If Your Kids Get Dessert, Don’t Do This…

Hey there, Mamas! It seems like now days if you’re eating at a restaurant kids meals come with dessert. It doesn’t matter if they’re fast food or a sit-down restaurant – ice cream seems to follow. One thing I see far too often is parents forcing their child to finish their meal before being able to enjoy the special treat… and that’s a problem. 

Dessert after dinner can be a tricky issue.

Dessert after dinner can be a tricky issue.

Before you tell me how ludicrous that sounds – consider the following situation:

It’s your birthday. You and your family are at your favorite restaurant for dinner and dessert. By the time you sit down, you’re starving. After indulging in a slice or two of the delicious, warm bread, you take it easy once your food comes out. You’re looking forward to the dessert as well. You ask the waitress for a to-go box, even though you still have half your food left. To avoid an overstuffed feeling, you save the remaining half of your lunch for tomorrow and decide to enjoy the dessert tonight. (After all, calories don’t count on your birthday.)

Related: When “Kid-Friendly” Food Isn’t

In many cases, we don’t force ourselves to overeat dinner if we know we will be indulging in a treat later. We “save room,” but we expect our children to fit every bit of their healthy dinner and not-so-healthy dessert in their tiny bellies or we throw a fit… but then they throw a fit. Because they want ice cream. And why not? It’s yummy! It’s (hopefully) a special treat that they don’t get all the time. And it was promised to them at the start of the meal.

Related: Snacks versus Treats – What’s the Difference?

Your kids (in most cases) aren’t trying to be difficult. They’re trying to save room – and that’s a good thing! That means they are listening to their bodies about when they’re hungry and full. They don’t want to overeat to the point where they are uncomfortable and can’t move.

As parents trying to ensure that our children are well-nourished through their food, it’s easy to see the good intention that the force-eating is coming from. Ultimately, there are a few things we need to do to encourage the best nutrition for our kids.

  1. Trust our kids to listen to their bodies and let us know when they are full.
  2. Save desserts and other treats for special occasions so kids aren’t filling up on them all the time in place of healthier foods.
  3. Set a good example.

Related: Let Them Eat Cake!

Renowned  pediatric dietitian Ellyn Satter encourages offering dessert (if served) with the meal, instead of after. This way, kids can eat it before, during, or after the meal – but there are no seconds on dessert. If a child is still hungry, they can eat more “dinner food.” {See her article about it here.}

Tell me, Mamas: How do you handle dessert at your house?

Photo Credit:

Image courtesy of Ppiboon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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