If you’re a member of the clean-your-plate club I urge you to read this blog entry; not because I am the end-all-be-all or because I am so full of wisdom that you must listen and follow every word I say but because what I’m about to tell you is something that I struggle with every day and you probably do too.

Starving children in Africa would be grateful for that meal!

We’ve all heard it, “there are starving children in Africa who would be grateful to eat that!”  My mom, your mom, our grandmothers…all the mothers in the world have mutter these words.

Eating out of guilt was one of the many reasons that I packed on an extra 165lbs which is why one of my personal guidlines for living a happy, healthy I’mperfect Life is to remember that no one wants my leftovers, not even me!

its-time-to-leave-the-clean-your-plate-clubWhat’s constitutes leftovers?  Leftovers are anything that didn’t get eaten the first go round, whether it’s food that I prepare myself (with a few exceptions) or to-go boxes from restaurants.  I’d like to say that I’m totally militant about this, but I’d be lying if I said that.  However, I am pretty strict with myself about this rule.

Part of my happy, healthy lifestyle is ENJOYING good food, not just eating it– there’s a difference.

When food is prepared properly it is served with the best texture, proper consistency and at the right temperature- none of which can be perfectly recreated when a food is re-heated no matter what means you use to do it.

The real joy of eating a prepared meal is then diminished to just eating something that tastes…okay.  This means you’re eating it because it’s easy, or because you paid for it and don’t want it to go to waste or worse… just because it’s there.  None of these reasons are good enough to feed your body sub-par food.  What’s worse is when these leftovers come from a restaurant.  What’s worse than that? It’s when the food was a splurge.

Typically we’re not going to bring home leftover salad from date-night last night.  We know that the lettuce will be wilted and the other veggies will be soggy, right? But if we splurged and ordered the Fettuccine Alfredo, chances are we’re going to box that sh!t up and eat it for lunch or maybe dinner tomorrow.

There are lots of books, magazines, health gurus, etc., that will tell you that this is what you’re supposed to do.  Some will tell you to ask for a box when your food is delivered to your table then box half of it immediately to take home and enjoy later to avoid over eating.

This is great in theory but what are we really doing?

While this concept is a good idea to prevent over eating at one meal, it doesn’t solve the problem of eating healthy for the next meal.  You’re still eating the entire meal, you’re just spreading it out over the next couple of days.  Instead, enjoy the meal you orderd until you are full and then THROW THE REST AWAY!

Call it good.

Don’t worry about the children in Africa, they don’t want your leftovers.

Don’t worry about getting your money’s worth- the amount you DID eat and ENJOYED was worth it

As soon as you are full ask the server to remove the plate.  Don’t pick at it and don’t give into him asking if you’d like a box.  The answer is, “No thank you!”

If you really can’t justify paying for the food then try these options:

  • Don’t order it.
  • Order something else- a couple of sides or a half portion if the restaurant will allow it.
  • If you are dining with someone else try to convince them to split something.

Enjoy your food the first time you eat it.  Savor the intended flavors and textures and don’t feel guilty about throwing the rest away.  The starving children in Africa won’t mind. I promise. There are other, more effective, non-self-destructive ways to help them and others.

You could start by donating the time or money (that you might spend on pizza) with organizations such as Mercy Corps which help make a real difference in our world that doesn’t include you packing on the pounds.

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