Eating Well Emotions Food

No, I Will Not Clean My Plate Because People Somewhere Else Are Hungry

Yesterday I had lunch with the aforementioned person that I don’t plan to discuss much here. He grew up in a different place, in which many people didn’t have a lot, and sometimes he’s bothered when I don’t finish my meal or take the rest home.

Shrimp Pizza Louisiana Pizza Kitchen

He had shrimp on his pizza, and I had roasted garlic on mine. Yum!

We’ve enjoyed some delicious meals together, and over the last several years I’ve allowed myself to eat without finishing my meal. We typically eat healthy meals together, but yesterday we ate pizza. I ate 2.5 slices. He finished his and ate some of mine as well, and you can see what was left in the photo.

Roasted Garlic Pizza

When the waiter asked if I needed box, I said no. I wasn’t going straight home, and I knew I wouldn’t eat it anyway because I had plans to meet a client for dinner as well.

He said, “Do you know how many people in my country don’t have enough food to eat?” This time he said it with a soft smile because he already knows how i feel about it.

The first time he ever said that to me I responded by saying, “Yes, I know, but they will never benefit from my overeating.” He’s incredibly supportive, and he immediately understood my point.

I hear that statement a lot from people when I’m out at lunch or dinner, and my response is always the same. For years I overate at every meal. I indulged in too much at once and too often, which led me to an unhealthy size.

I try not to take advantage of everything I have, but sometimes I do. I do my best to conserve water at home, and I limit my consumption of bottled water by using a 5-gallon water cooler in my kitchen. I do a lot of little things to offset my consumption, but eating the rest of my meal will never be a part of that.

I grew up being forced to “clean my plate.” My parents did what they thought was best, but I’ve spent years letting go of the guilt and habits associated with leaving food uneaten. Now I’m okay with it, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that it’s okay to do what is best for myself.

Do you feel guilty when you don’t finish your meal? Do you eat leftovers regardless of what they’re made of?


Related Posts


  • Reply
    Sabrina Alexandra
    July 15, 2015 at 5:18 am

    I’ve been in a wonderful relationship for several years now. I love his family, but they go out to eat for every meal and more often than not does everyone finish their plate. No boxes needed. I used to be one to take a box, but since eating out with them I found myself following their cues of eating everything. It’s only been recently that I’ve noticed these trends and have made a point to scale back, but it’s a hard habit to change sometimes.

    • Reply
      July 15, 2015 at 11:35 pm

      He eats really quickly, at least in comparison to me too. He’s completely fit and usually makes very healthy choices. He’s just quick, and I know that’s a habit that he picked up many years ago for the same reasons. I guess it’s hard for all of us to change habits.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    I think it’s great you can eat out and not feel compelled to finish your plate. I’m still at the point where i either have to split my meal or order a smaller portion, become i will attempt to eat everything in front of me. On those rare occasions when i do have leftovers, i usually take them and, depending on how much was left or where i am at the time, I’ll either leave it on top of a trash can (that’s what a lot of people in my city do for the homeless) or take it back to the office and leave a note that says help yourself.

    • Reply
      July 15, 2015 at 11:42 pm

      I still overeat more than I should, but it’s typically easier for me to do at home. Most of the time I try to cook healthier things, but I have weak moments when I bake or make desserts. I love to bake, but I haven’t done it in months for that reason.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I also grew up in a “clear your plate” household, and to this day I can’t stand the thought of wasting food. I don’t dine out a lot but I do cook meals in bulk to portion off. I think that has helped me police myself in a restaurant. So, I do save my leftovers for lunch the next day. Whatever you need to do to manage yourself, do it. No judgment here. 🙂

    • Reply
      July 15, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      I wish I was more disciplined when it comes to cooking in bulk. There are things that I don’t mind eating as leftovers, but I need to spend more time making those things at home.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    If I take it home, I plan to eat it for another meal. I would not have bothered with the piece you showed in the pic, especially when not headed home.
    I must say having also come from the clean-your-plate upbringing, I have had to actually reprogram my brain whereby it is an accomplishment to LEAVE a bit on my plate. I can though. But I have a friend who cannot leave something on their plate.
    Your friend’s mention of starving people would get old for me.

    • Reply
      July 15, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      He didn’t mention starving people at today’s meal. I told him about this blog post, and I think he totally understands it from a different perspective now. I see his view now too, but like you, it’s a win for me when I leave some uneaten. You understand me well…

  • Reply
    July 16, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Hmm, I understand points from both sides. But I am more into cleaning my plate. Even if I won’t be eating the food I wasn’t able to finish on a restaurant (like your situation where you will meet a client at dinner), I still have those leftovers packed in a box. In a way I felt guilty about wasting foods while a lot of people get hungry. So instead I helped them. Whenever I pass by a street and I stumbled with people who didn’t have anything to eat, I give it to them. In this way not only my food was not wasted, but I helped some people to be full too 🙂

    • Reply
      July 16, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      That is such a stellar idea, Roxanne. I hadn’t considered that option, but it’s a good one. I could actually set it aside first, so they can have food that has been relatively untouched too.

      I’ll try that next time I’m out.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    Once upon a time, I practically licked my plate clean at every meal; mostly because I scarfed my food down so fast I didn’t notice whether I was full, and especially if it was a “special” meal, or I paid actual money for it. Growing up, we always cleaned our plates, and my dad definitely made me sit at the table until my plate was clean on more than one occasion. I always hated the starving people analogies; you’re right, stuffing ourselves to the gills isn’t going to help anyone!

    These days, I have no problem throwing food away at a restaurant; if it’s something that will reheat well and I’m planning to be home soon, I’ll take it home. When I cook at home, I save all the leftovers! Since we’re so busy, I usually try to cook meals that will last for several days and I’ll eat the leftovers for lunch, or for dinner again later in the week. has some great ones! I’ve gotten so much better at eating slowly and listening to my hunger signals, it’s much easier to just stop eating and put my fork down when I’m full.

  • Reply
    July 22, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    I have to say yes to this question. My family’s sort of been the kind that doesn’t like to waste food because growing up and not having much sort of makes you think twice about leaving leftovers on your plate to be thrown out. But you know what I do to help combat that? Over the past few years, when I started watching my weight more, I would eat just enough until I was full and not try to finish it all in one sitting. Granted that I eat mostly healthy food now, I doubt that eating too much salad and non fried foods will hurt me too much. But it’s the mentality that I’m fighting against; not so much the food. I eat until I’m comfortably full and I wrap up the rest and save it for the following meal (usually the next day for lunch). But like how you were presented with the question that your friend asked you Kenlie, I also keep in mind about how there are so many people out there that have no food to eat at all. So I made a rule that unless it smells bad or is rotten, I never throw food out.
    Great discussion!

  • Reply
    July 24, 2015 at 8:50 am

    What a perfect comeback to that question!! I am filing that away and can’t wait to use it!

  • Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: