How my ADHD affects food waste

Story by Aleta Storch MS, RDN, LMHC, owner of Wise Heart Nutrition | @the_adhd_rd
Image by Erin Champan | @erins_illustrations

ADHDers often waste a lot of food. We buy food without having a plan for what to do with it. We forget what we have in the fridge. The food we have doesn’t sound good. We feel too overwhelmed or exhausted to make, use, or eat the food. We buy things impulsively and they aren’t tasty. We can’t handle the texture of leftovers or reheated food… the list can go on and on.

It sucks to throw away food. I used to hold onto food because I felt terrible getting rid of it, and then it would just continue to sit there. So I would avoid the fridge, the counter, or wherever future food waste could be found. And then I realized that this also doesn’t feel good, and doesn’t help me with nourishing my body.

Here are 3 quick and ADHD-friendly tips for reducing food waste:

  1. Pick the tough veggies: hardier vegetables last longer and are less likely to rot and go to waste. When planning meals, consider using kale, broccoli, carrots, or cabbage, especially for meals you plan to have later in the week. 
  2. Freeze smoothie fruit: if you buy fruit and it starts to get too ripe, cut it up (peel first, if needed) and throw it in a designated “frozen fruit bag” and keep it in the freezer for easy smoothies.
  3. Keep a fridge inventory list: if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist! Try keeping an inventory list of foods that are perishable and hang it on the fridge. Cross things off as you use them, and add more on as you buy them. Don’t try to track everything in your fridge… just the things that will likely go bad quickly if you forget about them. 

And one bonus tip: Forgive yourself. Give yourself permission to not be perfect, and to tolerate the discomfort of food waste. Beating yourself up won’t solve any problems.

Even with all of the best tools, I still end up throwing food away more than I would like to. I wish it wasn’t true, but I may never get to a place where I don’t EVER waste ANY food. Making small changes has definitely helped, but shifting my self-judgment has been equally as (or more) important. When I do waste food, I try to think of something I could try to do differently in the future. If that thing works, GREAT! If not, that’s okay. My ADHD brain is trying.

Published by foodwastestories

The first food waste magazine.

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