kind of situation regularly, I can’t say it’d be that easy. That leads me to my next point.

My experiences with having to throw away food have taught me a valuable lesson that comes from a place where my excessive cheapness intersects my desire to make smart decisions. I used to forget that the aim of the game wasn’t to be able to eat what I wanted without penalty, and just fret about burning the rest later during some hellish bout with the treadmill… it was about developing the ability to say NO to the things my brain was once addicted to. If I am facing a situation where I run the risk of having to “tamper with my food” in order to maintain my level of self-control… I stop myself before I place my order. If I find myself messing with some ingredients to make something-I-have-no-business-eating, I stop myself, take a long drink of water, relax and step away. As someone who can admit that I was truly a sugar addict, I can approach my addiction from a place of awareness… and learn from the situations where I had to render my food inedible instead of continually putting myself in the position of having to turn my plate upside down and smash the creamy goodness underneath.

Of course it tastes delicious. It wouldn’t sell if it didn’t… but I know better. I know that the stuff inside messes with my head and if it’s going to cause me an inordinate amount of guilt? It soooooo isn’t worth the hit to my self-esteem to eat it. Food – namely, food that alters my ability to control myself – is not that deep. I’m glad I can say that now.

Having said all that… is food destruction a bad thing? If it operates as a cycle of guilt, then I can absolutely see that being a problem. If it’s a part of an epiphany that says “Maybe I shouldn’t order this any more if it’s going to trigger this ravenous reaction within me,” though? It might not be so bad.

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Nile October 15, 2010 - 11:23 AM

Interesting topic
I think it is a bad thing as it shows uncertainty, and the lack of self control.
I would never order something that i won’t finish and that is why i am over weight :)).

ChellBella October 15, 2010 - 11:24 AM

Is this a dumb question but are they pouring salt on it after they are finished, or ordering it, knowing they shouldnt have it then pouring something over it after they took a few bites?

The first thing that popped into my head was that there are so many children who are going hungry, but the truth is. Me not throwing away a piece of Cheesecake isn’t about to stop world hunger. Now if one actually took the money instead of buying a dessert each time they went out, and then donated it to starving children then that would make sense. I think that whole ” there are starving kids in ___ Insert country is a guilt thing that parents did to make us eat all of our dinner. THen it carried on into adult hood, and then repeated the cycle. So we now fill guilty for wasting food, or not clearing our plates, when we should let children listen to their bodies say “im full” and just keep it as left overs.

I use to destroy things like Candy Bars after taking one bite so i wouldnt go back, but then i slowly had to tell myself just don’t eat it period. I also did it to Sodas when I was weening myself off of them. I would fill my cup with ice, and whatever Soda i could fit in the cup I threw the rest down the sink. I’m not suggesting anybody go that, but it helped me not drink as much, and now im practically soda free now, and pretty much juice free. I even use to pur water in the soda …and drink it, just like i did with sweetened tat.

I don’t know that it was a weakness in will power but I can attest that removing something that you love, and equate with happiness, for me (soda & sweet tea) isn’t easy and sometimes you have to do what you have to do in order to cut it out.

Erika October 15, 2010 - 11:31 AM

You bring up a really interesting point – will power is a confusing topic to me… because if our brains are built to respond to reinforcing behaviors (like being addicted to sugar) a certain way… and we’re deep enough in that cycle where it truly IS an addiction, just how successful is something like “will power” going to be, there?

I just don’t know if it’s all as black and white as we’d like… especially when black and white is what makes us most comfy.

Erika October 15, 2010 - 11:32 AM

Oh, by the way… they’re “pouring salt” on food in the middle of eating it to prevent from eating any more of it.

Eunice October 15, 2010 - 11:29 AM

Hmmmmmm… I can understand throwing something away if you’re full or just don’t want/feel like eating it anymore.. But “destroying” food by putting hot sauce on it or whatever, seems like a questionable, additional step. Why not just throw it away? Thats where I’m confused..

Erika October 15, 2010 - 11:33 AM

I think that’s the point where people say it might be excessive – I know that I felt a little surge in power when I was tossing something in the trash… I could imagine someone dousing something in hot sauce and saying “No, you will NOT get the best of me!”

It’s just curious to me.

Curlstar October 15, 2010 - 12:23 PM

LOL and ew @ okra snot! But I get the point 🙂

Erika October 15, 2010 - 8:29 PM

Dude… I’m a proponent of embracing your veggies and all… but okra? THE EXCEPTION. LOL!

ChellBella October 15, 2010 - 1:10 PM

yeah, i don’t think ppl without food issue realize that it’s not so cut and dry. Espeically when you hae been programmed and now all of a sudden you are reprogramming yourself to make changes. If it were that easy, then we wouldn’t have a struggle when it came to losing weight. It would be cut and dry. We all know that cutting something out blunty will later lead to binging, or whatever else ppl do.

Erika October 15, 2010 - 8:30 PM

I think that may be a little bit of that “privileged philosophy” thing going on… “those who are lucky enough to not be bothered… spending too much time worrying about those who are bothered by it.” It’s annoying… *dusts shoulder off*

Stacey October 15, 2010 - 1:24 PM

I am all for food destruction if it helps you to maintain control. I have literally bought a bag of chips eaten 10 and then just smashed the entire bags so i would not go back for more… I freeze the halloween candy so I cant just eat it on an impulse… you have to do what you have to do…

Erika October 15, 2010 - 8:31 PM

I’m with you… I just wonder if you keep going back to buy the bag, or if you eventually expect to come to a point where you realize you might need to stop buying the bag? Not necessarily requiring an answer, but I wonder about people who use this as a crutch (out of curiosity) as opposed to an effort in progress, for lack of a better term.

Jasmine October 15, 2010 - 1:34 PM

Will power isn’t always reliable when it comes to red velvet cake. I wouldn’t destroy food that I ordered in a restaurant but I don’t feel comfortable knocking folks who do. I remember at the beginning of my weight loss feeling unable to not eat.whatever was in front of me. I’ve since developed better eating habits and choices that prevent me from taking such measures to destroy my food. I’m not sure why someone would do this but if it doesn’t create a permanant unhealthy relationship with food, then it maybe a way for those who struggle with will power or portion control to curb mindless eating.

Erika October 15, 2010 - 8:33 PM

Interesting point – I definitely didn’t always have the “will power” I have now.. that’s for sure.

Curvy Jones October 15, 2010 - 2:02 PM

I really, REALLY can’t stand the duality in life.


“WOW, look at what you’re DOING! You’re So wrong!”

It’s not unlike, “Wow, you’ve gained weight” and “Hey I brought in a plate of brownies… what do you mean you’re not having one. You can have ONE. Go on. Have one. Really. Don’t deprive yourself.”

Decide. Either I “need to do something” or I can do whatever I want. OY!
/ end rant

Personally, out of sight, out of mind. If I flag down the waiter, he’s happy to remove the plate. When I’m done, I’m done. At home, when I am done, I rake the plate into the garbage. And I’m DEF not digging it out of there!

Erika October 15, 2010 - 8:34 PM

Wow, now that’s a darned good point – “It’s not unlike, “Wow, you’ve gained weight” and “Hey I brought in a plate of brownies… what do you mean you’re not having one. You can have ONE. Go on. Have one. Really. Don’t deprive yourself.””

I’ve GOT to write that down. That is a HELLAgood point.

Tiffany October 15, 2010 - 2:05 PM

I completely agree with Stacey ^, you do what you have to do. Everyone is different and handles “will power” (or lack there of) differently. I have ABSOLUTELY poured salt over something to stop me from going back and I have friends who’ve done it too. Especially in a restaurant where your food just sits there until your server decides to come back and ask if you need a box and THEN you have to sit there and wait on them to go get it and come bring it back. You may be easily inclined to keep picking at your food but not if you’ve poured salt/mustard/hot sauce all over it. I don’t like my food to touch so if I can’t pour anything on it, sure, I’ll mix it all up so I won’t eat it. Whatever works until you have the will power to push it away and take it home I’m down for. I’d do the same thing at home except normally, I am making my own plate so it has the right portions.

aisha October 15, 2010 - 2:46 PM

I’m on the fence. Everyone has “tools” that they use and if this works for someone then who am I to judge. When I went to Weight watchers meetings more than a few people used this tactic. I think when you are at the beginning of your journey you might need something like this but when you are further along your refine your tools and might not have to do something as drastic.

For instance I am one of those people who has to clean their plate. It’s just he way I was raised. So at at home I just eat on little plates. When you eat at a restarant you can’t dictate that part so I tend to just ask for a box up front if I think the portion is too big because I can’t always count on myself to be responsbile and just stop.

Outside of anorexia/bulemia, drugs and crap processed diet food I pretty much think that people need to do what works for them long term.

Kathryn October 15, 2010 - 2:46 PM

I have suffered from bulimia for 20 years. Although I’m not actively binging or purging now and haven’t for the last two years, I can find a certain value in “destroying” food. For me, food and bulimia was an addiction. I had certain steps and rituals that led up to the binge and subsequent purge. Many times in my recovery I have given in to the urge, followed through on my ritual and found myself sitting in front of food I had no business eating. The strength of bulimia can have such a hold on you that even though you hear that voice in the back of your head screaming at you to stop, you do it anyway. Throwing the plate/box/wrapper away, smooshing it or emptying a salt shaker on it became a manifestation of the voice in my head and was integral to my recovery. Being able to pull the plug on a ritual allowed me the moment of reflection and breathing that I needed to pull through my weaker moments. In fact, it gave me strength to do it again and again. Being able to get jolted out of this trance became easier until I no longer needed to destroy food because I was able to work through it before I got to the point of acquiring whatever food I had been obsessing about all day. It changed the paradigm for me. I imagine that people who also suffer from binge eating go through many of the same rituals just without the purge. It’s an ugly and complicated thing and there is a lot of shame involved, but I can now breathe through it.

On a separate note. I’m new to this site and have been grateful for the positive approach taken on so many different subjects. It’s nice to be at health/weight loss site that doesn’t rely on self-hatred to motivate.

mimi October 15, 2010 - 5:24 PM

I love your blog! This has nothing to do with the topic but someone posted a link on my blog about yours and I’ve been perusing ever since. I like that you take the time to develop your thoughts on a particular issue.

Thoughts on blogpost pending.

s October 16, 2010 - 3:02 PM

i do agree with mark’s stance that we should be mindful and grateful that we even have the option to destroy food when some people don’t have any to eat at all and are starving. keeping that in mind and the fact that i’m cheap and hate to be wasteful of food, i’ve never destroyed or thrown anything away. i try to eat healthfully so i don’t have negative emotions tied to what i put in my mouth, and for the times i dont eat so healthfully i try not to have such a big portion that i’d have to throw the rest away or i save the rest of a big portion for later.

Tiffany December 21, 2010 - 3:27 PM

Everyone has their own ways of keeping it together so to speak. Now I am just learning to listen to my body about when it is hungry. Erika you made a great point in saying that there is a diffrence between being hungry and having a craving. Also when you talked about cravings possibly being triggered by a memory. I am definitly going to keep that in mind from now on. Now when I am at home and eating and there is food still on my plate. I ask my husband if he is still hungry and wants the rest before I trash it or put it up for leftovers. I agree that it has been passed down in some households to clean your plate. I dont agree with this because it really puts you out of tune with your body and what it is telling you. I would however distroy the food if I felt I couldn’t exibit self control. However, as you said Erika I would much rather grow to a place where I would not order or cook that which I have no business eating. To start one way is okay because you have to start, but there comes a point where you need to grow beyond where you are in order to reach your ultimate goals.

LBC March 29, 2011 - 4:21 PM

I always order with the assumption that I’m going to ask for a box. Restaurant food is expensive: I want to get two meals out of it if I can. At least. At home, I try to take less than I think I want; I can always get more, right? I hate throwing food away.

I rarely order desserts but restaurant portions are always huge. I’d much rather have a little tiramisu every evening for four days than eat it all at once at the restaurant, and I sure as heck don’t want to pour salt on it!

Keelah April 29, 2011 - 10:00 AM

Whatever works! The food that I ‘waste’ will not go and feed anyone else. Its going to the trash. I’d rather trash it when I’m done, as opposed to using my body as a trashcan. Which is what it feels like when I binge on foods that arent the best for me. If I am not yet able to have a firm handle on stopping at satiation, then I believe this is an AWESOME tool to use!

Shannon May 9, 2011 - 7:49 PM

When I was 5 I got popped for telling my grandma to send that spinach to the starving kids cause I wasn’t going to eat it. The time to “not waste food” is before it’s ordered and that guy Mark needs to chill. What’s weirder, not eating or fiddling with someone else’s plate? I have a funny quote on my fridge:

When I buy cookies I eat just four and throw the rest away. But first I spray them with Raid so I won’t dig them out of the garbage later. Be careful, though, because that Raid really doesn’t taste that bad.-Janette Barber

Bannef May 16, 2011 - 5:54 PM

I know I’m really late, but this always bugs me – eating food you don’t want or need is just as wasteful as throwing it out! Sure, you should aim to prevent waste, but if it’s too late, it’s too late, whether you feel compelled to clear your plate or not.

milaxx November 20, 2011 - 12:08 AM

I don’t know if it’s a “bad” thing, but it certainly is what people call on twitter a #firstworldproblem. My rule is do not buy what you can’t eat without binging. I love ice cream. I don’t eat it every night, but I cannot have it in the house. When I want some I buy a little mini. it’s one serving and I don’t have the temptation of knowing it’s in the freezer. Gingersnaps on the other hand I love but I can eat sensibly. I like a cup of tea in the evenings now that it’s gotten colder. When I buy gingersnaps, I separate them in ziploc snack bags. Per the box 3 cookies is a serving. I can eat those and not keep going back for more. I recently came across a recipe for them I plan to try, but I’ll still use the zip lock portion method.

I know there is no way I could destroy food. I am too cheap and grew up too poor to be able to do that.

Lethal Astronaut February 16, 2012 - 4:07 PM

I’ve yet to come across a restaurant that will sell you a half or quarter serve. Combined with this, restaurant serves are getting bigger, and regularly top 2000 calories for just a main – not including entrees or sides.

When you’re faced with that, you have 3 options: you either go without, you eat a portion of it, or you eat it all.

I don’t have the willpower to sit and look at food in front of me uneaten, even though I know that I’ve had enough. The food is designed to be delicious, for goodness sake! So I push it away (if there’s space) and cover it with a napkin. And with dessert, I pour salt on.

The truth is, no-one is going to eat my leftovers, and in my country doggy-bagging is illegal, due to health issues. Most restaurants don’t even have compost bins – I’ve actually asked. And the service is so slow at a lot of places that if you asked for it to be taken away immediately, “immediately” might be another ten minutes, which is too long for me to be sitting there looking at the rest of a chocolate cake!

Then there’s the pragmatics. Realistically, restaurants and supermarkets – and even growers – throw out far more food than the occasional person putting a napkin or salt on her leftovers.

I’ll keep on asking for smaller serves and half serves to become available, but until they do, I’m not going to put on weight and eat everything in front of me that some chef has deigned is an “appropriate” serve, simply because it offends some blog reader if I don’t, so I don’t “waste or destroy food”.

In the end, I decide what I eat, and that’s that. Isn’t that part of what being an adult is all about? I think so.

ashe_phoenix April 27, 2012 - 1:19 PM

I don’t know… this sounds like a pattern of disordered eating to me. I understand the comments on doing what you have to do; but it seems like there’s a simpler way to learn portion control than buying what is typically an excessive amount of servings of food and then destroying it after you eat one or have the taste of it. While I’m not in the starving-people-in-X-country camp, it is tied a lot into our consumption culture. You’ve still consumed it even though you haven’t eaten it, and why waste that time and money? I’d even say it’s related to binging and purging except instead of eating an excessive amount of food and eliminating it, you’re eating bits and pieces of it.

And I’m not trying to shame anyone; I’m just questioning the motivation of it as another woman trying to live healthier.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 27, 2012 - 2:50 PM

“You’ve still consumed it even though you haven’t eaten it, and why waste that time and money?”

If you’ve not eaten it, you’ve not “consumed” it. That feels like an unnecessary hair to split.

I won’t deny that this can become a disordered way to live, but I also don’t deny that anything can be taken to the extreme and become a problem. Anorexics take “clean eating” to the hilt and turn IT into disordered eating. You have to know what’s best for you, and you have to be self-aware.

To me, this isn’t akin to binging because it’s one thing to go into an eating situation knowing this is what you’re going to do. Bingers are often of that ilk. It’s another thing, entirely, to get something – not knowing whether or not it’ll have the same effect on you it once did (which is something that happens a LOT when recovering from emotional eating – and discover that you’re not as “over” your problem as you were before. If you choose to respond to that by turning it into a habit, then you have a problem. If you respond to that by realizing you’re simply not ready, then you step back and don’t engage. It’s in where you go with it from there. I’ve learned that, after being bitten too many times by a certain bug, that I simply don’t go into that field to play, anymore.

As far as “why waste that time and money?” I can think of a really good reason: I wouldn’t be further perpetuating an emotional eating habit. That’s an awfully good reason, and I’m not going to potentially fall back into an old habit simply because someone else thinks I’m wasting time and money. I’d ather make sure I’m learning myself and my triggers, and if it means trashing something then…so be it.

Annette April 27, 2012 - 3:17 PM

Not doing it, I would ask for a smaller piece and pay for it. Or if I have too many cookies, take it into work and share it, or get some to my neighbor’s kids. Buy only a small serving.

There has been times that I have been without food. I know what that feel like to be hungry and not have anything to eat.

Destroying food on purpose not happening. Best to deal with the emotional baggage of over eating.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 27, 2012 - 3:34 PM

“…ask for a smaller piece and pay for it.”

You can’t always do that.

“Best to deal with the emotional baggage of over eating.”

…this isn’t helped by fueling the fire.

Shortsighted, we are…tsk.

Laurena July 31, 2012 - 12:58 AM

Thank you, I love this. My boyfriend and my coworkers believe in willpower. I had a nasty recent bout with depo-provera and experienced the truly strange, perverse *need* to continue shoveling food into my mouth long after my stomach hurt from fullness. Pile guilt and the knowledge that you are doing something horrible to your body that is going to make it fatter, weaker, more sluggish, less able, and more painful, and I was more or less out of my mind with the stupid eating game for four months.

As an (I believe) recent food-addict*, I imagine Weight Watchers meetings start with, “My Name is Laurena.” Hi, Laurena! “I’ve been cheesecake-free for five hours.” *clap clap clap*

UGH, food addiction. I don’t like it. It’s hard to get out of, and I wish my brain had never learned that buzzy “ooh, copious amounts of junk food!” feeling. In theory the depo will be out of my system in the next four months or so, but I wonder if my brain will do me the favor of un-learning that specific pleasure/need channel.

*I’ve made stupid food choices and have never been a food saint (thought some people mistake me for one. If the way *I* eat is “healthy,” I shudder to think what everyone else is eating, and envy them their metabolisms). The depo-incident is the first or at least the most extended period of my life that I would refer to as binging. I’ve “binged” in the college or teenage sense of the word before, where friends get together, food tastes amazing, and it is consumed to the point of physical pain. This is stupid, but feels more like an eating mistake than an eating disorder.

Constant “need” for food for four months? Now that felt like an eating disorder. Eating smarter is getting easier, and I can mostly eat when I’m actually hungry now, but even the memory of that is frightening. Terrifying!

Laurena July 31, 2012 - 1:08 AM

Annette, I’ve been hungry, too. The result is that I will now spend exorbitant amounts of money on good food, because I can now, and like Scarlet O’Hara, I will nevah go hungry again!

That’s not a brag or a suggestion. That’s my response to not having food, not having money, and now having access to both.

Health problems complicated by weight gain, however, cost money. Possibly more money than I throw away. My preference is always to give food away first, and I love my office mates, college students, and the food bank for that We have a serious kick-butt food bank. Can I say butt here? They operate based on studies done in 2010 on which areas of the state need what food and how much, monitor feedback from the many pantries continually, and divvy and dole stuff accordingly. I love research-based change. We still don’t always get it right, but I think it’s our best chance to do the right thing.

When it’s impractical or, more likely, impossible to give the food away, it gets trashed. I don’t need to dump salt on it: tossing it the garbage can or flagging down a waiter to take it away will do. The boyfriend sometimes looks crestfallen when I do this, and I realize that sometimes I need to ask him if he wants the rest of mine! He has been incredibly supportive in my attempts at weight loss, and will put on his stoic face (that he doesn’t know is his stoic face) and nod sagely once I explain why the food went away. “I understand,” he says. Now that I have some of the compulsive eating under control (through no moral triumph of my own: pretty sure it’s just wacky eat-more hormones leaving my system), I try to remember to offer before tossing!

Sherri February 25, 2013 - 8:38 PM

Late to the party; but love the post; this is a mixed response. There are times when even folks make poor food choices. Healthy eating is a daily journey – some good days and some challeged/challenging days. On a challenged day if my resistance is so low that salting food is the only way to NOT over indulge -pass the salt. To offset any mixed feelings having to destroy food I donate the cost of the dessert/food item to a charity of choice. Just knowing I can choose a positive course of action even after a slip lowers my stress and helps me move forward.

Megu April 13, 2013 - 10:49 AM

I haven’t read all the comments, so forgive me if this has been said before, but why not bring a few friends/relatives along with you to the restaurant, ask for a few spoons, and SHARE the dessert? No wastage and you won’t get as many calories because the calories are shared too. Tada! A fix where everyone’s happy

Jaucelynn June 17, 2013 - 8:03 AM

I love your blog! After reading this article I can understand both sides of the coin. Yes there are people all over the world starving. Yes, there are various ways people cope with working on their portion control.

If I am going out to eat as a reward, I always, ALWAYS go to the same place. As soon as my food gets to the table I ask for a ‘to-go box’ cut the meal in half and place it on the other side of the table or somewhere just out of reach. After my meal, since I take public transit home I walk to the station and hand my box to the first homeless person I see on the way there. Two birds, one stone. I don’t pick at the food and I help give someone a decent meal who would otherwise not have one.

Nicole June 22, 2013 - 8:32 PM

Americans are a privileged lot, I dare say. I have issues with will power and when I bake, I KNOW… deep inside that I am going to eat all or most of it if I can. Therefore, I have stopped baking. In the supermarkets, I avoid the junk lanes like the plague and I have pretty much memorized all my favorite eating place locations so as to avoid them. Sometimes, I take another direction, even an extra block, just because I know how badly my will power sucks. It used to be that If I passed by a bake shop… I would go in and if I go in, trust me, I’d buy something and if I pass another after that I would go in to that one too and by the time I get home, I would have bought baked goods from 3 different places, but growing up in a different country where things aren’t always that readily available, I just can’t bring myself to go into a restaurant, order food and then “destroy” it as they put it. To each his own I suppose. I’d rather just stay at home and eat nothing. When I read about the blogger who tossed the cookies, It brought to mind an article I read somewhere where one lady discussed always sabotaging her healthy lifestyle. She cooked an entire meal at Thanksgiving for herself, a meal comprised of all the things we probably should not eat much of. After she’d had a plate and stuffed herself, she was honest enough to realize that although she’d spent the money and time to prepare this meal for herself, she’d prepared too much of it and she knew she’d be eating it to completion, so she packed it all up and took it to a homeless shelter. Don’t make the cookies if there’s no one around to help you eat them and sometimes even if there are people around, I’ve found that I’d try my best to get the lion’s share, so I don’t bake anymore… until I am good at self control… I just can’t.

AddieCee September 11, 2013 - 6:47 PM

I love your blog!
But I don’t know how i feel about the idea of destroying food. I personally have been struggling with an ED since i was 14 and that was the kind of thing that I would see some of the other people (who snuck in hot sauce or salt packets)do back when i was in inpatient care. I mean if you’re mentally healthy and you are using it as a way to train yourself and gain self control i guess it would be alright, but it personally seems like a bad idea. I know that wasn’t the intention of the magazine article (i hope) but it just seems that for people who truly suffer with that kind of destructive behavior it sends the wrong kind of message.

Erika Nicole Kendall September 12, 2013 - 7:15 AM

I hate that I have to keep saying this, but people need to be honest with themselves. There’s a major difference between executing a behavior, and executing a behavior because it’s a part of a larger problem… like a disorder.

Anorexics use “clean eating” as a mask to hide their anorexia; this doesn’t negate the benefits and purposes of clean eating, ESPECIALLY as a means of addressing a different kind of eating disorder – binge eating disorder.

The fact that those with ED use destroying food/throwing food out as a way to further their disorder doesn’t change the fact that, for some, actually “eating all of it” might cause another problem entirely.

This isn’t zero-sum, and everyone is different. If you know you have that past history, then be mindful of it when you make your choices. If it’s a bad idea for you, then own up to it and be okay with that… as well as the fact that what is for you isn’t always going to be for everyone else and vice versa.

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