Another Type of Food Waste


Food waste is something I’ve discussed on the blog before, but a new finding has me thinking of a different kind of a “waste” of food. A new research paper has determined that approximately 20% of all food produced worldwide is lost. This comes not only from the traditional way we think of food waste and how I’ve discussed it previously, but 10% of that can be attributed to overeating.

When I was at the Buddhist monastery, one of the things that struck me most was how mindful the residents were with each grain of rice that crossed their paths – the thinking here was that by taking more than you need, you’re ultimately taking away from someone else.

As a trained chef, I have a deep appreciation for delicious foods. Like super deep. But reading this research paper definitely caught my attention and reminded me that taking more than I actually need (especially on a regular basis!) is contributing to this other sort of food “waste.” In fact, based on this paper’s findings, we overeat at least as much food as we throw out – which is a ton.

One of the tools, I’m trying to use more is the hunger scale to help me tune in and make more mindful portion decisions.

Here it is!

Hunger Scale

1. Starving

2. Uncomfortably hungry

3. Very hungry

4. A little hungry

5. Not hungry or full

6. Satisfied and light

7. Comfortable, but a little too full

8. Very full

9. Uncomfortably full

10. Thanksgiving dinner full

The goal of the hunger scale is to take a second to check in and notice how hungry you actually are before eating or overeating. Ultimately, we want to stay between a 3 and a 6 and avoid extremes on either end of the scale.

I’m finding staying within this range to be tricky, but am considering it a fun challenge. Not only do I know that it’s better for my health to stay within this range, but this insight adds a new dimension to the practice making me want to commit to it even more.

Here is the paper if you’re interesting in checking it out!