I frequently find myself torn between choosing to overeat or to waste food – hardly do I create or order the perfect portion of a meal to satiate my hunger, without feeling bloated or guilty for disposing the leftovers.
Whether or not we finish what’s on our plates often has to do with the way we are brought up. For the typical Asian family, we’ve always been taught by elders to be grateful for what’s on our plates and to waste as little of it as possible, by forcing ourselves to finish our food even when we’ve already had enough. There’s even an old folklore about leftover grains of rice on our plates translating to nasty pimples and warts on the faces of our future spouses, and so we had to finish every bit of it. Silly as it may sound to some, I tried as best as possible to make sure I emptied my bowl at the end of every meal because I believed that not having to go hungry is a blessing and doing so would mean I’m thankful!
In our super-sized world, there’s more than one reason we overeat: irresistibly delicious food, ordering too much food we’re not prepared to let go to waste, and not knowing your (or more precisely, your stomach’s) limits. Literally. Everyone experiences these things I just mentioned, and while that means it’s not unusual, it definitely doesn’t mean it’s okay. I do think it’s really important to realize when you are full. Your brain takes about 20 minutes to register the chemicals released by the food you consume, which is why so many of us continue eating without realizing we’ve actually had enough. This then, is often followed by a period of bloatedness, discomfort and unproductivity.
Personally, I’m still learning to eat slow and enjoy my food to the fullest in the process. I’ve also just started to understand my appetite and the concept of satiety, as well as learn to perfectly portion meals for myself and family. Should you, then, finish your food or not? Next time you find yourself needing to ask this question, relax in front of your plate for a moment and ask again – would you rather waste your food, or waste yourself?