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Eating Off Kid's Plates: The Fourth Meal

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Who eats the crust of his sandwiches, the left over mac n' cheese at the bottom of the bowl, a few pieces of diced chicken or cheese here and there? I do. And there in lies my theory on the fourth meal -- a meal that is not meant to be had, but is by millions of mothers across this great nation.

macaroni and cheese

Christina Montoya Fiedler: Yes, these are the small bites of uneaten food from your child's plate, but together they add up to a caloric total that could be called a full meal.

I came to this conclusion as I zipped up my jeans. How could they still be snug if I was dieting and exercising?? I wasn't even aware I was eating extra food. I was too consumed with the cuteness of my messy-faced munchkin during feeding time to realize what I was putting in my mouth.

It's not that I don't have will power. I do. It's more that I am mindlessly eating. We all do it. Guaranteed someone's reading this right now, and putting that chip back into the bag. And if you're not a stay at home mom, most likely you do it at work. A few cookies from that 2 PM meeting, a handful of jellybeans from a co-workers desk. Hey, it happens.

But, here's what I did about it. I started keeping a food journal. Every bite of food I ate, I wrote down. On the first day, I wrote down everything I would typically eat in a day, to see the real damage. As suspected, whatever my kid ate, I ate -- a fourth meal. As the days went on, I still kept the list, but watched as it got smaller and smaller.

Things are better now, I'm back to my three meals a day. How about you? Are you a victim of the dreaded fourth meal?

next: The ADHD-Sleep Connection
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
PhotoJoe December 12, 2009, 11:57 AM

” a meal that is not meant to be had, but is by millions of mothers across this great nation.”

… millions of mothers and fathers …

I suspect the 4th meal was a big part of the weight-gain I had managed after the birth of my first child. I now plan my serving sized base upon the assumption that I’ll eat half of what was put onto the plates of my two boys.

MarMar December 14, 2009, 6:29 AM

Anymore, I am doing the same as PhotoJoe…my boyfriend sees the small serving on my plate and worries I don’t have enough, but then once I scarf down whatever my daughter doesn’t eat, I have a decent meal. :-)

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