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How #foodwaste affects food waist (and what you can do about it)

Simple steps you can follow to manage your waist and your waste.

Do you manage your food choices by waste or waist? What if you could do both?

The other day, some updated stats on the status of our weight were revealed. People are getting heavier (and shorter). We’ve been on this path since 1980 according to the same report.  Connect this to the reality of our (global) aging population and a growing, deep concern about food waste.

What if these things are related and could be more easily managed?

What if you got a waist benefit from managing your waste?

The words we choose in our internal and external conversations matter. Remember back in the day “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me“, or “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you“.  Lessons from the playground. Picture social media as a giant playground with loads of people having (oftentimes unfiltered) opinions. Let’s start talking and approaching the conversation and what we do about it differently, because obviously what we’ve been doing hasn’t been super productive so far.

i am rubber you are glue
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No one wants to eat garbage. That’s not what we are talking about, yet that’s what people are talking about. When I was Agriculture Chair for the Food & Culinary ProfessionalsAndrew Shakman from Leanpath and I did a presentation and he said we should be calling it wasted food vs. food waste. YES. Let 2019 be the year we talk about nutritious foods in the right portions and not wasting food.

Here are simple steps you can follow to manage your waist and your waste:

Plan your meals. Eating willy nilly shows up in your kitchen trash and on you. No need to lecture anyone else on what they eat – there are honorable ways to eat many foods that respect our health and our planet.

Picture farmers, plants growing, animals being cared for and how this all works together. You might not ever be a farmer, but you get to be the caretaker of their hard work – food.  Planning is awesome because it’s what YOU can do:

  • Find recipes that share some of your favorite ingredients so you use what you buy and what farmers grew for you.
  • Freeze extra ingredients and prepared dishes. I have casserole, soup, quick bread, milk and prune juice in the freezer right now. When needed, poof! A quick dinner or ingredients in the right amounts that I need for my favorite recipes.
manage food waste

Pay attention to portions. When you eat more than you need, this contributes to weight gain. Extra calories going to “waist” and natural resources going to “waste”.  Know your needs to maintain a healthy weight that feels good for you and helps you achieve your best health. An easy way to guesstimate portions at home is to measure your bowls, plates, and cups. I just use a measuring cup filled with water and pour it into each container. Voila. You now know how much you are eating/drinking when you use that particular dish.


Pay attention to balance. Each food group has loads of wonderful options to help you get the mix of nutrients you need every day. Unless you are allergic or have medical/personal reasons to avoid a certain food, the sky’s the limit on ways to achieve maximum nutrition while respecting the entire farm to table food journey. If you only eat one food group, it’s going to be super challenging to meet your nutrition goals. Picture the plate above every time you need to plan a meal or snack. Make mental adjustments for options you prefer to eat. For anything you want to avoid, consider other items that would have a similar nutrition and taste appeal. For example, any green fruit or veggie can sort of be swapped out for each other.  Any whole grain would work, so if you like one over another, off you go.  #nomnom

Find ways to make your goals easier to achieve. You probably can name two or three things off the top of your head that aren’t your favorite things to eat or do. Focus on those first. Taking care of your nutrition needs is a great step in reducing wasted food and helping care for our planet.


By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.