How do I stop eating my kid’s leftovers?
If you’re not a parent, you have no idea how difficult it is to resist your kid’s leftovers…
But, as a parent, you know all too well how a half-eaten cheeseburger on your kid’s plate isn’t just a half-eaten cheeseburger…
…it’s a tractor beam with the force of a thousand magnets pulling you in.
You know you don’t want it, and it doesn’t even look good. But still, you feel powerless to stop it. You take a bite, but you can’t help but feel bad about it. And as you take another, and another, you feel worse and worse. It’s enough to drive you mad.
So, if you’re asking, “How do I stop eating my kid’s leftovers?” Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
Today is the day you take control of the situation, stop feeling guilty, and keep your fork firmly planted on your side of the table.
Set yourself up for success and win the battle over your kid’s leftovers when you follow these three tips.
Tip One: Stop, step back, and look at the big picture.
You fix your kid a plate, but they only eat part of it. With what’s left, you pick and nibble at it till it’s gone.
Parents constantly tell me, “Eating my kid’s leftovers is something I do without even realizing it.”
And as a father of two young boys, I get it. It’s mindless eating. It’s as if we’re hypnotized and don’t realize what we’re doing or how much “extra” food we’re eating.
And when mindless eating is getting the best of you, we need to stop, pay attention, and shine some light on the problem.
So, here’s the exercise I want you to do:
For one week, instead of eating your child’s leftovers, save what you would have eaten in a Tupperware container.
Every meal. Every day. For one whole week.
And at the end of the week, I want you to take out the food container and see just how much extra food you would have eaten. When you do, I’m confident you’ll be shocked by what you see.
But when you’re confronted with the truth of just how much food you’re adding to your day, the way you see the problem starts to change…
And that’s when you discover that losing weight doesn’t require superhuman willpower or hour-long workouts. And that sometimes the easiest way to trim down is sticking to your own plate.
Tip Two: Focus on one meal and win it.
Saying you’ll “reorganize your house” is a massive and overwhelming goal, but “reorganizing your sock drawer” is specific and doable.
Saying you’ll “exercise more” can mean anything and nothing at the same time, but “taking a 10-minute walk after work” is specific and doable.
The problem with parents promising that they’ll “stop eating their kid’s leftovers” is that they never get specific about when or how they’ll make it happen.
Instead, they leave it ambiguous. And in doing that, they’re leaving everything up to chance, hoping they’ll be motivated when the moment comes.
But the evidence on changing behavior is clear: if you make a specific plan for when and what you’ll do, you’ll be more likely to follow through. (3)
The more well-defined your goal is, the more motivated you’ll be to achieve it. On the other hand, if a goal is too vague, it’ll feel so big and intimidating that you won’t even start.
Instead of saying you’ll “stop eating your kid’s leftovers,” decide when and how you’re going to do that.
Here’s an exercise to help you get specific. (Just fill in the blanks.)
Today, at [MEAL], I Will [TAKE THESE ACTIONS] to make sure I skip my kid’s leftovers.
And the best part is that when you get specific and solve the challenges you’ll face in that single meal, you’ll have the start of a plan to tackle all of the other meals.
Tip Three: Know that it’s NEVER about the food.
Let’s say you’re having dinner with your family. You were the first to finish your meal, and now you have to wait for everyone else. So what do you do?
What typically happens is that you try to convince yourself that you aren’t going to start on your kid’s leftovers…
Then, after about ten minutes of internal debate, you give up, pick up your fork, and reach across the table. You weren’t hungry. After all, you just ate an entire meal…
So, what exactly happened here?
Take it from someone who’s been there. The problem usually boils down to one of two things 1.) you ate your dinner too fast or 2.) it became evident that eating what’s left was easier than not doing it.
Let’s start with the problem of eating too quickly.
A lot of people eat their food too fast. Hey, sometimes I’m the same way. But, the issue we run into is that we’re not giving our bodies enough time to feel satisfied. So, despite the fact that we just ate an entire dinner, we’re still hungry.
And that’s because it takes about 20 minutes for our bodies to feel full once we start eating. (4)
So if you find that you’re eating your kid’s leftovers because you’re still hungry, the answer is to slow down.
Take smaller bites. Chew longer. Put your fork down between bites. Drink sips of water. Check in with yourself every few minutes to note how hungry or full you feel…
The point is we need to give our body a chance to do what it has to do before we go snatching fries from our kid’s plate.
Now let’s talk about why eating leftovers is easier than not eating them.
Even when you’re full, it’s natural to reach for leftovers when you don’t have much else to do…
That’s because when we’re bored, stressed, or worried, we tend to eat to fill the void. It’s the definition of emotional eating, and it’s what so many of us do to suppress and cope with negative and uncomfortable feelings.
And the truth is that these emotions can (and do) affect what, when, and how much we eat. (5)
But we don’t have to eat because we’re bored. A little boredom is okay.
I know it’s uncomfortable, but it’s normal. We’ll feel uncomfortable when we start changing our eating habits. In fact, it’s good that we experience some discomfort from time to time because discomfort is the tell-tale sign that we’re doing something other than the default.
And I understand that it takes courage to sit with and feel the discomfort of negative emotions. I get it. But courage is the very habit we want to develop.
Because when you have the courage to face changes to your eating habits, what else is there to stop you?
Those are the three best strategies for winning the battle over your child’s leftovers.
If you need any help putting these strategies in place, we offer one-on-one coaching and personalized plans for long-term, sustainable success. To find out how just click this link.