When I was a young child, I thought rice I left on my plate at mealtime cried to God while I was asleep. Iiyak ang kanin. Maybe this was one of those things people said to discourage children from wasting their food. This one was easy to outgrow.
Other statements about not wasting food, however, were ingrained in my consciousness, such as the simple statement, Huwag mag-aksaya, meaning, waste not. You've heard them said:
Waste not, want not.
Think of all the poor children in (some poor country or area).
That is hard-earned money.
So from a young age I knew it was wrong to waste food. The problem was, I often misjudged my appetite or how much my small tummy could hold. In order to assuage my guilt if I had leftovers, especially at parties where I'd load up my plate with special dishes, I would give them to my father or mother--eapecially my father--to finish. More often than not, he'd take them.
When we had children, Mr. Blossoms and I began instilling in them this waste-not mentality as soon as they learned to feed themselves. "Finish your food." At that time, I still hadn't read that forcing children to clean their plates can lead to obesity. Fortunately, none of our boys have any problem with being overweight. Now I try to say, "Get only what you can finish." But occasionally I default back to saying Finish your food.
Like me when I was growing up, they would offer their leftovers to me or their dad. I would usually take them. I would even eat, without them asking, what was left their on their plates after I have had my fill. Sayang.
One day, we met a missionary couple who came back from serving in South America. They related how people at their head office noticed that they were gaining weight. By the wife's narration, it seemed that being missionaries, and especially coming from the Philippines, they had the habit of eating their children's leftovers. They could not let food go to waste.
"Let it go to waste than to your waist," their supervisor, or whoever it was they reported to, advised. As missionaries, they needed to be healthy and not dealing with all sorts of ailments that come with being overweight.
I wonder how much of my waist or my hips right now was a result of "guilt". I'll call this guilt fat, accummulated through years of chowing down my children's leftovers while they were growing up. Ang daming walang makain. Many people are starving. As if I could help their plight by eating on their behalf.
I have become a bit wiser now. I refuse to eat what my children can't, unless I was really planning to have the same serving anyway. I am learning to say no. No to leftover food on someone else's plate!
"But I want to get dessert," Markus told me at a church potluck party last week as he tried to get me to get his half-full plate.
"No, Markus, I don't want to get fat. Just throw it in the trash," I replied.
That sounds shameless, doesn't it? I really prefer that food be not wasted. I feel bad when it is. But if the choice is between wasting and waist-ing, I think I know the lesser evil to choose.