Are your kids eating too much dessert?

Mrs. Obama unveiled
a nutrition initiative south of the border a few weeks ago.  Its purpose is to combat the growing problem
of childhood obesity.  One point really spoke
to me.  Mrs. Obama recommends that dessert
become a once a week treat rather than after every meal.  I couldn’t agree more.

When did
dessert become so common place anyway? The cult of dessert for grownups must
have begun when coffee houses and dessert places started popping up all over
the universe.  I remember this place in
the
Monkland Village called Franny’s that I would
frequent with friends.  That is where I
learned about cheesecake.  Before the
coffee places it was the donut shops but we knew that was junk food and didn’t eat
it regularly.  We just hung out here.

When I was
a kid we never had dessert on a daily basis.
We were considered lucky if we even got it once a week.  It is so strange to me that my kids demand
dessert every night of the week.  I am
not really sure when this started happening but it is so irritating.  I really don’t get it.  I still think of dessert as a once in a while
thing.  My mom used to occasionally bake
mandel bread. (Here’s a great mandel bread recipe from Norene Gilletz) My
mother’s mandel bread was terrible.  It
was as hard as a rock and could be used a weapon.  It would sit there on the counter for a week
unless my father would devour it.  Maybe
my mother was using a tactic to turn her kids off dessert!  At some point, my brother and I told her to
add triple the chocolate chips and then we had no problem eating it.

March 2010 001I do not
know where my kids learned about dessert.
I am guessing it comes from the TV.
We can pretty much blame anything on TV right, so why not blame bad
eating habits on it.  There’s enough food
and snack commercials plus cartoons and live action shows depicting desserts.  If you see it enough I suppose it just
becomes the norm.  I am guessing that’s
what happened with the kids unless they picked up the habit at someone’s house (maybe at Grandma Toby’s?).

The
question now becomes what do I do about it?
Here are my techniques.  First I
use the tried and true “if you don’t finish your supper then I will think you
are not hungry and won’t offer you any dessert.” Once that strategy has been
employed I use some trickery.  I keep
Chapman’s frozen yogurt in my freezer (It’s the least offensive frozen treat
that I have found) and tell the kids that it is ice cream.  They can take a ½ cup after they are finished
supper.  Of course if I have done my
calculations right and I realize they haven’t eaten enough fruits or vegetables
during the day, I will insist they have a fruit before a dessert.  Other tried and true methods are the “eat as
much as you want” trick.  I find this strategy
great for teaching kids how to manage the serving sizes of sweet foods.  I have on occasion let my kids take as much
as they want of a dessert.  You can
imagine the excessively large portion size a kid with big eyes will take.  At some point during the exercise my sons
have turned to me looking a bit green, and said that their tummies hurt and
cannot eat anymore. I have observed that the next time they go for that same
dessert they self monitor their portion.
Trevor sometimes enjoys chocolate for dessert.  I allow him to potion out some chocolate
chips and he seems pretty satisfied.  My
baby (almost 2 year old Ian) is starting to want dessert too.  I have asked Trevor to give Ian an
appropriate serving size of chocolate chips or ‘ice cream’.  I am impressed to say that Trevor knows the
right amount to give his brother.  Jason (middle
child) thinks that sugarless gum is the greatest food on earth.  Surprisingly, he is quite satisfied when I
give him a stick of gum and tell him that is his dessert.  I write all this to say that it boils down to
moderation.  I seriously prefer Mrs.
Obama’s recommendation but would experience a mutiny in my house if I tried to
implement that one.

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