Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wasting food...

Thanks to my Google Alert, I found Jonathan's post on his blog, Wasted Food, entitled "Eating Disorders and Waste."

He replies to a post by Karen Koenig, author of The Rules of Normal Eating entitled, "Rational Eating Beliefs."

I had half a mind to post the following reply to Jonathan:

You don't get it.

Depending on what type of eating disorder one has, leftovers in the fridge may fuel a binge (and possibly a subsequent purge by vomiting, laxative abuse, or starvation.) Worrying about taking too much food may lead to feelings of guilt and shame and consequently, not enough food is taken and the body turns to its organs for fuel.

Many people with eating disorders feel that eating is a waste of food. We don't feel that we are worth nourishing. When in the throes of an eating disorder, I would never take seconds - even if I was still hungry. I didn't want to "waste" food that could be used to fuel someone else - someone more worthy of living.

While recovering from my eating disorder, I needed to allow myself to "waste" food. I needed to learn how to listen to my body to figure out when I was hungry and full - because I had lost that connection. I needed to learn to believe that it was okay to miscalculate and take too much. It reinforced the belief that it's okay not to be perfect.

Now that I'm recovered, I gauge better how much food I need. I'm not afraid to take seconds if I'm still hungry. I save leftovers and am not worried that it will fuel a binge.

And I teach my son to listen to his body and give him the choice of what to do with the uneaten bits on his plate. "Do you want to save it for later? Or should I throw it away?" He almost always wants me to save it. But it's his choice. He is worth more than a few bits of food.

And so am I.

I didn't post this comment.


Because my husband said it best, "He won't ever get it."

Very few people who have never suffered or supported someone who suffered through an eating disorder will ever understand the torments in our minds. The feelings of worthlessness, the feelings of shame and loathing that accompany every minute of the day and crescendo at mealtimes.

Waste food?

Yeah, I waste food and I don't even bat an eyelash. I refuse to give food the power to shame me anymore.

I'm more than what I eat.


t said...

I hear ya!

My solution to "wasting food" is starting a compost bin. I let the food waste away in there, and use it to replenish the soil. It works for me.

As for Jonathan, he can bite me.

I've said this before, but I'm so impressed with how you're raising your son.

ms. em said...

damn straight, jeanne!

Jeanne said...

Thanks, t and ms. em!!

As Ben Stein said on his game show, "I'll do my best" for my son. 8-)

carrie said...


I struggled with wasting food, which meant I would then binge and purge on it. Waste, still.

We're too good to deprive ourselves of good food. If that means "waste" so be it. I'd rather waste food than, I don't know, my health, my sanity, my body, my life.

Jonathan likely won't ever get it. But you said how you felt and that's the important part. I've given up trying to explain my ED to some people. It's not about vanity!

And doing the best for your son is the best there is for the BOTH of you.

Sarah said...

great post and I really admire how you're raising your son.

I never thought of starvation as a purge method before. I can't figure out how to phrase that so that you won't think I got the idea from you, which is not the case, I have restricted, especially after a binge. I just didn't make that connection (or didn't want to let myself make it). Of course it makes total sense.

thanks for all your support, especially over the past few days. it's been hard and I really appreciate having you around.


Faith said...

Thanks for this post. I have gone through various cycles with the idea of "wasting" food vs. puking up the food.

This person thinks he is talking to an audience of healthy eaters.

I am with T - I am getting a compost bin so I can grow veggies in the yard.


Jeanne said...

carrie - Absolutely! Our health, our sanity, our bodies, our lives are worth more than food.

And not everyone will get it, but that doesn't make our experience, our struggles less worthy. It doesn't make our pain less felt. So to the devil with those who won't even try to understand.

You're right - doing my best for my son is the best thing for us both. He's saved me, that little man of mine, more than anyone else. 8-)

Jeanne said...

sarah -
For me, starvation leads to bingeing which leads to guilt and more starvation which leads to another binge, ... It's a horrible cycle.

Once I realized it was a cycle and that I often wished I could make myself throw up after spending hours in the ladies trying (feeling like a failure because I just can't make myself vomit,) it dawned on me that my behaviors were more bulimic than anything. My form of purging (punishment for indulging in anything - food, happiness, pride, etc.) was starvation.

You're welcome, sarah - you aren't alone in this. None of us are.
Thank you for showing me that I'm not alone either. 8-)

Jeanne said...

Faith -

True, he does think he is talking to healthy eaters. But honestly, there aren't that many naturally healthy eaters out there - not in the U.S. anyway. I guess his post really angered me with its blatant disregard for the struggles of those in recovery.

Composting is an awesome idea - if I still had a yard, I'd think about doing it.

Thanks, Faith!

hayley said...

hi I really liked this post.
lucky old Jonathan, to live a life where he gets to have such easy morals wasting food = bad. where as the difficult truth for many here (and it has taken me years to get to this point)is that wasting life is worse. and wasting potential and happiness and time, and health is a crime compared to putting leftovers in the bin.
love h.x

Jeanne said...

Absolutely, hayley!

Life - happiness, health, moments - are worth more than inanimate objects.

Thank you for stopping!

Jonathan said...

Hey there, it's public enemy #1. I'm sorry if my post has offended anyone; that was not my intention. Jeanne, I wish you had posted that comment on the site. Conversations, even when confrontational, are always helpful. In this case, I've learned that waste is part of getting past eating disorders.

As you can guess, I don't have much experience with eating disorders. While I did state that a person's health is more important than saving food, I can see why the post offended. I do take issue with the assertion that I'll never get it, because I'm now trying to do just that.

All of your comments are educational. I've learned not to make kneejerk reactions that wasted food is always wrong. It usually is, but not always.

Just as I've learned from this experience, the one thing I would ask of you all is to try to educate the general public. True, most people will never get it, but I hope you at least give folks a chance to understand.

Jeanne said...


You are by no means an enemy! Never think that. Thank you for posting your thoughts!

You see, many people (myself included) who have or do struggle with eating disorders often feel like our thoughts don't matter. And even if we think our thoughts count for something, we rarely believe that anyone would even listen. And in our lives, our speaking up has often been ridiculed and mocked, or worse, disregarded completely without any attempts to see our view.

Your comment truly means a lot to me. So, thank you for taking the time to try to understand. Not many people do – even those whom I call loved ones. I am working on speaking my thoughts – which is why I started this blog, but I still have a ways to go – like feeling comfortable posting comments in someone else’s space.

I do see large amounts of wasted food – in restaurants, in grocery stores, in cafeterias. I applaud you in your work to reduce the quantities and in so doing, feed those who would otherwise have nothing to eat. In some ways, we are both working towards the same goal - saving lives. We just have a different audience which requires a different approach.

Thank you for publishing your original post and for commenting here!

Jonathan said...

Thanks, Jeanne. I appreciate your response. I agree wholeheartedly that we're working toward the same goal, but taking different approaches.

It seems like you're really getting used to communicating. Keep speaking up, the world needs it!