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Hate Wasting Food and Money? Using Reverse Psychology to Stop Overeating

Have you ever overeaten because you didn’t want to waste food or money?

Perhaps you spent $20 on a meal and felt like you’d be a sucker if you didn’t finish your plate… (as if taking it to-go wasn’t an option).

Or maybe you can’t take it to-go (for whatever reason) and you feel like it’s disrespectful to waste food (for whatever reason).

I get it — these are HARD psychological blocks to overeating.

Let’s tackle them one-by-one shall we?

The Reasons Why You Hate Wasting Food

Just to paint a pretty picture, I’m going to list all the ways you might be afraid of “wasting” food/money/both:

  • You think it won’t be as good later, so might as well eat it all now
  • You know that you’ll be hungry later, so might as well eat it all now
  • You spent your heard earned money on it, and you’re not willing to waste that cash!
  • You feel like you can’t take it to-go because you don’t want to sacrifice flavor
  • You literally can’t take it to-go, and you don’t want to waste food or money
  • You were trained by mom and dad to lick your plate clean
  • You think others are going to judge you as a bad person for wasting food
  • You think that wasting food is disrespectful to those living without access to adequate food

I think this sums up the “biggies.” (And if I missed one, please leave me a comment below!)

Now, let’s tackle them.

1. Recognize When You’re Chasing Pleasure

Applies to these blocks:

  • You think it won’t be as good later, so might as well eat it all now
  • You feel like you can’t take it to-go because you don’t want to sacrifice flavor

Whenever you feel blocks about wasting “flavor” or that leftovers won’t be “as good,” you should equate this to chasing pleasure.

And when we chase pleasure with food, we’re dealing with hedonic eating, which is literally eating for pleasure.

While some hedonic eating is ok in moderation, it’s a problem if food-pleasure keeps us from honoring our bodies’ hunger/fullness.

2. Stop Eating for the Hunger to Come

Applies to these blocks:

  • You know that you’ll be hungry later, so might as well eat it all now

Sometimes we reason that overeating now is OK because we know we’ll be hungry later. So we’re just “eating in advance.”

But if we overeat now, then it means that we need to undereat later (if you’re trying to achieve your natural weight)…

And we all know how awful and dangerous it is to restrict our diet. (Hint: it’s the reason why diets don’t work: restriction always leads to a binge!)

So let’s all admit that “eating in advance” is a poor excuse and, quite simply, just poor planning.

Start taking leftovers to-go or plan ahead and pack snacks.

3. Start Thinking About Money as an Investment

Applies to these blocks:

  • You literally can’t take it to-go, and you don’t want to waste money
  • You spent your heard earned money on it, and you’re not going to waste that money!

Money blocks are some of the biggest psychological blocks around wasting food.

We simply don’t want to waste our hard earned cash!!!

But let’s put the money you DO have aside, and answer a question:

If there was a magical procedure that would help you become your ideal weight by tomorrow, how much would you pay for it?

Seriously take a moment to answer this question…

For me, I told myself that I’d spend up to $20k. I have even heard answers upwards of $500k!

Be real with yourself, because the more honest you are, the more illuminating this exercise will be.

This exercise helped me realize that the $10 I wasted on a half-eaten meal is trivial compared to the money I WOULD spend on my body.

So perhaps we can spin it around and consider “wasting money” on food an investment in your health.

Because it is! Anything that helps you honor your body’s hunger/fullness will benefit your health!

4. Make an Actual Difference

Applies to these blocks:

  • You think that wasting food is disrespectful to those living without access to adequate food

I’m not sure how many people struggle with this, but it’s a personal one for me.

I used to be wracked with guilt about wasting food when others in the world didn’t have enough of it.

Then I realized that, whether I ate the food on my plate or not, it was still wasted; and it did nothing to help the people I was thinking about.

So, I started donating $15/month to Action Against Hunger, one of the best charities that helps fight world hunger.

When I see my recurring charge each month, it reminds me what a privilege it is to struggle with having too much food.

I hope you’ll join me in actually making a difference.

5. Can the Judgement

Applies to these blocks:

  • You think others are going to judge you as a bad person for wasting food

Yes, some people will judge you for wasting food. What’s it to you?!

YOUR eating behavior is none of ANYONE else’s business.

And keep in mind that you don’t really know what anyone around you is thinking.

Even a nasty side-glance from someone could be about something completely unrelated that THEY are dealing with.

We just assume that others are judging us because we’re judging ourselves in the exact same way.

So stop being so hard on yourself!

You’re not a bad person for wasting food (and again, taking food to-go is usually an option).

If this is where you feel stuck, then a journey into some self-love practices might help A LOT.

6. Sorry Mom

Applies to these blocks:

  • You were trained by mummy and daddy to lick your plate clean

Many of us feel compelled to finish our plates – regardless of fullness – because we were trained that way when we were young.

The significance of this compulsion shows how effective mental programming can be.

So take back your power.

Try reciting the affirmation “I am allowed to leave food on my plate” over and over and over.

This will help program new beliefs into your subconscious, and it can seriously help. (Affirmations are backed by science, y’all.)

You are the adult now, and you don’t have to finish your plate.

Still Hate Wasting Food? Bring It On!

These days, I’m a huge advocate for wasting food, flavor, and money! Bring it on!

Does that still trigger you? GOOD! It means you’ve got work to do, honey babe.

The fear of wasting food and money are some of the biggest blocks that exist, so don’t expect yourself to change overnight.

Try experimenting with leaving a few bites behind, and see how you feel.

Sometimes you won’t be able to stop yourself from overeating because you don’t want to waste food, and that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up.

Instead, just focus on staying curious about the psychological reasons why you overeat, and gently try to peel the layers back.