Thursday, August 03, 2006

Just Say No

My office refrigerator is broken. Notwithstanding the fact that New York City (the land of delivery) is one of the only places where a major kitchen appliance could be broken for months without major repercussions, I realized this week that, in fact, there is some eating-related fall-out when the refrigerator goes kaput.

Take my recent lunch experience. I ordered (delivery, of course) a slice of pizza and a side of sautéed spinach. The order arrives, and it’s enough spinach to feed a family, certainly much more than I’d like for lunch, and unfortunately, storing leftovers is not an option. As I’m spooning the spinach from the take-out container onto my plate, I pass the amount that I want and add some extra, thinking to myself, “I better have a little more, since I’m going to have to throw it out.” I catch myself and pause. What????

There are plenty of reasons for me to have more spinach, but, at the time, none of them has anything to do with me and what I want. I should eat more spinach so that there’s less to throw out? What’s that going to do? I eye the trash container on the kitchen floor and, quite mercifully, notice a number of differences between it and me.

It’s funny how the notions of “clean your plate,” “finish your meal,” “starving children in [third-world country],” subtly, but tenaciously, cling to our collective unconscious. How even someone who’s built her personal and professional lives around intuitive eating so easily falls into a trap like this.

I’m not happy that I had to throw the spinach out (in an ideal world, I would have given it to someone else), but I am happy that I tossed my amateur trash-can impersonation and recognized that just because someone gives me more than what I want, doesn’t mean I have to take it.

9 comments:

PalmTreeChick said...

I hate the idea of having to throw out or waste food as well. At picnics or whatever, I always try to make sure nothing goes to waste and the people don't just throw things out, but give them away to people.

I never really clean my plate, unless I'm really hungry, so I'll always take leftovers home, even if I do end up throwing them away.

(I am making no sense right now.)

chrissie said...

I've never quite understood the whole "starving child in [third world country]" rationale for cleaning our plates. It's not like we're going to send them our left over chicken breast and corn. I understand that it's wasteful but I think a better tactic would be to serve smaller portions and then have seconds IF you're still hungry (a few minutes after you've finished your first plate that is) as opposed to serving too much and then guilting the child (who then becomes a plate cleaning adult) into eating too much.

Leaving food on a plate at a resturant or after having some take out is reasonable. The serving sizes are typically entirely too large (I went to a resturant with my parents that served [no lie] TWO chiken breasts for the grilled chicken dinner). But at home you control how much you put on your plate. That's why I have an inherent dislike now for those huge face sized dinner plates. I eat my foods off the more reasonably sized salad plates.

PalmTreeChick said...

The only thing I like huge are salads. Everything else can be tiny portions, but I love a nice, big yummy salad.

HaileySqueek said...

I'm new to inutitive eating, as I've only been doing it for 2 1/2 weeks now. One thing that has been important for me to realize is that eating food that my body doesn't need is just as wasteful as throwing food in the trash. It all becomes waste, right? Or it excess fat that my body doesn't need but will have to carry around. I would even argue that eating food I don't need is more wasteful than throwing it away.

allisonsky said...

Great post Dr. Stacey! I think most people do fall into that trap. It's kinda like when you are full after eating cake, but feel you have to eat the rest, do, and then regret it.

ps22 said...

I hate wasting and can totally relate. I like that I don't waste when it helps the environment or saves me money (e.g. re-using my bags at the grocery store), but I totally do it unneccesarily with food. A recent visit to see my father made me see where i get it from. The guy is a bloody vacuum cleaner. He's also obsessively clean, so I'm not sure if it's that he doesn't like wasting food....or that he just likes to see an actual "clean" plate (god forbid there's clutter).

Donna said...

When I notice I make a conscious choice, as you discovered, it's those little victories from which I dereive motivation. If I don't catch myslef, and I do indulge in more than I really want, then I start an awful circle of fighting with myself, which eventually creates a feeling of self-hatred.

drstaceyny said...

ptc--it's hard for me to see food go to waste, too (especially living in NYC, where plenty of ppl are going hungry).

chrissie--I agree. You're right, many restaurants serve huge portions, and the problem is that we've been schooled to clean our plates, despite their size.

ptc--especially during summertime. . .

hs--yes, it is waste, either way (and only one of these involves not being kind to yourself).

as--yep, that's it. . .

ps--interesting pt on how so much of this is intergenerational. . .

donna--it does feel good to "catch" yourself and to identify what you really want/don't want.

Haley-O said...

My cats are pretty good trash cans....They could be better though. This is a great post. A great reminder that I should be practicing intuitive eating.... Thank you. I just finished breastfeeding and am feeling pressure all over the place to finally lose the weight. It's so hard not to diet. Thank you for reminding me, yet again, to just listen to my body and forget about "rules," etc..