#015: Can’t bear to waste food? Listen in.

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Learn how to reframe food wastage & my top hacks to reduce temptation

Times are tight right now and wasting food feels … well, especially wasteful.

But you probably find that clearing the kid’s plates, finishing off what’s in the fridge before it hits the best-before date, or polishing off food that’s been gifted to you leads to more overeating.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to reframe food wastage AND my top hacks to reduce temptation in the milli-second before shoving something into your mouth.

And, if you’ve ever dug out half-eaten cake from the bottom of a slimy bin bag … well, me to.

You’re not alone. There is a way to stop binge eating and overeating, for good, this time.

Click here for your FREE Guide: 8 Unexpected Strategies to Change Your Eating

View the full episode transcript

Now, for some people, reframing the cost of food in the way we just have is enough to stave off the urge to finish up leftovers or what’s in the fridge that’s coming up to its best before date.

But for others it’s not quite so easy. When I was bingeing, that intense moment of temptation and desire, and the milli-second it took to shove something in my mouth (even if it was just a cold fishfinger) … well, it felt irresistible and full on and I didn’t even think at the time of what it might mean for me or where it might take me later on in the day.

And it usually took me to a lot more food!

So, in the moment, what can be helpful?

Welcome to the YoYo Freedom Podcast.

This is the place to learn actionable, step-by-step tools and strategies to help you stop bingeing or overeating and start feeling relaxed and confident around food, 

so that you can show up for your life on your terms.

I’m Gemma Keys and I know first hand what it’s like to feel out-of-control around food and trapped in the pain of binge eating and body-shame.

There is a way out. 

Keep listening to discover your path to food freedom.

Hello and welcome. It’s wonderful to have you here.

Today, I’m gonna start with a question. 

And that question is, has finishing up food so that you don’t waste it ever led to an afternoon of grazing & overeating, or to a nighttime binge?

This is an especially relevant issue at the moment as prices are going up & times feel financially tighter, so of course it makes sense not to want to waste money and to try to make best use of anything we already have.

So in this episode we’re going to talk about how to deal with food that’ll potentially be wasted without feeling that the only way to make use of it is to eat it ourselves.

Let’s start with some examples of when food might be wasted.

What comes to mind straight away is a child or a member of your immediate family not finishing what’s on their plate.

Like, I’m not very likely to finish the food on a work colleague or friend’s plate, but if it’s on my kid’s or husband’s plate, well, that’s fair game, right?

Other examples might be,

When you’re gifted food

Or food that’s coming up to its best before date

Leftovers from a big holiday gathering or celebration like a birthday or something

Half eaten lunch box snacks or picnic food

Or maybe being out to dinner at someone’s house and the host’s pushing you to have an extra piece of pie or dessert, or to take some home with you so that it all gets eaten up.

All of those situations can be really challenging for someone who’s struggling with overeating or binge eating—I know they were for me. And it was a mixture of the food being in very close proximity combined with the fact it’d be wasted, or not made use of, if it was thrown away.

But, those moments of eating just-a-bit-here-to-finish-it-off can be incredibly likely to lead to continued eating later on or to a binge, which is why it’s such an important issue to talk about here.

The bare fact is, if food doesn’t get eaten, it might be thrown out. And that could be considered wasteful.

But, I also think it’s worth mulling over that assumption and being open to some possible reframes.

The one that’s often repeated is, “it goes in the bin or you’re treating your body like a bin,” as in you don’t want your body to be a waste disposal unit for unwanted food. That can be helpful but, to be honest, it can also sound a bit judgey, so use it if you like it, but if not here are a few more ideas.

The first is that, if finishing up leftovers doesn’t stop there—in other words, if it leads to more grazing or overeating or a binge—it’s interesting to notice that’ll actually end up costing more.

Again, there’s zero judgement there—I’ve done it more times than I can count—-but it is something worth noticing if you fall into that thought pattern of not wanting to waste food because of the money it’s cost to buy it.

Another cost of eating food so as not to be wasteful, especially if starting on the leftovers is likely to lead to more eating, is the cost to you in time and energy. Almost always, overeating and bingeing cause energy to dip and it’s really common to feel completely wiped out, especially after a binge. So, however you’d otherwise spend your time—whether it’s being focused at work, chilling with friends, having fun with your family, or taking time out for yourself doing something enjoyable or  restorative, or even going to bed earlier—that time is lost. 

For some people, a food-hangover or binge-hangover can last a few days—that’s how long it can take to recover. So that cost of time and energy are just another area worth noticing.

Then there’s the cost to your self-esteem.

If you binge eat or overeat, my guess is you’re already pretty hard on yourself.

I know I was. 

  • I was embarrassed that I had no self-control around one of the most basic human functions of eating
  • I felt so ashamed by my fluctuating weight and pretty unpleasant guts (if you know what I mean!)
  • I was self-conscious about my puffy face, swollen belly and half-shut eyes after a binge—it felt as if I had a sign on my forehead telling everyone what I’d done
  • And I knew I was zero fun to be around as, after a binge, I was just in survival mode—I had no real energy for conversation or for work or for doing anything much—I just wanted to curl up under the duvet and hide away from the world.

And, if you have kids, they watch you, right? Certainly more than they listen (at least mine do!)

It’s as if no misstep goes unnoticed, from my not-particularly-brilliant parking maneuvers, to my inability to surf, to my desire to be in bed by 9pm. And, goodness me, do I hear about it!!

But one thing I’d love my kids to learn—probably because it’s something I wish so much that I’d had when I was younger (that’s always the way, isn’t it—we don’t want them to fall down where we fell down) 

But the one thing I’d love them to be able to do is to turn inwards and listen to themselves—to their hearts, their inner desires, to who they are, and to be guided by what’s true for them rather than what’s top of the list for other people.

And I guess it helps me to think one of those ways is to listen to their body and whether they’re hungry before they eat, rather than being worried about wasting food. And I figure I can show them that in the way I treat leftover food.

Now—just cos that’s what I wish for, doesn’t mean it works out like that. My 14 yo boy in particular is mad for sugar and knows all the bargain places to buy cakes and chocolate and fizzy drinks, and he’ll always choose those things over his packed lunch. And he says to me regularly, (& excuse the voice) “Just cos you were a binge eater, mum, doesn’t mean it’s got anything to do with me.”

Kids, eh? They know exactly how to get to that sensitive spot every time!

But still, all we can ever do is try our best, and I’m just sharing that because when I think of how much I’d love my children to tune into their bodies and be true to themselves and their inner natures, it kind’ve helps me with the not-eating-the-leftovers thing too.

So I guess the point I want to make is that hoovering up those leftovers cos you don’t want to waste them can have different types of costs other than simply the money.

Now, for some people, reframing the cost of food in the way we just have is enough to stave off the urge to finish up leftovers or what’s in the fridge that’s coming up to its best before date.

But for others it’s not quite so easy. When I was bingeing, that intense moment of temptation and desire, and the milli-second it took to shove something in my mouth (even if it was just a cold fishfinger) … well, it felt irresistible and full on and I didn’t even think at the time of what it might mean for me or where it might take me later on in the day.

And it usually took me to a lot more food!

So, in the moment, what can be helpful?

Here are some tricks and hacks that either I’ve found useful myself or that clients I’ve worked with have told me about:

The first is the 54321 rule that I learned from Mel Robbins. The idea is that, just like a rocket taking off, you count backwards 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 and then do something different. It’s a pattern interrupter and creates that extra bit of energy needed to do something different. So, when I spot that I’m hovering in that place of temptation before scooping up the rejected quiche or lunchbox crisps or leftover slice of pizza (and there’s really only a second to spare there, right?), it really helps to take a breath, count down 5-4-3-2-1 and then straight away put the food in the food recycling or the bin or wherever.

If you’ve got kids or grandchildren, another trick is to get them to clear their plates away, including to get rid of any food they haven’t eaten. Not vegetables right?! Cos they have to eat those. But the rest. It’s kind’ve a double whammy of getting them to clear up and removing the temptation at the same time.

Packaging up leftover food and putting it in the fridge or freezer works really well for some people — especially the freezer because, once it’s frozen, you can’t eat it straight away so it’s much less tempting—and, even if you end up throwing it away later on, what you’re throwing away is much less appetising once it’s frozen.

The old classic squirt with washing up liquid trick can also be super helpful. Because sometimes throwing something in the bin just isn’t enough to stop you eating it. I know that sounds totally gross to people who don’t struggle with overeating or binge eating, but if you’ve ever picked food out of the bin and eaten it, well me too. And I’m getting a little cringy admitting that, but I’ve heard from enough people to know it’s a really common thing, and I want you to know that I’ve done it (so many times) and that it’s ok to show up here and talk about exactly what you’re struggling with, with zero shame or embarrassment.

So yes, I did used to take food out of the bin, scrape coffee grinds off half-eaten cake, stick my hands right to the bottom of a slimy bin bag just to hook out that half eaten chocolate bar, and, even if I had squirted something with washing up liquid, I sometimes tried to cut those bits off or rinse them off—which was not usually very successful at all!

So, if you feel that urgency and compulsion too, I really get it. Which is exactly why this podcast and YoYo Freedom itself are here.

And, lastly I wonder if you’ve ever been gifted anything that you know is a trigger food for you. A box of chocolate biscuits at Christmas. A homemade fruit cake from an elderly neighbour. Chocolates with flowers from visitors. I mean, birthdays and holidays can be a minefield of gifts of food, can’t they?.

In that case, it can be super helpful to re-gift. It can be to anyone — a friend, a neighbour or a drop-in centre or food bank. Actually, my mum’s part of a sea-swimming group and I’m always passing her cakes and chocolates to share around, and I think the swimming group love it and feel that it’s a treat, so that makes me happy too.

So, to wrap up, yes, there can be a cost in throwing away food. But it’s also worth considering the cost of putting the food into your own body.

My parents were post-war babies and my dad especially can’t waste a tiny bit of food which makes total sense given the scarcity of food when he was a boy. In fact, my brothers and I laugh as we can always say, “It needs eating up.” and it’s a sure fire way to get him to eat something.

But anyway, all I’m saying is these habits of not wanting to waste food—even food you don’t want to eat—can take a bit of focus to reframe and to move away from, but I hope you’ve gleaned a few new takes on that in this episode.

And you’ve heard 5 different ways to deal with the dreaded leftovers or unwanted food—even in the very moment you’re about to put it into your mouth— and I really hope you’ve found something useful to experiment with in there too.

If you have any hacks that work for you that I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear them, so please do just drop me an email at info@yoyofreedom.com or send me a private message on Instagram or Facebook. Whatever you’ve discovered is bound to help other people too, so it really is worth sharing. And, just so you know, I’ll never ever mention your name, so anything you message me with will remain completely anonymous.

And finally, if you’re struggling with binge eating or overeating and you feel like you’ve tried everything you can think of to stop, I have a free guide for you. It contains strategies that I gathered over the decades I struggled with bingeing and that aren’t the typical fix-its that you tend to come across—but these 8 strategies are actually what can put an end to overeating and binge eating, even if it’s something that’s been going on for years or decades.

The guide is called 8 Unexpected Strategies to change your eating, and you can download it if you click the link in the show notes or go to yoyofreedom.com/15. 

That’s it for today’s episode. Thank you for listening.

I hope you’ve found this episode helpful. Subscribe to The YoYo Freedom Podcast for more insight, tools and support as you pull back from bingeing, overeating or yoyo-dieting and step into your most authentic, vibrant life.

And, if you liked what you heard, it would be wonderful if you’d take a moment to rate this podcast on whichever platform you listen on.

Thank you so much! And Bye-bye for now.

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Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychological condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

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