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(StatePoint) A pizza crust here, a chicken nugget there. Can eating leftovers off your child’s plate really add up? The answer is yes. Eighty-one percent of moms with kids under 18 admit to eating off their kids’ plates before, during or after a meal. What’s more, one in three say they eat less healthfully now than they did before they became a parent, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of Nutrisystem by Harris Poll.
Some of the top foods moms are guilty of eating off their kids’ plates are chicken nuggets, pizza crust, French fries, potato chips, mac and cheese, pancakes and cupcakes.
“While those few bites may seem inconsequential, the extra calories can really add up over time, and may be detrimental to weight maintenance and weight loss efforts,” says Courtney McCormick, corporate dietitian at Nutrisystem.
On average, eating those leftovers on your child’s plate once a day for one week can add up to more than 400 additional calories. Nibbling at that rate equals nearly six pounds per year!
To help moms make healthier choices, McCormick is offering the following tips.
• Eat mindfully. Be aware of just how much food you’re picking from your child’s plate. Include this food in your daily calorie count and rethink your eating throughout the rest of the day. Consider forgoing a snack or eating less at a meal.
• Reassess your child’s portions. If your child consistently has leftovers, reassess portions. Look at your child’s hands for guidance -- protein such as meat, fish and chicken should be the size of their palm; fruits and veggies should be the size of two palms; healthy fats like cheese, nut butters and avocado should be the size of their thumb (from knuckle to tip); and pasta, rice and other grains should be the size of their fist.
• Be picky. If you do find yourself grabbing leftovers, go for the less caloric choices. For example, opt for the blueberries and carrots instead of the chicken nuggets.
• Save it for later. If you feel the urge to eat leftovers because you can’t stand to see food get wasted, then save your child’s leftovers and serve it to them later as a snack or meal.
• Eat while they eat. If you’re picking at your child’s plate because you’re hungry, then try to have your own healthful snack or meal to eat while your child is eating. Make sure you choose items for your diet rather than just select the same foods your child is eating.
More wellness tips can be found on Nutrisystem’s blog “The Leaf,” at leaf.nutrisystem.com.
Parenthood doesn’t necessarily need to translate to weight gain. With a few smart strategies, you can keep your calorie needs in balance and your weight in-check.