Why Having a Toddler Made Me Eat More (and Not Better)

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I thought a lot of things before I had children. With three boys, ages 15, 12 and 6, I know better now. (And with a teenager, I have a feeling my toughest lessons are still to come!) One of the things I heard was, "How on earth can a toddler's mother be overweight? Chasing her kid should keep her skinny!" To be fair, I never said it, because it's mean as all git-out, but it made a little bit of sense. Until I had toddlers.

First of all, that chasing thing is sort of a myth. Toddlers are slow, forcing their parents to move at a snail's pace. I used to speed walk from place to place, but those days were over. Many toddlers reach an age where they don't want to go in the stroller any more. Maybe you can force them, but then you get those judging looks from other parents, wondering why you won't let your toddler have any exercise. Also, the screaming can be hard to endure.

I did find myself doing some heavy lifting. I won't say which child, but one of my boys helped me perfect my hauling-away-an-infuriated-ball-of-toddler hold. My tip: Hold them with their legs facing away from your body (so you won't get kicked), and use one arm to gently, but firmly restrain their arms, with your other arm under their legs, like a chair. And do not be embarrassed. This too shall pass, and all that.

And maybe you swore you would never do "kid food." And maybe you didn't. But I did, and I know I'm not alone. Herein lies the problem. I hate to waste. No matter how kid-friendly a food is, toddlers will walk away from it when they are full, bored or simply distracted. And I will eat it. I might even try to snag some of their snack when they aren't looking, because toddler parents are often tired and hungry, even hungrier if they are breastfeeding the toddler, a new baby or both. Besides, whether or not you serve it at home, your kids will be offered all sorts of snacks in the big, wide world. And I can't resist a free snack.

My body needs protein before — and with — anything else I eat. Often, my toddlers would eat the turkey, cheese or smoked tofu, leaving me with the cheddar bunnies, which I could not resist. (Those things are expensive, and pretty darn delicious.) And let's not even talk about the birthday cake, which had been absent from my diet for many years, suddenly reappearing with a vengeance. Sometimes I even took one for the team, eating the cake to stop my children from consuming the whole thing themselves.

Did you find yourself snacking or eating more when you had a toddler? Any tips for combating the finish-the-plate syndrome? 

(Images: Anne Postic)