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I am not a garbage disposal

hand with apple, which cut a heartMost of us were raised to believe that wasting anything, especially food, is bad. Not just because there are starving children in Africa, but also because it wastes money. And, yes, on some level that’s true. But really, who’s harmed by you throwing away some half-eaten portion of food? I remember when I was fat, eating the remains of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich off of one of my kids’ highchair trays because “it was still perfectly good food and it shouldn’t go to waste!” I suppose I rationalized it by thinking that if I ate this then my own lunch would be commensurately smaller, therefore we would save money on food. (Okay, it was a stretch, but work with me here for a sec.) Was my lunch smaller as a result of having eaten part of a PBJ that a 2-year-old had rejected? Of course not! Did we save money as a result of my having eaten it? Um, no.

This is money down the drain – a sunk cost as economists call it – that cannot be recovered, and your eating it does not help the situation.  In fact, when you eat food that really is just garbage, you send a terribly negative message to your unconscious mind that you are nothing more than a garbage disposal, that you are not worthy of more than this throw away, crap food.

“Eating up leftovers” was always a big deal in my family when I was a kid.  Well, that’s fine if you’ve got leftover quinoa salad with edammame in the fridge, but half-eaten, leftover takeout food that you probably shouldn’t have consumed in the first place is more likely what you’ve got in those containers.  Just because it’s there, just because you spent money on it, just because you feel guilty about throwing it away doesn’t mean you should compound the problem and eat it again! I hereby grant you permission to throw it out! In fact, you will feel so much better for having taken control and started fresh with wholesome ingredients that are satisfying, healthful and nourishing.

The truth is you must simply give yourself permission to throw things out and let them go.  If this is too difficult for you, try actually destroying the food. I mean literally making it inedible by dousing it with ketchup (please note, this doesn’t work with leftover french fries!) or running water over it in the kitchen sink. I don’t know about you, but sometimes throwing away food when it’s “perfectly good” seems impossible. It can be easier if you make it completely unappetizing. You are not going to want to polish off that half gallon of ice cream once it’s covered in ketchup!

This is a strategy you can use with any unhealthy leftovers. Did you make a cake for your daughter’s birthday, but there’s still half a cake left after the party? It’s going to be a lot less tempting as you’re washing it down the drain! Wasteful? Nope, not at all. You celebrated the birthday and enjoyed a (hopefully small) treat, but you don’t need that blasted thing sitting around calling you to the dark side every time you walk into the kitchen! This approach may sound a little kooky, but it works for me. You will say a silent little “thank you” to yourself when your kitchen is cleared of the temptation and instead you have the green light to make your best possible food choices that day.

Repeat after me, I am not a garbage disposal, I am better than that.

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