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Today's Family Man > Columns > Today's Family Man

How to Avoid the Kids' Menu

Here's a report I could classify as a "No, duh." After almost nine years of living with at least one child, there is now a study to confirm one of the reasons I have steadily gained weight. The recent research coming out of the University of Iowa, says that adults who live with children consume more fat than those minus kids.

That makes sense, especially when you're eating in a restaurant. How often do we give in to ordering the meals that our kids will eat, which are frequently full of satisfying fat? And how many of us have finished that plate of chicken fingers after eating our own meal? Now that all this is confirmed, how do we keep our hands off that unfinished cheeseburger? Here are a few ways to show willpower and shed a couple of pounds:

Order Less
Simply order less food for yourself, knowing that you will have leftovers from the kiddies. If you get a burger, have them put the fruit on the side instead of the fries. You'll eat your kids' potatoes, but not in addition to the ones you would've eaten off your own plate.

Go Low Fat
Help teach good eating habits to your kids by ordering less fattening food for them - and for that matter, yourselves (since we're trying to be good role models). Some restaurants now serve grilled chicken strips and offer vegetables instead of the french fries. With that kind of fare on the tempting plate next to you, you'll be finishing off food with less calories.

Have Them Take It Away
Once your child loses interest in her meal (wait about five minutes since the last bite) and she's had what you think is enough, call the server over and have him take it away. No greasy temptation, no added calories. Don't even bring the food home. Otherwise, if you're like me, you'll be the one eating the cold leftovers at 11 p.m.

Stay Away From the Soda
It's not just the stuff you chew that packs on the pounds. It's finishing off the soda or blue-raspberry lemonade in that cute cup. Try going with the milk for your children (low- or non-fat) and, if you must sip some of their beverage, at least it'll be nutritious.

When In Doubt, Make It Disgusting
Your kids will love this one: Dump pepper, salt, or ketchup all over what's left. I mean, smother it (hopefully, this is not enticing to you). It will be fine to play with food and that should make the tempting morsels too disgusting to consider popping in your mouth.

Good luck and feel good about each time you refrain from eating the bad stuff. You'll save calories and teach your kids better eating habits along the way.

© 2007 Gregory Keer. All rights reserved.

Gregory Keer is a syndicated columnist, educator, and on-air expert on fatherhood. His Family ManTM column appears in publications such as L.A. Parent, Bay Area Parent, and Boston Parents' Paper. In addition to writing for Parenting magazine and the Parents' Choice Foundation, Keer publishes the online fatherhood magazine, He also contributes to USA Today, Pregnancy,, and Keer is a guest expert on television and radio and advisor to the Cartoon Network. He and his wife are the proud parents of three sons. Keer can be reached at For details on his parent coaching, go to

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