Parents Eat 156 Meals Standing Up Every Year, a Stat That’ll Surprise Zero Parents

updated Sep 30, 2020
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On Sunday, I asked my sister where my bro-in-law was taking her for Mother’s Day lunch. “I’m not sure,” she said. “I just hope they have chairs.” Last week was her first back at work after having her second daughter and, since January, pretty much every meal she’s had — and ‘meal’ is a relative term here — has been eaten one-handed while she swayed side-to-side trying to calm a fussy infant.

And according to a new survey, a lot of parents are right there with her. (“OF COURSE WE ARE,” five thousand of you just shouted at your computer screens.) OnePoll asked 2,000 parents about their eating habits and you’re all so busy, distracted, and rushed that during an average year, you eat around 156 meals standing up. That’s 52 days’ worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that you’re hurriedly inhaling while you, like, lean over the kitchen sink.

Parents Put Their Kids’ Health Before Their Own, Duh

Some of the other food-related results of the survey, which was conducted on behalf of Jenny Craig, aren’t going to surprise any of you, because you’re probably reading this while a toddler leans unsteadily against your leg. More than half (57%) of parents say their kids have healthier diets than they do, and 62% of moms said they put their family’s health — including their pets — ahead of their own. On average, parents spend around 27 hours a week on “basic parenting tasks” like cooking or shuttling the kids to school or extracurricular activities. That’s at a minimum: moms, on average, spend another nine hours doing family-related tasks.

“We can see from the data that parents, especially moms, are often sacrificing their own health and wellness in favor of taking care of their family,” Monty Sharma, Jenny Craig’s president and CEO said. “It is critical for weight loss and healthy eating programs to respect the lack of time that parents have today. We must provide them with plans that are simple in design and take the extra work out of healthy eating.”

Making Healthy Food Choices Are Usually Thought of as Inconvenient

More than three-quarters (77%) of parents surveyed admitted that trying to make healthy food choices was “inconvenient,” and the same percentage said that it could be challenging to get their families to eat healthy. (We would’ve loved to see some additional explanation for what that meant, what the challenges were, and what “eating healthy” looks like to the average American family — so feel free to tell us in the comments!)

“Think of the little things you can do every day to contribute to your overall health,” Dr. Pamela Peeke, assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said. “Find outside support to help you plan healthy meals and to achieve your health and wellness goals. Schedule daily self-care and make it a routine part of your schedule, just as you would any other appointment. Make that commitment to yourself for you and for your family.”

Dr. Peeke is right, but you moms and dads know that’s a lot easier to say than to do. But those healthy meals are important for everyone in the fam — even if you’re the one who’ll have to eat them standing up.