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Your Kid’s Leftovers Could be Sabotaging your Weight Loss Goals

Your Kid’s Leftovers Could be Sabotaging your Weight Loss Goals

Your Kid’s Leftovers Could be Sabotaging your Weight Loss Goals: Tips to Cut out these Mindless Calories

Ah, to be a kid again

Toddlers, and kids in general, are living the dream, amiright? “The dream” being the ability to eat copious amounts of complete crap foods and not gain weight, or at least not care about gaining weight. I mean, I used to grab bear claws two at a time, and I’d get ’em lodged…okay, okay, that’s just a hilarious Tommy Boy reference.  But I do remember going to my best friend’s house across the street and eating Doritos until there was nothing left but empty bags, and washing them down with oceans of Dr. Pepper Heavy (aka regular, non-Diet Dr. Pepper). And I was a regular, normal-sized human with no concerns about my body or the scale.

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Maybe this makes me a “bad” mom, but…

I don’t claim to be a “crunchy” mom, and my kids eat normal kid crap.  Macaroni and cheese, PB&Js, chicken nuggets, french toast sticks, pizza rolls, hot dogs, pretzels, cereal, corn dogs, cookies, fruit snacks… Thankfully they are really good at eating their fruits, vegetables, cheese, nuts, and yogurt alongside the mostly processed junk. Makes me feel a little better when they’re also downing some natural, fresh vitamins and minerals.

I don’t subscribe to any desire or need to feed my kids organic, gluten free, sugar free, non dairy, grain free stuff. 1) That sounds like a lot of work, and 2) Why??  My kids eat their “healthy” food, too, and are active, healthy, and happy. They are thriving, so I’m not worried about them eating the less healthy stuff. I figure they have their whole lives to watch what they eat and pay attention to their health and fitness on their own terms. Honestly, I believe healthy eating and taking care of our physical and mental well-being is something to be modeled, not forced.

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Sometimes you can out train a bad diet

If you’re a young kid, anyway! The little buggers are so damn active.  I just witnessed my 3 year old bouncing around the house on her blow up unicorn for an absurd length of time. I can’t help but wonder why she would choose to do that.  Wouldn’t she rather curl up in the recliner with a smartphone and a coffee, and ignore her smartwatch’s pleading reminders to move her ass? Weird.  Kids are weird. My 6 year old son somehow manages to remain in constant motion for hours upon hours with just the power of a single grape (cut in halves, of course) inside him. Imagine his energy level after downing some dino nugs!  I don’t get it. Never will.  These creatures defy the laws of science sometimes.

Take a page out of a kid’s book when it comes to moderation

My kids get to eat as much as they can stuff down their gullets. Of allll the good stuff.  But even though they have the opportunity to eat until they puke, they don’t.  They’ll leave cake, doughnuts, ice cream, and pizza sitting on their plates because they’ve gotten their tummies full enough. Like, who does that??

I like to think their aptitude for moderation is partly because I allow them to eat these foods on a regular basis. They don’t feel the need to gorge themselves on junk and sweets because it’s readily available. If I made certain things off-limits completely, I could see them going overboard on “unhealthy” foods once they are on the table. It’s reminiscent of the sad binge-restrict cycle so many grown-ups live by in their attempts to lose weight. Cutting out food you love in the name of health or weight loss just isn’t worth it.

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I’m certain most of a 6- and 3- year old child’s ability to not overeat is their biology combined with simple lack of interest and short attention spans.  But I’ll give myself credit where credit isn’t due. Haha.

Why can’t grown-ups eat like toddlers?

So, as I was saying, my children eat good.  I eat good, too.  But, most of the time, my “good” leans more toward macro-friendly, low fat, high protein, high volume foods than it does pizza rolls and mac-n-cheese. Unfortunately.  But not really unfortunately, because I genuinely feel my best when I fuel my body properly.

I respect myself by honoring my body through food and movement. Now, if I could eat ridiculous amounts of creamy fettuccine alfredo, greasy takeout pizza, and decadent birthday cake day in and day out and not feel like shit or be uncomfortably unfit…I would. If anyone says they wouldn’t they’re either lying or they’re a space alien and don’t understand the question. Either way, GTFO there.

The junk food temptation is real

Being health and fitness conscious is hard when you’re a busy mom, running around like a chicken with its head cut off, bending over backwards to please the impossibly unpleasable little humans you created.  They are Frankenstein’s monsters. We did this to ourselves, and the experiment really went awry. But that scary green dude is ugly and our monsters are cute, so it’s easier to keep them around.  Having them around means we have to feed them. Constantly, it seems! Meal after meal, and snacks on snacks on snacks! There’s so much constant temptation. Having all this kiddie food around is a constant temptation! Your kid’s leftovers could be sabotaging your weight loss goals.

It’s so easy to nibble on the kids’ mac and cheese. First of all, you’re so lightheaded from blowing on it it’s hard to think straight. God forbid you don’t cool it down to an acceptable temperature for the pickiest little patrons with the least amount of self-awareness ever.  Yeah, just shovel that steaming pile of molten cheese and pasta into your mouth, kid. Nothing could go wrong. *Eyeroll*  I dream of the day I can hand them food straight from the oven or fast food bag and they just figure it out.  But, as it were, I frantically have to tear apart and cool their shit down before it can be served to them. Meanwhile, back at mama’s plate, my food has gotten cold and gross.

Why we need some kid crap awareness

Anyway, scarfing down a bite of mac n cheese here, a handful of Goldfish crackers there, and the half cookie your kid didn’t finish (psycho…), can really sabotage your weight loss and fitness goals.  Because it’s usually not a conscious, one-time thing.  It’s a mindless, each and every meal and snack time thing. We do it without thinking.  Maybe it’s because we hate wasting food, or just because it’s there, or maybe it’s just too tempting.  Whatever the reason, it needs to be nipped in the bud.

Check out the nutritional impact each of these easy, lil, “nothing,” junky bites, licks, and tastes has on the table below. Your Kid’s Leftovers could be sabotaging your weight loss goals!

SnackQtyCaloriesCarbsFatProtein
Goldfish1 cracker2.50.0350.090.05
Doritos1 chip121.50.670.167
Fruit Loops1 small handful (6 grams)2450.240.31
French Toast Stick⅓ of one stick273.71.170.5
Peanut Butter1 small glob left on the PB&J knife (7 grams)39.41.753.31.53
Chicken Nugget1 nugget, frozen Tyson5433.42.8
Mini Corn Dog1 mini corn dog, frozen Foster Farms554.753.251.75
Mac & Cheese1 spoonful (18 grams)5882.11.85
Cookie½ of a 28g grocery store bakery chocolate chip cookie759.540.5
Examples of mindless snacks and how your kid’s leftovers could be sabotaging your weight loss goals

Now I’m not suggesting you freak out over one measly Goldfish cracker. But if you’re eating a handful of them – say, 10 – that’s 25 calories that should probably be accounted for if you’re a calorie counter or macro tracker. Even if you aren’t, you need to be aware of what you’re putting in your mouth and how it affects your progress and ability to reach your goals.

RELATED POST: I Started Tracking Macros at My “Happy” Weight, and Here’s What Happened

Don’t tell me you’re not seeing progress despite eating nothing but dry grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and water, when you’re really scarfing down 25, 50, or 100 untracked calories here and there…multiple times per day, day in and day out.  It adds up! And it is directly affecting your progress. Here’s a real world example of how my kids’ leftovers could be sabotaging my own weight loss and fitness goals.

Peanut butter, amiright?

For example, I love peanut butter.  When I make the kids a PB&J I’ll sometimes lick the knife or spoon when I’m done.  I used to always do this, but I’ve since reeled it in and only do occasionally now.  I was curious one day, so I weighed the spoon with the bits of leftover peanut butter on it, licked it clean, then weighed the spoon again. It didn’t have much peanut butter on it to start with, because I wipe them pretty clean onto the bread on purpose these days, but it ended up being 2 grams of peanut butter.

That measly 2g of peanut butter packs 11 calories and 1g of fat.  I know, I know, that doesn’t sound like much. However, if you have a quick lil scoop of peanut butter instead of the tiny thin smear left on the knife, you could easily be taking in 100 calories and 8g of fat without even knowing or thinking about it!

How to quit the crap

Here are my tried-and-true tips for NOT eating your kid’s leftovers. Your kid’s leftovers could be sabotaging your weight loss goals:

1. Remember they’re gross.

Kid leftovers are inherently gross.  Cold, congealed mac n cheese? Ralph. I don’t know what it is about it, though…it’s irresistible!  Also, please remember, your child’s grubby little paws and tongue have been all up in that plate of food.  They pick their boogers, people. They scratch their butts inside their undies. And then put them into their mouths. They lick things like banisters and floors. So their boogery, saliva-y, poopy, germy fingers and utensils have been touching the food you are so tempted to put in your own mouth. Let that sink in.

I am no stranger to finishing my kids’ doughnuts and cupcakes despite this fact. Even seeing the smeary tongue tracks and bite marks in the icing doesn’t always stop me. I’m not proud of this. I am disgusting. Luckily, there are other practices to help you get past any hangups, or lack thereof, when it comes to the sheer grossness that is kid leftovers.

2. Throw them away.

And I mean ASAP! If you’re clearing plates, take them straight to the garbage can and dump them out before your hands are free to pick anything off the plates and eat it. Better yet, if your kids are old enough, have them take their plates, scrape them off into the trash, and put them in the sink or dishwasher. This way you don’t even have to have eyes on it.  Before you know it, the leftovers – which, again, are inherently gross on their own – are now swimming in the trash with old coffee grounds and raw chicken trimmings. That oughta do the trick. Now it’s not even a decision that needs to be made.

Completely ruin them if you have to

Anyone watch Sex and The City?  When Miranda throws away the chocolate cake she made to distract her from not getting any?  She actually picks a piece out of the trash and eats it, then comes to her senses and squeezes dish soap all over the rest of it sitting in the garbage can.  Desperate times call for desperate measures. Do what you gotta do!

3. Package them up.

I understand there are some instances when you won’t want to just throw the leftovers out.  Maybe there’s a lot of food left and you could get the kids another meal out of it. I know I’ll often keep the kids’ leftover meals and make them eat that before they can have a usually tastier, junkier snack later on.  I seriously wondered once how many times I could reheat a microwaved cheesy egg and serve it as the only meal/snack before it would be considered child abuse.

In these cases, immediately put the leftovers in a storage container and shove it in the fridge. Out of site, out of mind. If I have leftover pancakes, waffles, or pizza in convenient lil bite-sized pieces just sitting out on my counter in plain sight, I’m much more tempted to pop one, or all of them, into my mouth in passing.

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4. Spit them out.

This one comes in especially handy in the early stages of practicing kid leftover willpower. Because it’s still a mindless habit in the beginning. After you’ve made the decision to cut back on bites, licks, and tastes from the kids’ plates, you might still accidentally toss a cold, slimy mini corn dog into your mouth without thinking. But once it passes your lips, you’ll instantly snap to attention.  Like, whoops! What did I just do?

You have 2 options: 1) finishing chewing and swallowing, or 2) spit it out!  It will serve you much better to go with the latter. Not just because of calories and fitness or weight loss goals, either.  But also because there’s no way that mushy corn dog is a 10.  Meaning 10/10, would recommend.  I guarantee it’s gross, cold, and stale.  That goes for anything that’s sitting on their plates for the ungodly amount of time it takes them to not eat their food.

When it looks worth it, but it’s not

Sometimes I will consciously make the decision to take this bite or that (usually sweets like doughnuts or cinnamon sugar toast), then instantly regret it when I realize it’s not as satisfying or tasty as I thought it would be. That crap gets hard and stale in a hurry. Even after a few chews, I open the trash and patooey! Out of my mouth it goes, and off of my food log it remains.

5. Reward yourself later.

I like to remind myself as I’m reaching for any unnecessary, “unplanned” snack or treat to remember the payout.  If I can hold off now, when I’m usually triggered toward the pantry by whiny kids, or dishing out sweet, crunchy animal crackers for them, those calories roll themselves right into a proper snack or indulgence later on. For a happier time when I can fully and thoughtfully savor my food rather than poke it down and barely even taste or enjoy it.

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This is usually after the kids are asleep for the night for me.  My days are all business with getting the kids what they need and where they need to go, and my 2 hours of kid-free time at the end of the day are for me. If I want a big snack and/or dessert, I want to leisurely prepare and enjoy it without dealing with kidterruptions, tantrums over socks, or ass-wiping.

Reward tactics and ideas

Sometimes I pre-log my dessert so I know what I’ve got to work with the rest of the day leading up to it. But oftentimes I don’t. I just keep in mind that if I say no to this random 30 calories, that unnecessary 50 calories, and the 100 calories of leftovers on the kids’ plates, my snacks and treats later on can be much more epic.

RELATED POST: Eat Dessert, Lose Weight: My Macro-Friendly Treats

Try pre-logging or simply setting aside a snack or treat as a “reward” for staying away from the cold, mushy, previously licked, two-hour old cinnamon sugar toast.  Knowing ahead of time exactly what you will enjoy later, which will be 1000x tastier than a crusty cold pizza roll, will help you exercise your willpower throughout the day.

It doesn’t have to be one huge snack or treat, either. Maybe if you get through the morning you can have a square of chocolate with your afternoon coffee.  Then if you make it through the afternoon and dinner time you can enjoy some ice cream.  Whatever it is, make it something that motivates you to say no to the junky kid leftovers.  This way you have control over what you put in your mouth and can make your indulgences align with your weight loss and fitness goals.

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The truth about willpower

You can strengthen it

Willpower is a muscle that can be trained. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.  You’re not gonna quit the cold mac and cheese cold turkey and nail it 100% of the time right off the bat.  But, it will get easier to toss leftover cheesy poofs and smooshed remains of cupcake as time goes on.  To partake or not becomes a conscious, thoughtful decision rather than an automatic, mindless grazing.

But sometimes it will be weak

Just like a muscle, willpower can also be strained and fatigued. Giving into unplanned food, treats, and drinks happens!  No need to beat yourself up about it, though.  No need to carry any guilt.  But you do need to carry on. Make your next choice one that supports your goals.  One bite, lick, or taste isn’t going to make or break you, but you must move on.

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Lessen your BLTs and see results!

With the tips above, I hope you can begin to overcome the bites, licks, and tastes of your kids’ food, too!  In my Instagram stories, I keep a diary of my daily meals, drinks, and snacks.  Check it out for ideas on what to eat to keep a nice balance of healthy and junky on the way to reaching your own fitness goals.

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your kid's food could be sabotaging your weight loss goals
My postpartum fitness journey progress as a stay-at-home mom of 2 littles, surrounded by junky kid leftovers that could easily sabotage my weight loss goals

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