The dark side of caring about food waste

I really hate food waste. It’s something I’ve been brought up really considering and it’s been a bug bear of mine all my life.

I’ve even written a couple of articles about it for the Health Bloggers Community and offered tips on how to reduce food waste. 

This was one of the most startling statistics I turned up doing the research for those pieces:

UK households binned £13bn worth of food in 2015, meaning the average UK household wasted £470 worth of perfectly useable food. 

So I know what you’re thinking - Vicky’s just going to regurgitate the same opinion she’s put in her HBC pieces for us here on the blog. Telling us to use up odds and ends, stop over buying and mix it up in the kitchen. 

Well…. Yes, there is all that. I definitely believe creativity and courage in the kitchen would really help combat a lot of food waste that happens around the world. Opening the fridge and knowing that you can rustle up a meal out of bits and bobs that are leftover I find incredibly satisfying and often results in some exciting and tasty combinations that you might never have discovered before. It saves a lot of money and means nothing goes unused. 

It’s the reason my e-book is all about stocking your cupboards for healthy eating and why I lay out the ingredients I always have in my kitchen which can be used in a multitude of dishes.

Want to get your hands on a copy? Sign up to my mailing list and I’ll send you the link when it’s ready!


However. I think there is also a negative and slightly dark side to food waste which I never really see anyone addressing. 

Common phrases in my family home go something like this:

“Well that’s not going back in the fridge”

“That’s not a whole portion - who’s going to finish that?” 

“No point leaving that little bit”

Do any of these sound familiar to you? 

As a child there were two phrases used on repeat. “Finish your dinner, think of all the starving children in Africa.” And from a toddler I was told “if you don’t finish it now you’ll have it for your tea.” And I did. No waste, that meal got reheated and I’d have it again that night. 

I’ve said before in my blog post Health blogging made me fat - I’m actually not someone that craves sugary or fatty food. I guess my upbringing and my natural tendencies are positive in that respect! I don’t eat whole bars of chocolate in one sitting, I don’t binge drink and I don’t have a take-away every other night.  I don’t like or buy packets of biscuits, we don’t have fizzy drinks in the house and sweets make me feel a bit sick if I’m honest! 

What I do know is I eat too much of is the stuff I love. And often that’s food which might be deemed ‘healthy’.

Here’s me most weeks:

Porridge - ahhh that's basically the end of the packet of oats, I'll pour the lot in.  

Pasta or rice - well that’s not a whole portion, no point leaving that. 

Crudités and homemade dip - just. one. more. 

Having those messages about food waste drummed in for a lifetime has meant that my portion control is shot and my ability to just stop eating and listen to my body has been rendered non-existent. 

I once found myself at university chowing through dry, overcooked pizza crusts, just because I was so used to being told to clear my plate. Luckily I did at that point have a little break-through moment - what the hell am I doing?! This isn’t even enjoyable! 

Add to that now the lack of ‘banned’ foods (read more about how I turned my back on a restrictive yeast free diet) and the door is wide open again to eat whatever I want. 

And that’s a good thing in a lot of ways. I want to feel positive about food and not limited. 

So…. what am I saying?

Worrying about food waste leads me to overeat. 

I find it’s an excuse to not stop and a mindset that doesn’t help me control my portions. 

If I don't eat it all, what's the worst that's going to happen? 

I’m pretty sure it will make no difference to the starving children in Africa - it never did even when I was 9.

What matters when I’m stood there in my kitchen wondering about popping those last 3 roast potatoes in my mouth, is my own health and listening to my body. I am not hungry, that food doesn’t need to be eaten right now. 

It’s okay to leave food on the plate. No-one’s there telling you it has to be eaten, it’s just you in your head. 

I heard the brilliant phrase “talk to yourself, don’t listen to yourself” recently. The voice in your head can be such trouble. When I’m there in the kitchen with leftovers my voice is saying to me “but it’s healthy! You made it yourself! You can’t throw it away! What a waste of money! Eat it now, that’s not a proper meal for tomorrow!” 

What I need to do is talk to myself and silence that voice that’s been with me since I was a child. What I should be listening to is my body, not my waste-obsessed mind.


What about you? Does any of this resonate? I would love to know what you think!

Food Waste | The Flourishing Pantry