The Sneaky Reason Moms Can’t Lose Weight & How to Deal

Article posted in: Experts’ Corner Diet & Nutrition
can't lose weight

A pizza crust here, a chicken nugget there, can eating leftovers off your child’s plate really add up? The answer is yes. A survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Nutrisystem found that 81% of moms with kids under 18 admit to eating off their kids’ plates either before, during or after a meal. What’s more, more than 1 in 3 (36%) say they eat less healthfully now than they did before they became a parent.

Some of the top foods moms are guilty of eating off their kids’ plates are:

  • French Fries – 62%
  • Pizza Crust – 53%
  • Potato Chips – 46%
  • Chicken Nuggets – 41%
  • Cake/Cupcakes – 35%
  • Mac & Cheese –34%
  • Pancakes – 28%

“While the leftover foods that are on your child’s plate may seem small, the calories in those extra few bites really can add up over time,” says Courtney McCormick, Corporate Dietitian at Nutrisystem. “And those extra calories can really put your calorie needs out of balance and may be detrimental to your weight loss efforts.”

As ‘The Grown-Up Consequences of Cleaning Kids’ Plates’ infographic (see below) depicts, what many moms don’t realize is that, on average, eating leftovers once a day for one week can add up to more than 400 additional calories. Snacking at that rate weekly equals nearly six pounds per year. The more you pick off your kid’s plate, the more the calories go up,” adds McCormick.

7 Weight Loss Tips from (Really!) Busy Moms

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To help moms everywhere make healthier choices and avoid reaching for that leftover pizza crust, McCormick provides the following tips:

1. Be Aware of How Much You Are Eating

The first thing to do is be aware of just how much food you are picking from your child’s plate. If you are doing it every so often, say once a week, then it probably isn’t a big deal. But if you are cleaning their plate every day, you may need to cut back.

2. Reassess Your Child’s Portion Sizes

If your child consistently has food left over on their plate, reassess the portion size you are giving them. Similar to how we often overdo our own portion sizes, we often put more on our child’s plate than they can eat at one time.  One way to know the right portion size is to look at your child’s hands – protein (like meats, fish, chicken) should be the size of their palm; fruits and veggies should be the size of 2 palms; healthy fats (cheese, nut butters, avocado) should be the size of their thumb (from knuckle to tip); and grains (pasta, rice) should be the size of their fist. Using their hand to judge portion size is great because as they age their hands get larger so you can increase their portion sizes.

3. Be Picky About What You Eat

If you find yourself grabbing leftovers, go for the less caloric choices – choose to eat the leftover blueberries or carrots on their plate instead of the chicken nuggets or mac & cheese.

4. Save It for Another Day

If you feel the urge to eat leftovers because you can’t stand to see food wasted, save your child’s leftovers and serve them later as a snack or the next day’s meal choice.

5. Eat While They Eat

If you are picking leftovers from your child’s plate because you are hungry, then try to have your own healthy, lower-calorie snack or meal to eat while your child is eating. Make sure the food you choose fits into your diet rather than just eating the food your child is eating.

6. Rethink Your Day

If you do end up eating the food from your child’s plate, then rethink your eating throughout the rest of the day – maybe forgo a snack or eat less at a meal. Take into account the calories you ate off your child’s plate and include them in your daily calorie count.

can't lose weight