Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Can Being Nice Make You Fat and Sick?

May 17th, 2012 · 43 Comments · Avoiding Waste

What would you do if you received this:

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That was full of this:

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(Note especially that “hyd-” word…)

And then you noticed this:

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And it was from your lovely, well-meaning, doting, octogenarian grandmother, who loves to give to her grandkids and great-grands:

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Well.

I left it sitting on the counter for a week, feeling both guilty and tempted every time I looked at it.

Which was a lot, if you know how much time I spend in the kitchen.

(I’m a former white chocolate junkie, by the way.)

Intervention

Luckily for me and my willpower, a good friend visited after one week of countertop torture. (The same friend, coincidentally, who created the cool Farmer’s Market Bingo sheet I shared over at Simple Homemade this week.)

I explained the dilemma, how I wanted to just chuck it every time I looked at it, but I felt obligated to…be nice, I guess. And frugal. And not waste! Plus, I knew if I opened it, I would cruise through the kitchen and pick at it until it was gone (not all in one day, mind you, but I’d get through it).

Her solution? An 8-step program for white chocoholics anonymous:

  1. Wait until the kids go to bed.
  2. Open the box.
  3. Open a bottle of wine.
  4. Slice one small piece off for each adult in the house.
    DSC04447 (475x356)
    We were surprised it was filled with cashews, like a rattle or maraca!
  5. Give it a taste all together.
  6. Put a check in the “obligation” mental box.
  7. Do this:
    DSC04453 (475x356)
  8. Drink the wine.

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What’s the lesson here?

First, just because someone gives you something to eat, or just because you’re in a social situation with tempting junk food or non-food dressed up like food, you don’t have to partake.

You can enjoy a social situation with just a taste, or by just enjoying conversation. Food doesn’t always have to be the center.

Get creative with your social food.

And finally, find good friends/spouses/family members to stand by you and make sure you throw the egg away–I mean, to support you in your quest for real food, whether your goal is weight loss or general health. Because as my sage friend stated, what that thing would do to my body isn’t worth $22.

And just maybe, if you haven’t maxed out your food intake/calories/fun foods for the day…have a glass of wine with a friend or a good book.

Then put a $22 box of sugar and trans fat to good use and write a post about it. Winking smile

How do you deal with the temptations of social or other obligatory-feeling junk food consumption?

Follow the real food weight loss and exercise series this week and next…

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43 Comments so far ↓

  • Pam@behealthybehappywellness

    Love this – I feel that guilt too. I think your solution is perfect. If you give in and eat the whole thing, you’ll just end up feeling icky – not worth it. Besides, it’s the thought that counts, and you can appreciate the gift without hurting your health.

  • Peggy

    I feel no obligation whatsoever unless grandma is in the room with us. Whenever we get our Annual boxes of Peeps, M&Ms, circus peanuts, Halloween candy, Christmas candy and birthday candy, Mom and Dad open it in the bedroom alone. If there are any trinkets, we let the kids have those. The non-food goes in the trash where it won’t hurt anyone.

  • Diana

    Good job with the self-control.

    Another idea would have been to’repurpose’ it. This could have been made into white chocolate chip & cashew cookies to take to church or a potluck. As much as I would love to feed everyone healthy food, when it comes to large gatherings, I can’t afford to bring the same foid I have @home. It would have broken the unhealthy-ness into compromisable sizes for other people who don’t care as much. :)

    Marilyn Reply:

    I so agree with you Diana! When I am preparing food for a large group I go to the stuff they are used to. Especially at family gatherings where I know most of the kids waste their food. If I would use my real food and see it go into the trash, I think I would cry! When the other stuff hits the garbage, I am (almost) delighted. (Except I know they are really getting nothing. sigh!)

    Dawn Reply:

    Diana,
    What an excellent idea! I try to use the same standards for potlucks and stuff as I use at home, but you are right, sometimes in the interest of frugality, you just can’t. This would solve multiple issues and allow Katie a *small* taste! :)

  • Johanna S.

    If the gift giver is standing in front of me, I might take a small bite or let my child take one. But then it would be discreetly put away in order to be thrown away when the giver is gone. I am very selective about what my child eats but I believe that people are more important than food.

    I had a similar experience. It wasn’t a gift but a treat at my daughter’s preschool. When no one was looking, I removed the “snowball” of nastiness on her plate and left it near the teacher’s desk. I compromised at letting her have the pretzel sticks, etc. but I just could not bend on that one. Yuck.

  • Lorelei

    Eat the cashews and toss disgusting white “chocolate”.

  • Deb

    If it’s a gift like that I might eat a few little bites and chuck the rest. I know how crappy I’ll feel if I eat much of that kind of thing!
    In a social setting I have a harder time. I try to keep a glass of water in my hand at all times, then just eat a few bites of whatever is served. It’s hard to sit there and not eat when everyone else is chowing down. So I try to drink a lot of water so I look busy:)

    åslaug Reply:

    Haha ;) I do that too!

  • Evie

    I can relate to this, because I HATE to throw food out, and to see money wasted. What I want to know is if you saved the cashews from inside and put them to good use… that would be a redeeming use for this egg!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Evie,
    I did keep them around for a while, but I didn’t like them (and I love cashews)! I think they were too moist from being in the egg or something. Ultimately, they hit the trash b/c I was just eating them because they were “there” and not even enjoying them. I turned to crispy almonds instead. :) Katie

  • Alexis

    This just happened to me the other day. My husband brought me home a milkshake the other night as a treat. I’ve been trying to cut out sugar, but felt bad because he was trying to be sweet. I took a few sips and threw it away. I felt better when he told me he only got it because it was half off after 8pm. We talked about my goals for sugar, and he is supportive. I was a huge sugar addict, so understandably it is going to take some time for both of us to change the way we give “treats” to each other, and our family as well.

  • Kathryn

    I have to admit, looking at that ingredient list surprised me. Because it was short. Someone gave me an enormous BD cupcake a couple of years ago and the ingredient list was LONG. It included enriched white flour and partially hydrogenated soybean and cotton seed oils and artificial colors and emulsifiers and propylene glycol and parabens. I don’t use those last 2 items on my skin – why would i eat them?!?

    Fortunately for me, i need to eat gluten free. The person had forgotten this, so i didn’t have to make any excuses.

    Frankly, i would feel guilty repurposing something with such horrible ingredients.

    My current pet peeve is when i look up a recipe (i bought a local cook book yesterday) and it starts with “Take a Yellow Cake Mix”! People have forgotten how to cook real food.

  • Tammy

    I was in California a few weeks before Easter and I got my dd some “healthier” candy from Whole Foods. It had natural food coloring and just plain sugar. So I didn’t think that it was healthy per se, just way better than everything else that would come her way. My dd did get candy from other sources and that ended up going in the trash after she forgot about it (but it was cheap candy so I didn’t have any second thoughts about it!)

  • Sara

    The money wasted as it was handed over in exchange for this candy. Whether you eat it or not doesn’t really make a difference. As far as throwing food away, it wasn’t really food.

    Kathryn Reply:

    Oh, excellent points! :)

    Amy Reply:

    Excellent point! I’m actually going to cut and paste your comment somewhere where I will see it often. Family gatherings are really hard for me.

  • sarah

    Clearly, the well-meaning, doting, octogenarian grandmother isn’t reading this post!

  • Mary C.

    Omg, I deal with this senario several times a week. My situation is a bit different from most of your readers – I’m a single person living with my parents.
    The past year and a half I have been working at eating a healthier diet and using non-synthetic products. I do pretty well on the personal and cleaning products (in my area of the house), and with breakfast and lunch. Trouble comes with dinner and snacks – we try to have family dinners which mom mostly prepares and she also usually has several kinds of baked goods on hand for desert and snacks. It’s hard to avoid bakery items with over 30 ingredients (I counted!) when they have chocolate and are there to greet you every time you walk past the kitchen counter. The hardest thing is that even after trying to explain what foods I want to avoid and why my mom still doesn’t really ‘get it’ and prepares whatever she feels when it’s her turn to cook.

  • Susan Alexander

    For me – if I thought I’d actually LIKE it, I’d probably eat it. That one – I probably wouldn’t like – I’ve never cared for white chocolate and cashews seem to be too rich for me these days… I like the idea of re-purposing into a recipe to feed other people. ;)

  • Stacy Makes Cents

    I’m just sitting here in shock knowing that someone paid that much for A CHOCOLATE EGG!
    *Fainting*

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Dude. I know. I’m hoping it was on after-Easter sale, as this was a week or two after the holiday…
    :) Katie

  • Margot C

    I don’t know. I might have frozen the rest (except the nuts which I would put in a bowl) and used it to make a dribble icing or something at a much later date.

    OTH, you would probably call me fat.

  • elizabethe

    This exact thing happened to me, except my ginormous easter egg thing was chocolate with peanut butter truffle filling. YUM! However, I had no compunction whatsoever about throwing it away the instant we were alone.

    As for this “don’t waste food” issue; it must be addressed.

    You have to change your mindset on this. In the case of extra food, that you don’t need nutritionally or will harm you if you eat it, it’s not your responsibility to not “waste” the food. The raw materials that created that food or “food” item have already been wasted.

    By the time it gets to you, it’s just a matter of where you are going to throw it away — into your body or in the trash can. If you are not hungry and don’t need the nutrients in that food item, or worse, if the things in that item are going to harm you, you are “wasting” it by eating it just as much (if not more so) as if you threw it away.

    Your body is not a trash can. Don’t ever eat something because “you don’t want to waste it.” It’s already wasted; there’s nothing you can do about it except pick its ultimate location — in your body where it will harm you, or in the trash where it won’t.

    Alana Dalene Reply:

    “Your body is not a trash can.” Great advice! :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Elizabeth,
    You may see this quoted in a post next week! ;) Good, good advice…Thanks!
    :) Katie

  • Lacey @ KV Organics

    I can so relate to this post, thanks. Just this week, we’re trying, as a family, to go cold turkey from sugar for at least 10 days (which I understand is the minimum period needed to break sugar’s hold on you). I confess to using a bit of reward/based bribery with my kids (a prize if they make it the whole 10 days), but they also understand the underlying reasons. :) Anyways, the bit I really wanted to share was this… I picked my daughter up from a play date this afternoon, and her friend’s mom asked me about the no sugar thing. Said she was so impressed when she offered my daughter ice cream and heard: “Is there sugar in it? … No thank you.” I was so inspired by my little girl’s ability to say no – yet another way in which I can learn from her. :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Way to go, your daughter! I’m super impressed. :) Katie

  • Deby Lake

    LOL! I live in Gaylord, and do NOT frequent Alpine Chocolate Haus. Although I did before I starting eating right. They had the best chocolate covered potato chips.
    I do get gifts that I cannot use from body products to foods. They givers either are not paying attention to my way of life or or choose to not listen to my way of life.
    I accept it, then either give it away or toss it.

  • Frugal Jen |Frugal Freebies and Deal

    someone a long time ago said a phrase that has stayed with me.. “don’t be the garbage can”.. I love it and think it all the time.

  • Amy

    GREAT post Katie!

  • kathy

    My grandma likes to get a “good deal” and usually it’s on junk food – cookies, candy, donuts, chips and likes to share all of it with us. When we visit, I let my kids eat a little of the treats. It gives my grandma great joy to feed us and see the kids happy eating sweets. She likes to send us home with treats as well. I take them, say thank you and then throw it out when we get home. Usually after the kids are asleep, so they don’t see the sweets.

    My mom on the other hand, likes to buy “treats” ALL THE TIME for us. She knows that we don’t eat much junk food at all. I don’t think that treats are treats unless they’re actually treats – few and far between. I do the same thing as with my grandma – I say thank you and throw away almost everything when I get home.

    I know it’s a waste of food and money. At first I felt a little guilty, but then I realized that neither of them ask me about the food when we visit or talk on the phone. They’re both just happy to give us sweets and treats.

  • Kirsten

    On the issue of repurposing…I have gone back and forth on this for years and have finally come to the conclusion to avoid feeding artificial “garbage” food to anyone, no matter what. God instructs us to put others first…how can I be obedient to that if I am feeding something to someone that I wouldn’t eat myself because it is so unhealthy? Instead I have chosen to use opportunities such as potlucks or family gatherings, to show others how wonderfully delicious and satisfying real food can be!

  • Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    Of course I KNOW this. But, just ONE little bit. And then there’s two and three and pretty soon the damage has been done.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Susan

    I can relate to this situation. My mother-in-law loves to send packages full of junk (“food” and cheap plastic toys) to us for every holiday imaginable. I’ve asked my husband to find a tactful way to get her to stop, to no avail.
    My kids, ages 6 and 4, love receiving packages from Grandma, but they know better than to expect to receive the junk food. When the Valentines box arrived this year, I let the kids open it with me, and then I explained that everything in it was junk. They agreed that it was bad for them, and helped me throw it all away without a second thought. When the Easter box arrived, my daughter (the six year old) asked me “Why does Grandma keep sending us junk?”
    I had a hard time not laughing at her question…I told her that I didn’t know, that was a question for Grandma. My husband wasn’t home for the Valentines box, but he was home for the Easter box, so he ended up keeping most of the junk food for himself. I had some of it, and immediately regretted it. It’s interesting to me that my kids have an easier time throwing away the junk than my husband does. Then again, he grew up eating that kind of stuff every day. Our kids rarely eat sweet stuff, so they aren’t addicted to it like my husband and I are. We have been working on changing our diet to a more healthy, traditional diet for the past year, but there have definitely been bumps in the road. My MIL doesn’t help matters any when she continues to insist on sending expensive junk every month or two.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Susan,
    I’m just smiling and shaking my head in empathy all the way through your comment…what is going to happen when your daughter actually asks Gma about sending “junk” – I can’t wait to hear! ;) Katie

    Susan Reply:

    I’m not sure that my daughter remembered to ask about that box by the time she talked to Grandma again, but I’m sure the topic has probably come up in the past week. My husband and kids went to visit Grandma and the rest of the family a week ago. I had to stay behind to take care of our animals (we live in AK, Grandma lives in AZ).

    I asked my husband to make sure the kids didn’t eat too much junk, but it’s hard to do that at Grandma’s house. He said he finally put his foot down a couple of days ago, but our kids have been sick almost since day one because of all of the junk food and the extreme heat. They hadn’t been sick in almost a year and a half, so I’m frustrated by the fact that they are now, and that Grandma is clueless about why. Last night she tried to give them peppermint candies to sooth their sore throats…as they were on their way to dinner. I couldn’t believe it when my husband told me that. Sugar makes sore throats worse!

    Even if my daughter does (or already has) ask Grandma about the junk, it would go straight over her head. We have been trying for years to tell her that we don’t want our kids to have a lot of sugar. I tried to keep our daughter from having any sugar before she turned 1 (she was a preemie with life-threatening complications), but my MIL insisted on throwing a big birthday/going away party (we moved from AZ to AK 10 days before our daughter’s first birthday) and gave our daughter a big piece of cheesecake. When we asked her not to, she blew off our concerns, claiming we were too overprotective and that every baby needs a cake for their first birthday.

    She hasn’t been hearing us for the past 6 1/2 years. Sadly, I doubt she’ll hear her granddaughter either.

  • Condo Blues

    I’d accept and enjoy the gift in extreme moderation over a period of months in the spirit in which it is given. If I waste any type of food, I’m sure I will be haunted by dead relatives.

    From the price tag of the candy it looks like the grandmother may have thought she was buying “the good stuff” as a treat. My mother did that with us last Easter too. I couldn’t eat it because of my lactose intolerance . She thinks it’s me being picky instead of a real issue but that’s a story for a different day.

    We live by the 80/20 rule (which is more like 90/10) so our heads don’t explode over issues of people not understanding what is and is not food. If I can real food it 80% of the time (generally more), I’m not going to worry about the 20% I can’t/it’s out of my control. It also allows us to accept dinner and party invitations and enjoy the company rather than freak out about the stuff on the menu.

    Erin Reply:

    I read a blog a few years ago on a related topic. She is a Christian mother who feeds her family real food. The question was: are we putting food above relationships? She had seen people hurt when their potluck offering or even what they served company was rejected by friends because it’s not real food: hot dogs, bars, etc.

    Since then we have gone through a dire time financially when just feeding my family any food at all was challenging, let alone the times I had to bring something for a pot luck. At that time bringing food for others was truly a splurge, even just a meat and bean dish. We had meals at home where everyone got one potato, a dab of butter and half a glass of milk. To have a parent tell their child to throw away what I had brought because it wasn’t up to their standards would have hurt me deeply.

    I like your 80/20 rule because we can still enjoy fellowship with others and know that the compromise won’t damage us too much.

    As far as food given as a gift and we have it alone in the house, I often sneak it into the garbage when the kids are sleeping and my husband is out…he would panic if he knew I was throwing away “food”.

    I would like to know how all the previous posters keep their children from telling Grandma that Mom threw her “treats” away! Both my MIL and Mother would NOT be happy if they knew what I did! Also, because I have made a big deal about what I do and do not want my children to eat, I think my mother gives them even more junk food while they are staying there!

  • Rebecca

    I just eat a little bit of what is offered to me, going heavy on the healthier stuff and light on the things that don’t agree with me, or “junk”. Unless it’s someone I know very well, that wouldn’t be hurt by my refusing dessert, I just have a small piece.

    I am learning that love for others and sensitivity to them is more important to me than eating only the things that I approve of!

    Our earthly bodies only last as long as God wants them to, no matter what we put into them. Where as, our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ will go on for all eternity. (Doesn’t mean we should eat badly–we should be good stewards and all that…)

  • Randa

    Hi there! Enjoyed this, and can relate!

    Melissa Joulwain wrote an article about this that I found helpful (though I wouldn’t use as colorful of language myself :): http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/2011/07/14/paleo-social-butterfly/

  • Tonya

    considering the alpine chocolat haus is a small business that makes their confections in house, i am curious how that ingredient list compares to the ingredients list of an “acceptable” chocolate treat.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Tonya,
    You know, it was honestly just that “hydrogenated” stuck out to me on my initial skim of the ingredients, and I’ve really been convicted lately that I should cut that out when at all possible – I mean, I go to pretty great lengths to eat real food, and trans fats are about as nasty as you can get. It disgusts me that they ever pass my family’s lips, yet I KNOW they do in many sneaky places. When I was looking at the pictures for the post, I realized that the hydrogenated oils were WAY down and probably miniscule, but what was done, was done. Eh. It still wasn’t good for me in any way shape or form!
    :) Katie

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I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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