When it comes to mealtimes, it can be a challenge for parents to encourage “picky-eating” toddlers to finish all their food. A survey conducted by Harris Poll in April on behalf of Nutrisystem revealed that 81% of mothers with children under the age of 18 admit to regularly eating off their children’s plates either before, during, or after a meal. Furthermore, 36% of parents admit to eating less healthily than they did prior to becoming a parent. The survey is a useful reminder of the dangers of snacking which can contribute to unhealthy eating habits.
The findings also reveal that it may be necessary for parents to reassess children’s portion sizes if they regularly leave food on their plates, as excessive portion sizes can be harmful for both toddlers’ weight and parents’ snacking habits. This conclusion echoes the lifestyle findings of our Big Conversation, which highlighted the difficulties parents face in providing consistency in what and how their children are fed. Other recommendations from the survey included:
- Be aware of how much and how often you and your toddler are eating. The Infant Toddler Forum has a useful portion size table for toddlers.
- Be more selective about the kind of food you are picking – an emphasis on choosing the leftover fruit and vegetables instead of the less healthy components
- Save the leftovers for another day – the food could be served later as a snack or as the next day’s meal option
We will continue to listen to the concerns of parents to promote healthy lifestyles for both mother and child.