Food Wastage and Food Guilt

Rubbish RS CC

I was asking myself the other day, Why have I always been someone who loves food and who prefers to eat large meals? When I grew up we were encouraged to eat all the food on our plates before we could leave the table and my family always used to fill our plates up, preferring to have one large serve than smaller first serves and going back for more if necessary. I’ve always been a big eater, I just love food. At meal times my brother and father used to pile their plates high but they did a lot of sports so they needed the extra energy. Myself however, I wasn’t into sports so as I went through my teenage years I put on a lot of weight because I was eating large amounts of food (mainly sugar and carb based) and not burning any of it off. In hindsight, perhaps not my best choice at that stage of my life.

As you get older you learn to be responsible for your own choices, for the amount of food you serve yourself and how much and how often you eat. Also, once you become responsible for shopping and cooking for yourself and your family you choose what types of foods you will eat and ultimately you then define not only what your personal relationship looks like with food but also how your children will relate to food as they grow older. Personally I hate throwing out food, it makes me feel ill seeing good food being thrown away knowing that children all over the world don’t have enough nutrition to get through their day.  As a mother or father of young children who have started to eat solids we learn to manage the amount of food that we serve to our kids and ultimately how much is wasted or thrown away off our children’s plates. Often this can be the reason why many parents put on weight once they have children. All the leftovers, half sandwiches, yoghurt at the bottom of the tub, a few chips or biscuits left in the packet, half eaten fish fingers, that few mouthfuls of drink, are often consumed on the go and on top of your own meal. If your the type of parent that hates to see food wasted, and you would rather eat it than throw it out, all this food ends up adding up over a day. 

For me food wastage leads to what I call food guilt and this guilt was a big problem for me to overcome when I had to change my eating habits to a low carb diet so that I could lose weight. I couldn’t get away with eating all the leftovers anymore and I had to be super strict about not nibbling on the kids food and to throw it straight into the bin so it wasn’t a temptation. I had to make peace with this food wastage. This approach was necessary for my weight loss success and it still is something I struggle with today. I always have to remind myself that I’m throwing this food away ultimately for my health. If I’m not healthy, if I’m not in control of my weight, preventing the development of obesity related diseases and being the best person I can be for myself, then how can I expect to be on this earth for as long as possible and be the best person I can be for my children and their children.

Starting a low carbohydrate diet changed my approach to food wastage and has also made me really look at what foods I serve my children, how much I serve, how much they usually eat, and what time of the day they tend to eat. My kids have staple foods they really love like spaghetti bolognase which is always a hit, but due to their age they don’t see to like many of the low carb dinners I prepare, so I just have to accept this and hope that as they get older this will change. To ensure my food is not wasted, I tend to make dishes that can be easily frozen and defrosted for a quick meal or I make a single or double serve only of a dish such as soup where I know there will be no leftovers. 

What is Food Wastage? It’s food or beverage that is lost or discarded uneaten. When I search for Food Waste on Google, depending on the site, the estimates for the amount of Global food loss and waste amounts to between one-third and one-half of all food produced globally. Let me say this again, globally we waste between one third to one half of all the food manufactured across the world!!!! This is staggering when you think of how many people in this world are starving or suffering from malnutrition because of the lack of food. The loss and wastage of food occurs at all stages of food manufacturing from producing, processing, throughout the supply chain to consumption. Wikapedia states, and perhaps not so surprisingly, that most of the losses occur during production in undeveloped countries, while in developed countries much food – about 100 kilograms (220 lb) per person per year – is wasted at the consumption stage. This means that in developed nations we are throwing out about 100kg per person into the bin or down the drain at the point of consumption. Reasons for this may include bread going stale, ingredients not being stored correctly, food going out of shelf life, too much food being served at mealtimes, leftovers being discarded instead of consumed, etc. Just think about how much money 100kg of food per person in your household is worth, $400, $500, $600 per year? Money I’m sure we would all prefer in our pockets.

I wrote this page to encourage you to think about how your household manages food waste, portion sizes, recycling and reuse of food and packaging in your own homes. Food Wastage is finally becoming a topic we are discussing locally and globally as our global population increases. For your own interest, have a look into the strategies your local councils and governments are implementing to address the issue of Food Wastage in your local area. Below are a few sites that contain loads of information on this topic and we’ll be talking more about how we can manage food waste and recycling of food in our own homes in next weeks post. –


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