If there's anything Americans love more than fad diets, it's cheating on their fad diets. But why not combine both into one foolproof system? The latest and greatest diet program sure to sweep the nation is one of my own invention: the Stuff Your Kid Has Thrown On The Floor Diet. Let's face it, my fellow parents of small children, we're all already quietly packing away our kids' leavings--it's a sin to waste that discarded chicken à la king or braised rutabaga just because your child has the palate of a philistine (or of your spouse). But now you can get in your illicit food-shoveling in as the staple of your new diet!
Of course, if you're looking to lose some lingering baby weight, this may not be the plan for you; my kids appear to throw enough food on the floor to feed an army, assuming that army really likes Cheerios. But if you're still on board, let's lay out the ground rules for your daily consumption of discarded floor food:
Rule 1: You eat only what hits the floor under your kid's high chair during meals and snack times.
This mostly only works for the parents of toddlers, unless your older child is a really messy eater. Bonus: it cuts way back on food waste.
Rule 2: You must serve the child the same size meals he was getting before you went on this diet.
It doesn't count anymore if you put two full-sized peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on his high chair tray and, oh shucks, he dropped one on the floor. That is cheating and it will not be tolerated in these parts.
Rule 3: You must choose foods to serve your child regardless of what you are currently craving.
A hot fudge sundae is not an appropriate breakfast for your two-year-old. (... Is it? I'm, um, asking for a friend.)
Rule 4: You must compete with the family pet for your meals.
If the dog is faster than you, the dog is getting that pizza crust the toddler is currently waving in the air. Healthy living means incorporating an exercise routine into your lifestyle, right? Now you can work your speed, your agility, and your ability to put a wrestling hold on the family's 90-pound sheepdog.
Rule 5: The five-second rule does not exist.
It's not as if germs actually politely hold back for five seconds before invading a discarded bread crust, out of some microscopic sense of fair play. Scarfing your toddler's leavings too quickly will give you indigestion. On the other hand, don't eat things that have been lying around too long--that fossilized apple slice is not worth the tooth damage.
Rule 6: You may eat anything still left on the child's plate or tray at the end of the meal.
It doesn't have to actually hit the floor--if you wait long enough, everything becomes fair game. But you're not allowed to end the meal two minutes in just to get at that sweet, sweet untouched pile of chicken nuggets and Kraft Easy Mac.
Rule 7: You don't have to eat everything that's dropped on the floor if you don't want it.
Your toddler doesn't want to eat those mushy asparagus spears you made, you don't want to eat those mushy asparagus spears you made, even the dog doesn't want to eat those mushy asparagus spears you made. That's why compost heaps were invented. And trash cans.
(Image Kali Nine LLC / Getty)