How many times have you sat down to a wonderful meal and thoroughly enjoyed eating it? Plenty I hope. BUT. Yes, of course there’s a but. Have you occasionally – or more than occasionally– left the table clutching your stomach (and trying to hide the fact that you’ve undone the top button of your jeans), genuinely surprised that you can still fit through the door? Not very pleasant, is it? Ruins a perfectly good meal. Unfortunately there is such a thing as eating too much good food. Sad, but true. Splurging from time to time is human – those stuff-your-face-with-anything-carbs/salt/sugar/fat/anything days are a fact of life. We won’t include them here. When the overeating goes rampant on a more ‘local’ basis, say over a luxurious dessert, and results in a horrible, bloated six month’s pregnant belly (anyone else own a pair of fat pants solely for this situation?) it’s not so amusing.
It can be quite jolly to moan about your predicament for a few minutes, but then the realisation sinks in. “I just ate a scrummy meal and now feel positively squeamish. Whhhyyyyy oh whyyyy did I do that?” Self-inflicted food pain is a grave problem. I kid you not. Why? It’s downright wasteful, not to mention uncomfortable. Why bother eating a delicious meal, only to hope to high waters you’ll never have to eat again, ever, afterwards? We’ll leave the guilt associated with this for another time. Right now it’s the wasted pleasure we’re going to discuss.
Let’s zoom back in time to late last year. It’s a Friday night and I’d made a healthy sticky date pudding the night before (nope, not lying it is actually healthy – recipe to come your way in due course). We had a fair amount small mountain leftover. I cajoled the household into finishing it, fearful that it would spoil by the following day. By ‘three-quarter time’ we began to groan. Full, up to here (*points at neck). Yet against all logic we struggled on. On finishing we staggered to the sink, adamantly stating that never again would we eat that much in one sitting. Never again would we eat pudding.
No one fancied throwing away the unwanted pudding – it seemed blatantly wasteful, yet despite those seemingly gallant thoughts, the pudding was wasted. By eating food to the extent that you feel distinctively ill afterwards you aren’t really ‘saving’ anything. For one, you know that you don’t need the food, having felt full for some time, and secondly any enjoyment you had for the meal has long disappeared.
It feels hypocritical and practically downright rude to suggest, or even think it, but perhaps in some cases conceding to throwing out a bit of food here and there is a wiser option than soldiering on to finish it. Why, you may not even be confronted with the waste dilemma – simply stop when your stomach says enough. Remember that you want to enjoy your meal. If you are, one would hope that everything possible had been done to prevent the situation occurring in the first place, such as halving the recipe, freezing left overs or leaving them as a gift for the neighbour. Yet if you do find yourself inundated with food, take the time to consider whether throwing it out is in fact more wasteful.
I spent many an evening at Oxford eating considerable more than I should have at formal hall simply because I knew that what I didn’t eat would be thrown away (come to think of it smuggling left-overs out would have been a good idea). I also spent a considerable number of those evenings feeling very uncomfortable afterwards. It took me a long time to break the habit (with the occasional slip up). Here’s to you doing it earlier.