It’s every toddler mom’s unknown nightmare. Children are born knowing to stop eating when they are no longer hungry. As a result, little bites of food get left behind. While you clear the plates, you take one little bite of their food.
Maybe you work in an office, and every day is someone’s birthday (or so it seems!), and the office break room has a constant supply of doughnuts, cake, cookies. There’s also probably at least one candy dish somewhere in that office. The chocolate candy is your favorite, so you grab a piece as you walk by.
Or perhaps you’re a a stay at home/work from home mom, with constant access to the kitchen. You happen to walk by the kitchen and see an opened box of crackers, so you reach in and take just a couple.
Little bites here and there, can be completely harmless. I mean, it’s just a bite or two, right? And you’re eating healthy the rest of the day, so it’s okay, right? So why is the scale moving so slow (or worse yet – in the wrong direction)? Mindless snacking seems so completely harmless, that half of the time, we don’t even realize we are doing it. A bite here and there becomes second nature so it hits our mouth before we even had a chance to consider it. Leftover bites are the easiest to justify – you were raised not to waste food. If you don’t eat it, perfectly good food will go into the garbage. (And that mom’s voice of “There are children in Africa starving!” is echoing in the back of your head).
This post is going to get a little mathematical today, but I want to show you how those “little bites” can add up and cause long-term weight loss.
First of all, there are 3,500 calories in 1 pound. So in order to lose (or gain) a pound, you have to expend (or eat) 3,500 calories of energy.
How it adds up: Meet “Judy”
Let’s just say Judy is eating at maintenance level (meaning, Judy is eating at her body’s calorie requirements to maintain your weight, including any activity). For Judy’s height and weight, she requires 2,000 calories per day. If she is doing this perfectly, in one year Judy will be exactly the same weight she is today.
Now, let’s put Judy in charge of raising a toddler, Noah. Noah is a picky eater, and prone to leaving food unfinished. Without thinking, Judy will take a few bites of his snacks every day, and in doing so, she eats an extra 100 calories each day. She is still eating her other 2,000 calories, and her activity level remains the same. In one year, Judy will weigh 10.42 pounds more than she does today. In five years, Judy will be 52.1 lbs heavier.
An extra 100 calories each day equals 10.42 pounds a year. In order to burn off 100 calories, you’d have to walk about a mile. Following that logic, you’d have to walk 365 miles to burn off those 10.42 pounds! That’s pretty staggering!
I don’t want to be like Judy! Now what?
So how do you combat these “little bites”? Here are some suggestions:
1) Make a visual for yourself. Is your biggest temptation in the kitchen? Make a sign for your pantry/refrigerator.
2) Think before you take each unplanned bite. Is this bite going to help your journey or stall it?
3) Stop worrying about wasting food. The children in Africa aren’t going to get your leftovers. If you are truly concerned, make a monetary donation instead.
4) Make controlled decisions and plans. Ultimately, you are in control of what you consume. If your Aunt Edna is going to be offended if you don’t eat her birthday cake, you probably already know this in advance. Make a plan for success (ie. eat a single bite, push the cake around for a minute, and discard the rest. Then work that cake into your eating/exercise agenda in advance).