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Wasted food due to guest taking too much -- any solutions?


So here's my situation. My husband and I get together with a group of friends every other Sunday and most of the time, I provide at least some of the food. We and another member of our group are part of a meat-based CSA so a lot of times, we will combine one of our shares for me to make something that will feed a crowd of 8. For example, last time we got together, our friend and I each had a share of brisket that we combined and I made BBQ brisket sandwiches, homemade baked beans, and corn on the cob. Other times with appropriate cuts of meat, I have done stew with homemade bread. Sometimes we grill out, especially if we have sausage, and I'll do veggie kebabs and rice on the side. etc. The meals are very casual and relaxed, serve yourself style.

Another member of our group is a woman who, earlier this year, had surgery to alter her stomach. She had a gastric sleeve put in place, which is supposed to reduce how much she eats. Here's my conundrum. She still tends to take rather large portion sizes, nearly as large as the rest of our group (who, besides her and me, are all guys with very big appetites), eats maybe half of it (at most) and can't finish the rest. If I'm lucky, her husband will finish her plate for her, but sometimes by the time she has decided she is done, he has already gone back for seconds on his own and he doesn't want any more, so her plate will sit and the rest of her food gets tossed at the end of the day. Wasted food, especially food that I have put the time and effort into preparing, is at best an annoyance of mine, and is quickly growing into more than that. If it was something that happened a few times right after her surgery, I could understand as she was learning the limitations of her intake. However, it has now been several months since her surgery, and she consistently makes comments like, "Well I'm sure my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I won't be able to eat all this, but that's okay." and I just want to tell her "Actually, it's NOT okay."

I don't think it's a matter of her not appreciating how a home cooked meal is made. She frequently watches me in the kitchen and often offers to help. I know she does some amount of cooking herself. She, and the rest of the people in the group, always look forward to the meals, partly because they all work fulltime jobs and don't always have a chance to cook home cooked meals for themselves (a lot of them just don't have a lot of cooking knowledge, either.) I work from home, and a lot of dietary restrictions (lots of allergies, severe lactose intolerance, and a chronic stomach disease) have forced me to learn to be a pretty good cook and I cook about 95% of the food that me and my husband eat (not that I mind, even before my slew of dietary restrictions I liked cooking, for myself and for others.) I like to make food for people and I like it when the food I make, makes other people happy. When everyone leaves at the end of the day, I always get a lot of "thank yous" and "the food was great" and "we really appreciate the meal" from everyone. Everyone's plate is always empty...except for her's.

So, is there any good way to approach this? Should I just not let it bother me? Would it be really rude of me to ask her to take smaller portions, and that she can always go back for seconds if she does want more afterword?

  1. First of all, I think you and your friends have a nice schedule of dinners--nice idea! And it's clear you are a thoughtful cook and host.

    I wouldn't tell her to *not* go back for seconds/take smaller portions.

    I wonder if her taking too much might be a psychological thing...a reinforcement that the "new" her eats less. She may know the correct portion size for her, but still like visual proof of her satiety. I don't know---just speculating.

    To have a gastric sleeve means she likely had health-threatening issues with food. I say don't pick at it, even though you are right to be concerned with the waste. Would she/husband accept a "take-home" container of the food? It sounds like your cooking would be just as good the next day.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pinehurst

      I couldn't have said it better. She is undoing years of habit in estimating portion size and resultant effects on her satiety. It apparently got out of control and medical intervention was needed.
      She'll learn eventually. For now, she needs encouragement and compliments on her progress.

    2. It probably wouldn't bother me but since it does you--have you asked if she would like to take her leftovers home? That may be snarky but it's not as rude as asking her to take smaller portions. You would tell a child to take a smaller portion, not an adult who is, presumably, your friend.

      2 Replies
      1. re: gourmanda

        this is a good idea -- then at least they'll get eaten and not dumped in the garbage.

        1. re: gourmanda

          This was my thought as well. It would potentially avoid waste and might provide a way to at least express your frustration over the issue.

          It definitely can fall in the snarky/passive aggressive camp - but I don't think it has to. It may also kindly indicate to her how much she's misreading the portion size.

        2. Telling someone who has had this kind of surgery to take smaller portions....is probably not that nice to do to a guest in your home.

          I'd either ask if she wants to wrap up what she doesn't eat or just let it go.

          1. If all your guests really enjoyed the food, yet left 1/4 cup of whatever on the plate, it would also go to the trash bin, as waste. In this case, one person's uneaten food takes that place.

            If she's a good friend, that friendship is worth more than a comment on how she serves herself. As pinehurst indicated, she's still dealing with her personal issues around food. The surgery didn't resolve those, and she'll need time to work those through.

            And as others indicated, there's always the offer to take home the food she didn't finish.

            4 Replies
            1. re: mcsheridan

              <there's always the offer to take home the food she didn't finish>

              I wouldn't do that with my friends or family members….why would this be any different? To ask them, when they were finished with their meal, if they'd like to take the leftovers? Really?

              1. re: latindancer

                if you were to ask *everyone* it wouldn't be weird...but to ask just one person, yes, definitely wrong.

                (at my big dinners, I always buy a package of foil takeaway containers from the local Asian grocery -- somebody always wants to take something home, and there's far too much for us to keep, so everyone knows to take whatever you want to take.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  In the case of the OP there's 'intention' involved, an agenda.
                  In the case where I'm telling my guests there're are containers available if anyone wants to take food home there's no intention involved.

                  1. re: latindancer

                    exactly...we're on the same page.

            2. If she's a true friend you should be able to tell her not to take so much.

              6 Replies
              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                I can't imagine telling an adult how big a portion they should take.
                That's not a friend, it's a parent.

                1. re: monavano

                  and a controlling, micro-managing, parent at that

                  1. re: monavano

                    I reconsidered. You guys are right.

                    It would probably aggravate me somewhat though if somebody continually took too much. I do plated dinners >90% of the time though so I'd never really worry about this.

                    I'm also young and fairly frank with my small close-knit group of friends I invite for dinners. I suppose it might be different if everyone was like 40+ and whatnot though.

                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                      As I get older, I realize more and more that discretion is truly the better part of valor and to think carefully before I say something I *think* needs to be said.
                      In the big scheme of life, the amount of food that this guest "wastes" doesn't really mean a hill of beans.
                      Plus, this person is within a year of major, life-changing surgery, so patience here is a bigger virtue.
                      Not making sure no food goes uneaten.

                      1. re: monavano

                        Agreed, honestly, I tend to agree with those in older generations on issues like this anyway. You're right, surgery like that is probably a big deal both physically and mentally.
                        Guess if the "wasting food," is what aggravates me there are plenty of other bigger fish to fry with regard to that, instead of the small portion one person does or does not eat.

                        Had a friend over for dinner the other day. She didn't finish some charred padron peppers on her plate and when I was clearing the plates later I ate them, delicious. Problem solved.

                2. I like the idea of asking if she'd like to take her leftovers with her. Not sure why I didn't think of that to begin with. It would make me feel better to know they are not being wasted and would probably be enough for her to take for lunch. I think she ends up dumping her leftovers in the trash before I really notice so I will just have to be mindful to ask before she does so. I'm pretty sure she would not be offended by it, I know her well enough to know she wouldn't take it that way. Thanks for the suggestion!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Maggiethecat

                    I like the "take the leftovers" ideas, too, but another option could be to pre-slice/pre-portion the food, thus indicating what the portions are.

                    1. re: Maggiethecat

                      Maggiethecat: the reason you probably didn't think about that is that to single out one guest to whom to make the offer, and that one particular guest has had some MAJOR food issues, and the food issues that that ONE particular guest has had are so major that they required SURGERY, is not necessarily a kind thing to do.

                    2. I am with the camp that say a few months is too soon to start critiquing what she eats. My sister had gastric by pass surgery and even year later she was dealing with the psychological aftermath. Just because her stomach/appetite was "fixed" doesn't mean her mind had been. Often people who have these types of surgeries end up trading one addiction for another if they haven't dealt with the "why" they over ate.

                      If this is seriously bothering you, to the point it's impacting how you relate to her and/or how you have these parties I think the best thing you could do is change the dynamic. Ie:

                      *Instead of "serve yourself" you could assign servers so no one takes too much
                      *Only put out a portion of the food. People take less if there is less to take and tend to take more when there looks likes a lot. Refill the servings platters as needed
                      *a group meeting and talk about budgets and not wanting to waste food

                      However ultimately I think you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why this is bothering you so much. Her eating more or less doesn't change the work involved in making a home cooked meal. It doesn't change the clean up involved. Nor does it change how much all the others praise and thank you or change the fact they "clean their plates". All of that remains whether she finishes her meal or not. You are talking about a 1/2 portion of food across what sounds to be 8 very generous sized portions so while wasteful in a sense in the grand scheme of thing its hasn't changed your way of cooking and if she suddenly stated eating only "her fair share" would you end up leftovers? Or would others go back for thirds? Meaning that all along you really never had enough to begin with?

                      It sounds to me like there are bigger issues involved (they all work full time while you work from home, you deal with your food restrictions, why can't she? etc). I think once you figure out exactly why this is bothering you might be able to discuss it with your husband and another close friend in group (if you haven't already) and then figure how to approach the rest.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: foodieX2

                          during the time I spent being responsible for planning the catering at office events, I found the comment "*Only put out a portion of the food. People take less if there is less to take and tend to take more when there looks likes a lot." to be a quite effective tactic. well until people caught on to me anyway... but it still worked to a degree. the ones with little impulse control did hold back somewhat. I had it staged so fresh trays were under the draped table on shelves or just in the next room.

                          only once did a comment have to be made when a guy started digging into a lunch (and being messy) before the guest of honor arrived (an influential critic/journalist whose opinion we were trying to change no less!) he was shamed and rightfully so, but that's a different context than a guest.

                        2. Here's my 2¢...you're making enough to feed 8 people apparently with enough for seconds. That means each share is 1/16. She gets one share and eats half. The remaining half is 1/32. Would I tell a friend to take less food (even without the bariatric surgery issue) because they were throwing away 1/32 of a meal I made? Nope.

                          I also agree with the suggestion to not put everything out all at once. Or do and save a plate for yourself for leftovers the next day.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Hobbert

                            Not putting out everything so you have leftovers is a good idea and I'm going to copy it. We have family members who, when they visit, will eat their way through whatever is put out. Big portions. Then seconds. And thirds.

                          2. Why not offer to fix her plate when she comes for dinner? You can put the amount on her plate you think she might eat and then if she goes through that then still wants more, she can help herself to seconds.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: Cherylptw

                              sorry, if I were the only one who received a plated meal, the message would be loud and clear that I can't control myself and I deserve to be treated like a child.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                I never said the OP should automatically do it; that could make someone feel a certain kind of way. But I don't see anything wrong with offering to fix someone's plate, as a matter of fact, the OP should offer to fix everyone's plate so this woman don't feel singled out.

                                If you would feel like a child because a host offers to make your plate, then that's some deep going back to a long time ago issues you should deal with.

                                No one here wants to deal with the problem, they want to "let it go" for fear of hurting the woman's feelings. I get it that she's recovering mentally but not everyone has money to throw in the trash and I think it's disrespectful for everyone to assume it's okay to toss someone else's money. As a matter of fact, the woman in question should get some therapy because if she were the OP's real friend, she wouldn't be wasting her groceries. As high as food costs are these days? How long should a host accept it? Three months? Six? Two years?? Give me a break!

                                I'd say something to the woman after a certain amount of time or stop inviting her to every dinner. Say what you want, that's my opinion.

                                1. re: Cherylptw

                                  If the host plates all the food (which is crazy - these are adults) then it's no big deal.

                                  Singling one person out sends the unmistakable message that they are incapable of filling their own plate and needs to be treated like a child.

                                  It's not MY issues (but thanks for the unwanted and unqualified psych evaluation, there, "Doctor") it's treating a good friend like an incapable child.

                                  We don't know that she isn't getting therapy -- and unqualified outsiders don't get to decide how long is long enough. It takes the amount of time that it takes.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    If this is something that really concerns the OP, then there could be ways to negotiate this more subtly.

                                    For example, if the meat is the most expensive, then the OP could bring food to the table in a way where the meat was near the OP/far from where the Offender is sitting. Then volunteer to serve the OP and other adults sitting far from the meat, while passing other smaller platters/dishes of food, wouldn't be terribly noticeable. Also, instead of giving the Offender a wildly smaller portion - the smaller portion could be given to everyone and just let them decide later if they want a second serving or speak up as say "one kabob won't be enough for me!".

                                    Or, the OP/host could serve the meat under the guise of the table being too full, while having the other sides passed around.

                                    I do believe that this option would be rather passive aggressive and involve planning - but if the situation involved say a super sensitive family member who always did that kind of thing - I would totally understand going this route.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      We do know one thing here, you and everyone else on this thread are not qualified either so pointing out that I might not be qualified means nothing. I'll tell you what I do know, and that's if she were getting therapy, what ever professional providing it would tell the woman that being in denial is not solving the issue. And again, YOU posted that you would feel like a child, so I'm talking about you and not the woman in question as she is not the person I'm interacting with.

                                      1. re: Cherylptw

                                        when you find someone who would NOT feel as though they were being treated like a child by having their plate be the only one prepared for them, let me know.

                                        Nobody but you made a diagnosis.

                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                    I'd plate everyone's meal. Just start doing that, no explanations given. Cheerfully announce that there's more, and anyone who wants seconds should just speak up. Even if people wonder about the change, it's unlikely that anyone would be tacky enough to object or ask why.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      but everyone would absolutely notice, and then the conjecture would start as to why.

                                      Just let this poor woman heal at the pace she needs to heal.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        Exactly. I said that the host should plate everyone's meal but oh no, the posters here became offended. Of course, it would be obvious if this woman's meal were the only one plated. This ignorance here is what happens when people want to blow things out of context. But I meant what I said about allowing the woman to continue to waste food. It's one thing to overlook it for a few times but to continue to allow it to go on for months at a time, is just enabling the woman to refuse to face her problems. And again, if she were a friend, she would not feel free to throw the host's food in the trash because her "eyes are bigger than her stomach.

                                        The posters here don't have to agree with me. I'm not looking for their approval and honestly, I could care less if they agree with me. The reason the OP posted the topic is that she is tired of her food being thrown into the trash without regard to the fact that food costs money. Instead of sympathizing with her, everyone wants to baby this grown person who needs help. Not saying anything to her is not helping her. Use some common sense people. Give me a fricken break.

                                        1. re: Cherylptw

                                          Because the OP is not the one facing enormous physical and mental implications to her health.

                                          This is not a case of someone being insensitive -- this is far, far bigger than that, and it makes me sad that there are folks who think that dealing with addictions is a matter of others deciding when it's time to be healed.

                                          It just isn't, and it just never has been, and it just never will be.

                                      1. Without reading other posts, I want to share my opinion with you. Your friend has a psychological issue with food. Let it go. I'm sure it is a very personal, sensitive issue for her, hence the gastric surgery she has endured. I hate food waste, as well. I use veggie scraps to make stock. But, unless you want your friendship to suffer, find a way to let this one go.

                                        1. Ignore it. What people do with the food on their own dinner plate is not your business unless they're throwing it at you. A gracious host never comments on or appears to notice what adult guests do with their food.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            <A gracious host never comments on or appears to notice>

                                            This seems to be the main theme of this entire thread ...
                                            I can't think of one time, in my entire life's history of entertaining, where I noticed how much any of my guests were eating or how much was left on their plate…I usually have better things to do with my time and I would never consider monitoring their eating habits.
                                            The OP's the one with the problem, in my opinion, not the guest.
                                            The OP notices that 'everyone's plate is always empty not her's, and it appears to have become an obsession.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              I never comment and only notice afterwards when in a group there were few takers on something like: "well I guess the idea of a chilled aspic of borscht and jalapeno with a creme fraiche swirl wasn't so appealing... those peasants"

                                              usually I'm too self-absorbed to notice what they're up to, although that approach did bite me in the ass over a weekend house party in the country once, but that's quite a different topic.

                                          2. It would totally bother me. Sounds like. Oh, poor me. Best to wrap it up and give it to her to go.

                                            1. I concur about offering to wrap your friend's uneaten food "to go", AND to store it in your fridge until the end of the event.
                                              Most of my friends, I'd eat their uneaten food. lol.
                                              I can understand your frustration about the portion size, and remaining food. Likely, in our home, had the portion not landed on someone's plate, we'd be eating the leftovers the next day.
                                              However, I'm not very comfortable in packaging someone else's leftovers for my own, later, consumption. Definitely would offer to pack takeaway, though.

                                              1. my appetite has changed, I still eat the same amount as I always have. I just spread it out over more than several hours, imagine the disappointment looking for what has become the tossed plate of my meal. I was slow while everyone else acted like rabid wolves.

                                                I have given up on socializing during 'feed time'

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: hill food

                                                  Hey, hill, I'll sit with you and yours. I may have a couple glasses of wine while we partake, but I think we'd be good.

                                                  by the way - what's for dessert?

                                                2. She's a friend. You should be able to raise an issue which bothers you with her in friendly terms. She even gives you an opening to do so, with her "eyes bigger than stomach" sort of remarks.

                                                  That said, guests are guests and, if it was me, I wouldnt say anything, nor would it particularly bother me. In that, I don't share your concern but, otherwise, share what is obviously a good sense of hospitality on your part.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                    Some people don't care if food is wasted. Some care a bit. Some care a lot. Depends on how/when/where we were raised.
                                                    (I bet those thousands of terrified starving women and children on that mountain top in Iraq yesterday would have an opinion.)
                                                    'Waste not want not'.

                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                      >Some people don't care if food is wasted. Some care a bit. Some care a lot. Depends on how/when/where we were raised.<

                                                      So true. I came from a family with MAJOR food issues, not wasting and extreme overeating were at the top of the list.

                                                      Granted, the guest shouldn't be taking more than she can consume but isn't an overweight person, whether it is 5 or 50 pounds, eating more than they need as much as a waste of food as it going into the trash?

                                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                                        " isn't an overweight person, whether it is 5 or 50 pounds, eating more than they need as much as a waste of food as it going into the trash?"


                                                        I am obese by any usual definition (although I prefer to describe myself as "fat"). I always enjoy the food I eat and regularly eat more than I need (which is why I'm fat). If the food is thrown away rather than me eating it, then there is no pleasure involved, only waste.

                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                          I tell myself it can go to waste, or it can go to waist.

                                                          Sometimes the former is really better. I've done my time at Weight Watchers, and still can't get the weight down where I'd like it to be.
                                                          I agree that your best solution is to offer to wrap it for her. We usually send our guests home with something they particularly liked in the dinner, anyway.

                                                          1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                            I like the wrapping idea -- because then it doesn't go to waste OR waist!

                                                            But yes -- my weight has been a constant struggle, and "oh, there's only two bites left" is a huge trap for a lot of people. Those two bites add up fast!

                                                  2. How about if, when she remarks about taking so much, you say things to her along the lines of: "I really admire what you did and that you took such a big step to help yourself. It must be very hard to break some of those old habits. Would it help if I gave you a slightly smaller plate?"

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: PattiCakes

                                                      Oh no, Patticakes, that would offend people...a smaller plate would make some people feel that they are being treated like a child.... (I'm being sarcastic for a reason)

                                                      1. re: Cherylptw

                                                        I think the key to patticakes's suggestion is that she is being upfront about it and offering to support her friend's health/weight loss in a way that may not further draw the attention of other guests. On the other hand, I think the friend may feel offended or slighted if she simply handed her a smaller plate while she gave everyone else larger plates. I'm sure the friend would wonder why she was singled out for a smaller plate, just like she would wonder why she was singled out for having her food portioned out for her.

                                                        Another option could be to set out plates of multiples sizes so that the friend may choose a smaller plate on her own. Using smaller plates is a common method of trying to eat smaller portions. The friend may be aware of this and automatically choose the smaller size. We frequently have catered events at work, and it is common for people to take the side dish sized plates so not to take too large of portions.

                                                        1. re: pollymerase

                                                          like offering to wrap up the leftovers -- a very nonconfrontational, non-insulting way to handle it (and who knows -- maybe there are others who would prefer a smaller plate!)

                                                      2. re: PattiCakes

                                                        PattiCakes: what an offensive thing to say to another adult.
                                                        i'd never say anything so patronizing to anyone over the age of 8.
                                                        and i'd never single out an adult guest for any "special" concern over what they eat or don't eat.

                                                      3. I had gastric bypass many years ago, and STILL struggle with this constantly. Speaking only for myself, there can be a number of reasons why I take more than I need, and I know most are psychological. For myself when I was at my heaviest, I was always hungry, and could have easily gone back for multiple portions at every meal, but at the same time always felt the judgement of all other eyes thinking "Why is SHE going back for more, she hardly needs it..." Going back for another portion seemed like more of a failing than just taking a large amount initially. I still feel some of that judgement, imagined or not.

                                                        And for a less psychological reason, a not-uncommon side effect of bypass for some is - delicately speaking - that food may not stay down. I deal with this quite often (at least once a day)... so I often get a little more of a portion assuming I may be eating twice just to eat once. Call it laziness! But I always figure what I don't eat I will just save as leftovers and eat the next day. In that situation, I would LOVE the offer to take it to go if it was a genuinely thoughtful offer, and not passive-aggressive snarkiness.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Michele72

                                                          Thank you for sharing your perspective. It is most valued.

                                                          1. re: Michele72

                                                            Thank you so much for your insight. I appreciate it because my sister went through this too, and she never clued us in about what you're talking about. Thank you.

                                                          2. What would you do if someone else in the group always took more than they ate?

                                                            1. My mother told me over and over to mind my own knitting, and it's been words to live by, well - when I manage to do it. I think that friendship often is supported by keeping your mouth shut and instead loving your friend for their stellar points and forgiving the others. They get plenty of correction from the cold world, and don't need it from you. I would not let it bother you.

                                                              1. <Should I just not let it bother me?>

                                                                It's bothering you. Plain and simple and big time. You're expecting immediate results (your issue?). You say she's your friend but you don't like the fact she's taking your food and wasting it. Is it really worth the inevitable insult by bringing it to her attention and humiliating her?
                                                                Only you know the answer to that.
                                                                If it were I and my true friend had this problem I'd figure out a way to simply understand she may have some behavioral issues with food, based on her history, and give it some time to see how it all plays out. Then go from there.

                                                                27 Replies
                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                  The wasted food pales in comparison to the potential harm of singling this woman out.
                                                                  She's got enough to deal with, and I can not imagine making oblique comments about the amount of food she takes, or heaven forbid, making a plate for her.
                                                                  I even think that squirreling some of the food away could be obvious, especially given it's not been your practice.
                                                                  Why hold back suddenly?

                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                    In my experience people who go through food issues, whether it be eating disorders or post surgical for eating issues, would be horrified, ashamed and humiliated, if someone brought attention to what they're eating then tried to alter what they're eating. It displays a complete misunderstanding of what they're going through 24/7 with food.
                                                                    The last thing a person like this needs is someone watching them and being irritated with them because a plate of food was wasted.
                                                                    Especially a 'friend'.

                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                      Yes, the potential for harm is too great to risk, even though it might not seem like such a big deal to the OP- a little comment here, a dig there, withholding food, making a plate.
                                                                      A person who is obese enough to undergo surgery probably has a lifetime of feeling singled out.

                                                                      What I didn't glean from the OP's story is any sense of concern or compassion for this person, just anger, and that's why I suggest examining her feelings.

                                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                                        Not only potential harm to the friendship but also any progress the person's made with the subject of food. The entire scenario is complicated and the OP just seems irritated.
                                                                        I happen to not see it any differently than a person who's got issues with alcohol or drugs or any other addiction…
                                                                        Food just happens to be more complicated as it's something that they can't avoid for their survival.

                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                          Food addictions are really difficult for that reason -- I knew a woman some years ago (pre-internet, obviously) who was battling morbid obesity -- she actually paid one of her neighbors to go to Walmart for her, because she couldn't enter the store without going to the McDonald's right inside the front door and feedbagging (her word) several orders of French fries. She knew she didn't want them, she knew the fat/sodium/calores they contained, but she simply couldn't NOT go order and consume several orders at a single sitting.

                                                                          As someone who doesn't suffer from that sort of issue, it was a real eye-opener to think of every single place you go as a minefield of opportunities to eat that must be managed.

                                                                          I've lost touch with her, but I've always hoped she found the help she needed to deal with her addiction.

                                                                        2. re: monavano

                                                                          Exactly. From what I've read/heard, people who are obese constantly have everyone's eyes on their plates. Now that she's trying to lose weight, give her a break.

                                                                          To the OP, if it really is a concern to you, maybe start by taking less yourself and set the precedence. Then go back for seconds if you want. I've been told by others on CH that it's rude for me not to plate everything even if it's a potluck and I don't plan to eat it and it's better to take it and let it go to waste. I don't agree w/ that but it shows there are different views to plating.

                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                            plating for others at a pot luck? Who does that?

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                No, plating for myself. I was told it was rude to choose what I wanted and not take everything.

                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                  I have never heard that and have never noticed other people following that "rule". There are plenty of posts on CH mentioning buffet/potluck items that go untouched by guests/customers. Maybe it's a regional thing. Where do you live? I've always lived in the northeast U.S.

                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                    Neither have I which is why I was surprised I was reprimanded here for it. It's been years but every time I go to one, I wonder. I honestly never even notice at my house whether guests skip a dish when I've made everything, let along someone paying enough attention at a potluck that I was rude enough to skip theirs.

                                                                                  2. re: chowser

                                                                                    well I'll tell you right now there's no way in hell I'm having any of my sister's cranberry/coconut/whipped cream 'salad' - don't even want to see it on my plate. I don't care what she or others think.

                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                      <cranberry/coconut/whipped cream 'salad'>

                                                                                      Now *there* are five words I *never* expected to see linked to each other.


                                                                                      1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                        Sounds promising but as a dessert. But as a salad?
                                                                                        Ah shucks, can't be real whipped cream, must be Dreamwhip.
                                                                                        Is your sister from Indiana or someplace like that? is she orthodox?

                                                                                        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                          This Indiana girl says "hmmm, doesn't sound too bad..."

                                                                                          1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                            THis Indiana girl twitches a little, because it sounds a little too much like the ground raw cranberries and strawberry jello that her grandmother used to insist on making.

                                                                                            I loved her dearly, and make sure her other dishes are on the family table every year, but that recipe didn't make the "heritage" list.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              And THIS Indiana girl cringes when reminded of HER mother's shredded raw carrots and pineapple in lemon jello. And Dream Whip? Ick.

                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                gah. I'd almost managed to block Dream Whip from my memory bank.

                                                                                                And whatever-the-hell-it-was that was some yellow jello with grated carrots AND grated cabbage floating on the top. Blergh.

                                                                                                Those jello salads were the yuck.

                                                                                                The only one I liked was one my great-grandma made on Christmas eve -- lime jello with tinned pear halves. Not sure I could eat it now (but at least it was fairly unoffensive...)

                                                                                      2. re: hill food

                                                                                        Exactly. And, once again, what any adult does or does not put on their own plate is NO ONE ELSE'S BUSINESS.

                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                          I don't remember for sure but I think mine was about SIL's "gumbo" or some sort of creole. She put in onions, green peppers, cans of tomatoes and bait shrimp in a pot and let it simmer.

                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                            That sounds dreadful.

                                                                                            However,when I go to a potluck, if it's a smaller event where it's possible to do so, I try to take at least a taste of everything homemade. I don't think anyone's noticing my plate as much as I think that someone who went to the effort and expense to prepare something might notice no one even tried their dish. If that happened to me, I'd feel bad.

                                                                                            I don't expect anyone else to do this. :)


                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                              *slowly raises hand*

                                                                                              I do that also if it's a smaller bring your own dish type of thing and something is looking neglected. I can eat things that don't appeal to me but if it's really bad that's what paper napkins are for.

                                                                                              1. re: On_yun

                                                                                                Glad I'm not alone. :) And sometimes, you find something surprisingly delicious!


                                                                                          2. re: hill food

                                                                                            I'll eat your share of the cranberry coconut whipped cream stuff! I must have been deprived of fluffy stuff as a kid - I don't make it myself, but I'll always try it at a potluck!

                                                                                      3. re: chowser

                                                                                        i have never heard that suggestion. no way do i take some of everything offered at cook-outs or buffets. gross.

                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                          It's more of a potluck idea than a buffet, everyone brings a dish and sometimes one isn't very good. It's basically pity eating and I'm pretty good at it. If someone brings 'baked tilapia surprise' or some such thing you would never know I didn't like it, and if it was really that bad I turn into a magician.

                                                                              2. Just chiming in to say I don't blame you for feeling the way you do. I'm pretty sure I would be irritated after several months too.

                                                                                1. Asking her to take smaller portions is humiliating. Unless people are going without or your group is in extreme economic distress, don't say a word. There is no kind way to broach this subject. Hopefully, her relationship with food will evolve and she will come to see that she doesn't need to take so much food. I entertain frequently and I always make "too much" food because I don't want to run out and have someone deprived. Inevitably, even after eating the salvageable leftovers and giving the dog the proteins, some food get tossed.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: zackly

                                                                                    I agree- the energy has been spent, the time has been put in, the money's been spent, the cow is still as dead whether every bit of that food gets consumed or not.
                                                                                    What changes?
                                                                                    Nothing much.

                                                                                  2. Perhaps this isn't so much of a guest problem as a you problem.
                                                                                    Try to think about why this bothers you so much. It just can't be THAT much food is being wasted, so what can you do to stop your spiraling feelings?

                                                                                    The psychologic aspect is extremely complex and for your friend's sake, I'd let this play out without drawing special attention to her.
                                                                                    It's like telling someone who is depressed to just snap out of it. There are emotions going on that are deeply rooted and just because it's been 7 months that have passed, the emotional scars are still healing.

                                                                                    btw- your dinners sound awesome!

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                      I agree with monavano. This is more your issue not your guest's. Leave it alone and move on if you can. This is a case of do what I say not what I do because when I get a "bee in my bonnet" about an issue that bothers me I have trouble letting go of it but when I say something I usually regret it afterwards because of hurt feelings.

                                                                                        1. re: zackly


                                                                                          I'd just let it slide.

                                                                                      1. They used to tell us at Weight Watchers "On your waist or in the waste, either way it's gone, but only if you eat it do you still have to carry it around."

                                                                                        Presumably before your friend had this surgery, she would have taken that much food, eaten it all and maybe had more. So she's not actually using up any more of your food than she was before and she's probably actually using less.

                                                                                        Yes, I can understand how annoying it is to see it go in the garbage, but at least in the garbage, it's not harming your friend's health. Maybe thinking of it that way will make it seem less aggravating?

                                                                                        Perhaps next time she says something like "I'm sure my eyes are bigger than my stomach", you could say "Well, if you don't end up eating it all, we could wrap it for you to take home." Some friends would take that as an invitation to take more so they could get more leftovers, but if she's the kind who would be more reasonable, that might be a gentle way of suggesting the doggie bag before the issue of whether she has thrown it away comes up, and since you'll be responding to something she said, it won't seem like singling her out.

                                                                                        1. do all other 7 diners really scrape clean their plates? not a single morsel taken goes uneaten? if that is the case, especially when some are having seconds and thirds, i dare say many of them are eating "more than they should," yet you don't seem to be judgey about that.

                                                                                          most good hosts make more than enough food for however many guests at the table. this doesn't seem to be a budget issue for you. it takes no more effort to make enough for 6 than it does for 10, so it's not the labor.

                                                                                          clearly your friend had and has food issues. why does it bother *you* so much? they are her problems, not yours. as an outsider, i'm sorry, but it sounds petty and mean. even with her taking food she can't/won't finish there remains plenty for everybody, yes?

                                                                                          people heal themselves on all sorts of timetables. be kind and let her be.

                                                                                          1. I'd just offer to box up whatever is left on her plate for her to eat later. That way at least it's not wasted. Other than that I wouldn't say anything.

                                                                                            1. I have to repeat myself here:

                                                                                              Leave her alone! Not your business! Look the other way! Ignore it! Etc.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                Amen. Hopefully the OP responds back with her thoughts on her reaction to this person.

                                                                                              2. Interesting you call her part of a group but never mention she is a friend. Hmmm.

                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: genoO

                                                                                                  The very first line of the OP says the get-together is with a "group of friends". Some of the posts seem to think they are potlucks but since they are at the OP's home and the problem friend watches the OP cooking the meal, that is NOT the case.
                                                                                                  The OP is hosting the dinners and as such has a right to be unhappy about the waste of food she has prepared.

                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                    the issue is not whether or not the OP has the "right" to be unhappy.
                                                                                                    the issue is how the op wants to deal with her own unhappiness.

                                                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                      totally agree, westsidegal --

                                                                                                      And at what point (and why) does the OP's "right" to be unhappy cross over the friend's "right" to learn to manage her eating in a friendly, non-judgmental environment without being singled out or shamed?

                                                                                                      Let's turn this around -- Let's substitute the word "alcohol" for "food" in this discussion, and "rehab" for "gastric sleeve"

                                                                                                      I cannot imagine a single person here who would bitch because someone left most of a glass of wine sitting after having taken a sip or two while they're trying to battle a past episode of alcoholism.

                                                                                                      To be fair, most recovering alcoholics shun alcohol completely -- but it reframes the food discussion to be about an addiction, not gluttony or not caring about the host.

                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                        As far as we know, the OP has not acted upon her feelings, and perhaps, she knows she doesn't have a right to judge openly, or heaven forbid, take "corrective" action, as evidenced by her musing here and using CH as a sounding board.
                                                                                                        It seems to me that many times CH'ers ask these questions because there's something in their gut that tells them they might be off base.

                                                                                                        Just giving benefit of the doubt. She sounds quite generous otherwise.

                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                          my response was framed as a reply to Greygarious' post about the OP's "right" to be upset, and concurring with WestsideGal's post.

                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            Got it ;-)

                                                                                                            My point was tagged to your post, but I wanted to add my thoughts to the conversation in general.

                                                                                                    2. re: greygarious

                                                                                                      She may have 'the right' to be unhappy but it certainly doesn't give her the right to humiliate the woman for not cleaning her plate like a child.

                                                                                                  2. Waste is wrong. Period.
                                                                                                    Your friend has food problems big time. She is to be pitied and helped, by whatever form the help takes. Doing nothing may be appropriate. Suffer.
                                                                                                    The idea of putting out a number of smaller plates is a good one. She can help herself to a solution. Other people may also welcome the opportunity to eat less. What is your guess of teh average weight of your party, male, female?
                                                                                                    I would speak with her husband frankly and without the wife and ask him to wait for his wife's remains.

                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                      That would definitely be wayyyy out of line and rude. Might as well not invite them rather than insult them.

                                                                                                      1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                        Wow. Yes, she does have food problems--she was morbidly obese and now has a gastric sleeve. She doesn't need to be pitied. She needs understanding. Her feelings are far more important than uneaten food. Regardless of friends' weight, I can't imagine trying to control/limit what they eat and I'm a fitness professional. Why would male/female matter? If most were overweight women, etiquette changes?

                                                                                                        I can't imagine what my husband would say if he were given, "discreetly" a plate of my trash to go, other than, "WTF?" and my husband doesn't even swear. OTOH, the couple would probably never show up again so that would solve the problem.

                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                            From the OP"
                                                                                                            "If I'm lucky, her husband will finish her plate for her, but sometimes by the time she has decided she is done, he has already gone back for seconds on his own and he doesn't want any more, so her plate will sit and the rest of her food gets tossed at the end of the day."

                                                                                                            The objections to my suggestions sound defiant.

                                                                                                            1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                              Not defiant.
                                                                                                              Perhaps a little more compassionate, tolerant and thoughtful...something the world could certainly use a little more of.

                                                                                                              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                vinnie: defiant? what a choice of word!!!!
                                                                                                                are we too uppity for you?
                                                                                                                so by being sensitive, caring, and understanding toward the guest who is literally fighting for her life, are we DEFYING YOU?

                                                                                                                not very often am i stunned, but you did it!

                                                                                                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                  I'm trying to make the jump from the OP's statement that her husband might sometimes eat the food on her plate while it's hot rather than plating seconds and the idea of pulling her husband aside and talking to him about his wife's leftover food behind her back, as if she were a toddler. My response might have come off as being "defiant" to treating an adult woman who has an eating disorder like a child or trying to decide whether your guests need to lose weight and then trying to control what they eat, unsolicited. So be it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                    How can anything you wrote be defiant? Defiant means deliberately and openly disobedient. Vinnie expressed his/her opinion. You and others disagreed. That sequence doesn't even come close to the definition of defiant.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                                      You must have missed the part where I virtually stamped my foot, put my hands on my hips, and stuck out my tongue.;-)

                                                                                                              2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                What a horrible way to "deal" with the problem. I would be mortified, and would never show up again. I am sure my husband would be, too, for being told he is essentially required to be my garbage disposal. And how utterly insulting that if the situation were to be addressed, it is with him, not with her.

                                                                                                                Perhaps that would resolve the situation, though.

                                                                                                                1. "Wasted food due to guest taking too much -- any solutions?"

                                                                                                                  Don't serve buffet-style. Or even "family style". When diners are served "set portions" on their plates they are less likely to over eat (or over waste).

                                                                                                                  1. sort of a pity the interest in tapas and other 'small plates' seems to have peaked and is on the wane. it'd be one way of tackling an unspoken "one tactic fits all" approach (which is really the only decent way to address what, sorry, I find to be a non-issue).

                                                                                                                    1. Let it go and say nothing. In time it will correct itself by her taking smaller portions or eating everything on her plate.

                                                                                                                      1. Another random thought- sometimes appetites decrease over time and the guest might really *want* to try many dishes, but finds they just can't put away what they used to.
                                                                                                                        My mom's appetite really decreased towards the end of her life. She was still enjoying food, but she filled up quickly. So, she probably forfeited her CPC membership when she began leaving food on her plate. Although I noted her decreased portions, I never said anything about how much food she took, or, how much food she left on her plate.
                                                                                                                        I probably did say, 'oh, you're just ordering an app?" when we dined out, but that wasn't long lived as I found that that was all she needed.

                                                                                                                        Maybe in these situations, the eyes and expectations of how much is enough are not in line with when the stomach says "enough".

                                                                                                                        I, too, hope the OP isn't offended, because I think she is being honest about something that's bugging her.
                                                                                                                        Some of the responses, however, are appalling!

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                          the friend has had a gastric sleeve because of her history with obesity. Gastric sleeves are not put into place when someone has a few pounds to lose -- it's major surgery, and not to be taken lightly.

                                                                                                                          This isn't appetite loss as a natural side effect of aging.

                                                                                                                          Both absolutely legitimate, but absolutely not similar issues.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                            Hence, "random thought", ok??
                                                                                                                            I'm not dense, I know the difference!!

                                                                                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                                                                                            Exactly. Her feelings are very understandable and most of us know how much work/money goes into preparing food like that. I think what it comes down to is that people who get to the point of morbid obesity and need surgery have some sort of eating disorder and the less made about eating the better. I personally hate when people notice what I'm eating or not eating. I can't imagine what it's like for someone who was that obese and dieting. I've read that people who are obese are afraid to eat much in pubic--she might just be doing that, wanting to eat more but afraid to be seen eating that much. Who knows? But it comes down to respecting her feelings over the waste.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                              Some time ago, I ran heavily. I watched what I ate, lost weight, and generally was feeling really good on so many levels.
                                                                                                                              The fricking nerve of people who commented about my size, or lack there of, or what I ate, or was avoiding eating, was beyond aggravating and RUDE!
                                                                                                                              What they thought they "knew" about me was so damn presumptuous and where they thought their place was to interject was appalling.

                                                                                                                              Sometimes, a little leftover food is just a little leftover food.

                                                                                                                          3. "However, it has now been several months since her surgery..."

                                                                                                                            If we were talking about how long a person is allowed to grieve after the death of a loved one, few posters would be writing in to say words to the effect of "suck it up" or "get with the program" after such a short time. Anyone whose food issues are serious enough to warrant gastric surgery is experiencing just as great a loss.

                                                                                                                            I think that you are being quite intolerant of this friend. You're using your own values to decide how long is enough for this friend to adjust to the rest of her life.

                                                                                                                            I can't figure out a single way to say anything or do anything that isn't ultimately going to wreck the friendship. I'm especially bewildered by the posters who are saying things like "Real friends can say anything to one another." We'll agree to disagree! I can think of a long list of things that are better left unsaid even among real friends. Saying something to this friend or serving her portion or offering to wrap up her left overs is saying, "You're still a failure. You haven't fully brought your issues under control."

                                                                                                                            So which is more important: the friendship or reducing the waste this friend creates?

                                                                                                                            1. "... she consistently makes comments like, "Well I'm sure my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I won't be able to eat all this, but that's okay." and I just want to tell her "Actually, it's NOT okay."

                                                                                                                              Since everyone appears to be contributing to the meal, I'm assuming that everyone also has a stake in avoiding waste. Just out of curiosity, how do the other people in the room respond to this person's comments?

                                                                                                                              If no one reacts to the comment as a "teachable moment" about portion control or waste, then your group is sending YOU a loud and clear message. You should keep quiet, too. If your friends have already said something to this person and she is still serving herself too much and repeatedly commenting on her portions, NOTHING you are going to say will make a bit of difference in her behavior about food.

                                                                                                                              27 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                                                Good points.

                                                                                                                                Sometimes people who lose a good deal of weight have difficulty modulating and finding their new homeostasis.
                                                                                                                                It takes time and I find taking too much food and leaving some to be rather minor.
                                                                                                                                Maybe in a while, this friend will stop placing too much emphasis on how much she puts on her plate and how much she consumes.
                                                                                                                                For whatever reason, right now, she's doing it.
                                                                                                                                Self conscious?

                                                                                                                                Who knows.

                                                                                                                                1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                  the friend is not the only one placing too much emphasis on how much food is on her plate.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                                                  The OP did NOT say that everyone is contributing to the meal. The OP is going the cooking and hosting the meal in her home. She says that she provides "at least some of the food" and that sometimes another person who is a fellow CSA member contributes part of their share so there is enough for the OP to prepare a dish to serve 8.

                                                                                                                                  As mentioned previously, the OP has the option of plating for all 8 of the participants, blithely mentioning that seconds are available. Having a relish tray/salad bowl and bread basket on the table would make things seem more casual.

                                                                                                                                  If for some reason, she can't plate the meals, rather than making a production of offering to pack up a take-home container, the OP could just do it, put it into the fridge, and casually give it to the woman as she is about to leave. "Oh, wait a sec, Marge." Open fridge, hand over container:"I thought you might like to take what you couldn't finish home with you for tomorrow. It would be a shame to let it go to waste." After all, Marge *wanted* it to begin with, and for some reason about which we can only speculate, didn't eat it all. If she doesn't like leftovers, it should dawn on her that the OP does not like waste, and spur her to take lesser amounts in the future.

                                                                                                                                  I find most of the responses on this thread unduly harsh toward the OP. And, by the way, I am obese myself.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                    Another thing I've thought of would be for the OP to invest in a set of smaller dinner plates. Basically a plate perhaps sold as a "lunch plate" rather than the more classic very large dinner plate.

                                                                                                                                    No matter how much one thinks they want to eat at a buffet, most people will fill their plate - whatever the size of the plate.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                      If you look at vintage sets of dinnerware in thrift shops or on eBay, you'll notice that dinner plates used to be about a third smaller than those made in recent years.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                        Ah yes- the buffet plate wasn't part of most of our family heirloom sets.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: greygarious


                                                                                                                                          During my mother's various efforts to lose weight, at one point she bought a set of smaller dinner plates (don't remember their exact name). And when I see those plates on their own, they look totally appropriate for the portion of food I should take for dinner. But if I see them next to the 'dinner plates' of my childhood they look so small.

                                                                                                                                          Same thing happens to me at buffets. I don't typically approach a buffet thinking "first I'll have my salad course, then dinner". So I'll often take the salad plate, and it's only if I see it next to the provided "dinner" plate that I see as being small.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                          Proven many times. It's an option.
                                                                                                                                          Spend money to mitigate her perception of waste.

                                                                                                                                          Rather ironic.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                            Bingo - I was reading this entire thread to see if someone suggested a smaller dinner plate for EVERYONE. Some sets of dinner plates are as large as chargers that are often set underneath the plate to catch drips of food.

                                                                                                                                            Downsize the dining plates for all who attend the dinner parties, and see if that might help the issue for the OP on the 'waste' of food.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                              I would bet any amount of money that if the size of plates changed - then EVERYONE would take/eat less food.

                                                                                                                                              Without looking to be critical about the choices made about food consumption, most American adults don't truly need as much food as they have the appetite to eat. If you use a smaller plate, if someone's still hungry or just really in love with the meal of the evening - they can get seconds.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                                <then EVERYONE would take/eat less food>.

                                                                                                                                                That's an interesting theory, certainly not what's happened with me.
                                                                                                                                                I've had affairs, a wedding and a few other parties, where I've used smaller plates for dessert…I think that's common.
                                                                                                                                                I was told by staff that people would use a plate for the cake, another for the smaller offerings, another for fruit and whatever else was out on the tables.
                                                                                                                                                They certainly weren't consuming less food by any stretch of the imagination.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                  If the general set up is a buffet and there are lots of options, then people will eat a lot and that's that.

                                                                                                                                                  But if this is a seated meal with dishes served family style - then I would still stick to my theory.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                            <Open fridge, hand over container>

                                                                                                                                            So, you're saying the OP should just do this for all the guests then?
                                                                                                                                            Monitor who leaves what on their plate and make individual leftover packages? With their names on them perhaps?
                                                                                                                                            Otherwise, the OP is singling out the person and acknowledging she watched what she left on her plate.
                                                                                                                                            Seems like a very strange behavior…rather passive aggressive, rude and cruel.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                              Yes, if others leave food, but the OP suggested that "Marge" is the only one who doesn't finish her meal.

                                                                                                                                              I do not consider wanting to avoid waste, and acting accordingly, to be "strange behavior". First-world failure to eschew waste is a major contributor to the degredation of the environment.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                <major contributor to the degradation of the environment>

                                                                                                                                                Whoa. Totally strange behavior.
                                                                                                                                                So the environment trumps compassion for another human being and what they're going through with their eating habits?
                                                                                                                                                We as posters, are to automatically assume the other guests have cleaned their plates like good little boys and girls and this woman is the only one not following the rules about wasting food?
                                                                                                                                                The OP should feel entitled to broadcast the woman's personal life when it comes to food by humiliating her publicly?
                                                                                                                                                Punish her guest? 'You don't finish my food, you wasteful thing, and I'll show you who's boss'?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                  I don't think it's a contest between the environment and compassion for the woman's recovery. We're all trying to think of options that will solve the two distinct issues that seem to be happening here....the OP's growing anger about wasting time and effort on food that's thrown away time after time, and her guest's continued adjustment (whether it be physical or psychological or both) to her surgery. Also, I believe the guest's surgery is common knowledge.

                                                                                                                                                  I think a form of greygarious' solution is doable...maybe, when clearing plates, the OP could ask "would anyone like to take leftovers home?" I bet there'd be takers.

                                                                                                                                                  FWIW, my own late mom (having survived the Depression, WWII, and a rather tough life as the child of a single mom) despised wasted food and held to the "Use it up, wear it out, or do without" mantra...stale bread, bacon drippings, chicken carcasses, carrot tops, etc, were to be used, not tossed...even in her later years, when she had me to make sure she was supported financially after my dad passed. So yes, both host and guest's feelings are valid. It's a matter of finding the golden mean.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                    The OP is singling out the guest for her own personal reasons and agenda.
                                                                                                                                                    There's no mention of any of the other guests and what they leave on their plates.
                                                                                                                                                    I'm pretty sure a handful of waste, left on one person's plate, isn't going to turn our environment upside down.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                      I have several relatives, my own parents included, who found wastefulness abhorrent.
                                                                                                                                                      Would any of them purposely go out of their way to bring attention to one of their guests or children's eating habits?
                                                                                                                                                      Never in a billion years, thankfully.
                                                                                                                                                      There's more to the story than one person's 'wasting' their food on their plate.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                        greygarious: so, let's change the hypothetical situation a little:

                                                                                                                                                        1) let's say that instead of bariatric surgery, the guest was a brittle diabetic, had had to have surgery because of the resultant illnesses associated with the diabetes, and was still struggling with maintaining the dietary restrictions associated with the disease.

                                                                                                                                                        if the diabetic guest had helped himself to a large piece of cake, but, before eating the cake was able to get control of himself and was able to leave the cake on the plate,

                                                                                                                                                        would it be a kind, helpful, good, nice, empathetic, thing to do to pack up the cake and give the cake to the guest or to the guest's wife so that the temptation FOLLOWS HIM HOME and so that the wife is now involved in the whole thing? especially if you do no such thing to any other guest so that there is an element of shaming going on too?

                                                                                                                                                        do you think that it would be at all appropriate for THE HOSTESS. unsolicited, to try to manipulate the adult guest's food consumption which now is part of a much larger, very profound, health issue?

                                                                                                                                                        2) if the hostess or anyone is really concerned about <<the degradation of the environment>> some mention should be paid to WHAT is being served. there is a huge difference between the environmental degradation that occurs as a result of the production of some foods vs. other foods.
                                                                                                                                                        this MAJOR issue is virtually NEVER discussed.
                                                                                                                                                        there is a huge lack of intellectual honesty to imply that the guest with the medical problem could be contributing more to the "degradation of the environment" than the HOSTESS and the rest of the guests are contributing as a result of the food choices that have been made for the meal.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                          "...some mention should be paid to WHAT is being served. there is a huge difference between the environmental degradation that occurs as a result of the production of some foods vs. other foods.
                                                                                                                                                          this MAJOR issue is virtually NEVER discussed.
                                                                                                                                                          there is a huge lack of intellectual honesty to imply that the guest with the medical problem could be contributing more to the "degradation of the environment" than the HOSTESS and the rest of the guests are contributing as a result of the food choices that have been made for the meal."

                                                                                                                                                          This excellent comment reminded me of articles I've read on the issue about beef production. (See link to one such article below)

                                                                                                                                                          The OP is getting her meat from a CSA so it is possible that the beef she uses avoids at least some of the charges against irresponsible beef production.

                                                                                                                                                          Still, there's plenty of room for hypocrisy among the posters who are thumping their chests loudly about waste. Are those posters using cloth or disposable diapers? Are those posters making a special trip to use their local landfill's hazardous waste disposal service for partially full paint cans or cleaning products? Are those posters flushing unused or out of date RX medicine down the drain? Are those posters bringing groceries home in re-usable bags or in store-provided, single-use bags, especially plastic bags?

                                                                                                                                                          To speak about the food on one guest's plate in the same way as disposable diapers is to trivialize every legitimate waste in our society.

                                                                                                                                                          I've been corrected that other people are NOT bringing food. Perhaps money is the root of this whole problem. Perhaps, the OP's original desire to generously host an every other week get-togethers is a strain on her time and her budget. Of course, that raises a whole other set of issues: Why are good friends willing to eat at the OP's house week after week without apparently contributing anything in the way of food, wine, or turns as a hostess?

                                                                                                                                                          Here's the link to a fuller discussion of beef production:


                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                                                                            You make some interesting points about the bigger picture.

                                                                                                                                                            Regarding disposable diapers, I read an article many years ago about what the impact would be if EVERYONE switched to cloth diapers. The need for additional fresh water for washing. The chemicals (detergent, bleach) used in the washing, which then go into our sewer system, along with the additional solid waste being flushed (and the water that goes with that). How about the resources used to produce more cloth diapers? The gas for the vehicles for the diaper-laundering services that would pop up?

                                                                                                                                                            Environmental issues are complex and real solutions would require a larger view and the development of an all-inclusive system - which the majority would have to go along with for it to work.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                              really, when it comes to food, there are MANY foods that are commonly found in north american cuisines and MANY common life practices that are unambiguously poor for the environment.

                                                                                                                                                              just because some are ambiguous, doesn't mean that all are ambiguous.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                            "...some mention should be paid to WHAT is being served."

                                                                                                                                                            heh, yeah maybe the OP's food looks great but tastes like crap.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                        I'm reminded of the many times I've ordered food in restaurants and eaten until I'm full…normal, healthy eating behavior.
                                                                                                                                                        I'm always leaving food on my plate and thinking nothing of it.
                                                                                                                                                        Am I a major contributor to the 'degradation of the environment'? Should I be called on it by the server and humiliated and shunned?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                          Oh, yeah...the clean plate club. A terrible thing for a person's health. Good point.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                          I really don't see this any differently than inviting a known bulimic to a dinner party.
                                                                                                                                                          Should the host go up to the bulimic and quietly ask them to not take so much food because it'll be 'wasted'?

                                                                                                                                                          Either invite the person and be tolerant and don't say anything or don't invite the person.
                                                                                                                                                          Suggesting to the OP to make passive aggressive comments or
                                                                                                                                                          passive aggressive moves, in the end, is aggressive and cruel.
                                                                                                                                                          The person's had a surgery, she's not stupid and clueless as to what's going on around her. In fact, her radar's up and running.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                            so let's call her out and say (in essence) Here, Marge, here's the stuff you didn't eat -- I saw how much food you were going to waste, so guess what -- now you can take it home with you. Doesn't matter if that's no the words you used -- that's what you're saying.

                                                                                                                                                            (at least putting out some foil to-go boxes and a roll of plastic wrap for everyone doesn't call her out and shame her in front of friends)

                                                                                                                                                            No better than making a kid sit at the dinner table for hours, staring down a plate of something they don't like.

                                                                                                                                                            Teetering precariously on the edge between cruelty an downright abuse -- and certainly no way to consider an adult whom you consider a friend.

                                                                                                                                                    2. My husband had a sleeve gastrectomy three years ago and has lost (and kept off) more than 125 pounds. The decision to have the procedure was long in the making and good food choices continues to be a daily struggle.

                                                                                                                                                      Please be kind and don't say anything to her. Over the next few months, if she's successful, she'll be shedding large amounts of weight. Perhaps then, you might approach the issue with "Susie, you look fantastic. Is there anything I can do differently at our dinners to accommodate your needs?" Anything else seems petty and besides-the-point.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. Folks, this thread has run its course, and is becoming increasingly unfriendly and repetitive. We're locking it now.