Of Wasted Food And Hungry People

When I was younger, I was constantly reminded by my mom to finish all the food on my plate. I was told to never leave a single grain of rice. I remember being told that if I didn’t finish my rice, my future wife would have tons of pimples on her face (corresponding to the number of rice grains I didn’t finish). Now, I don’t remember if I believed her when I was a kid, but I did it anyway. It didn’t matter how much food was on my plate – I always made sure it was clean by the end of my meal.

Well into adulthood, I never stopped cleaning out my plate. It kinda became a habit. Until a couple of years ago when I realized I had to stop eating so much.

You see, when I was younger, I was what some people would call ‘fortunate’. “Oh, look at him, eats non-stop and doesn’t put on weight, I eat one carrot and put on 5 KG!”. Yeah, I used to be that kind of guy. This trait stayed with me until I started working. Maybe or year or two into my first job, I started getting fatter.

It wasn’t an overnight transformation. I didn’t really notice it at first. Clothes too tight? Maybe they shrank in the wash. Out of breath? Probably cos I started smoking. Monstrous sized belly like a pregnant mother about to give birth? Oh.

I decided I had to do something about it. I’m not too big on exercising (so much effort for so little results!) and me being a lazy person didn’t really help. I went with the next best thing – watching my diet. I downloaded My Fitness Pal (an app which counts your calories), put in my goal, selected ‘sedentary lifestyle’, and tried not to exceed my target.

Initially, it was quite difficult to adapt my diet to the app’s recommended intake. For me to lose weight, I had to make sure I wasn’t overeating since I wasn’t doing any exercises to compensate for extra calorie intake. This meant eating “just enough” food so that my stomach was satisfied not stuffed. And since I had a habit of finishing everything on my plate, it was very hard to do so.

The solution? I adapted by ordering small portions or asking for less rice, and taking less dishes. This meant I could finish my plate (which satisfied my habit) and not overeat at the same time. I managed to trick myself – consciously. If that makes any sense.

Anyway, following the calorie counter didn’t seem to have any effects for the first few months but I stuck with it. I think I used the app for about half a year and then ditched it when I had a good estimate of how much I should eat on a daily basis (it gets tiring typing in what you eat every meal).

One day, I noticed that I could fit into my old shirts and pants again. My belt started being more than a fashion accessory. Buttons on my jackets could actually be used. I started getting the “did you lose weight?” questions from people I knew. Those questions then turned into “how did you lose weight?”. At first I thought it was just people being polite, but then I realized this calorie counting shit actually worked! I’ve been vouching for the app ever since then.

While I’m nowhere near my target weight of 65KG which was how heavy I was in college, I’m a whole lot closer to it than I was over a year ago (I’ve lost 10KG since I started using MFP, currently am 75KG). I feel much better about myself and I think I look much better as well, so that’s a good thing. I haven’t gone back to my crazy overeating days and don’t intend to.

Also, I no longer have any issues leaving a little bit of food left on my plate. I guess that’s a habit I managed to break.


On a side note, I think it was an ad on radio I heard recently where they were talking about not wasting food because there are children starving in another part of the world. Trust me, it’s okay to leave food on your plate if you’re full. It’s not like the food you don’t waste is going to appear in some starving kid’s plate. It’s not going to change a damn thing.

Would you rather get fat and not help a starving kid or not help a starving kid? Exactly, two lives are at stake here, you can save one. You can also help the starving kid by giving him/her food or donating to a charity, not by stuffing your face.

Also, sometimes it’s impossible to not waste food because – some restaurants don’t let you choose the size of your portions. How about telling those places to change the way they sell their food instead?

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