Language Around Sugar and Desserts

Friends, we say these things with GOOD intentions. We want what’s best for our kids. We want them to get the nutrition they need to grow and thrive. However, sometimes our language can be really counterproductive when raising competent eaters.

Here’s why “you have to eat your veggies to get a dessert” can backfire:

It teaches kids that dessert is amazing but veggies are something to be eaten through. When we put foods on a pedestal like that, we drive them away from certain foods {veggies} and can make them preoccupied with others that seem off-limits {sweets}. In reality, we want them to enjoy veggies AND dessert, not either/or.

Kids can learn to ignore hunger cues when we make them eat more than they might need. Sometimes they are waiting for a cookie they know will be served but haven’t eaten all their food because they want some room in their tummy. If we make them finish that food first, we can teach them to eat past their fullness cues and ignore what their body is saying.

We know what you’re thinking…”If I don’t do this, my kid will never eat vegetables.” Here are some tips:

  1. Try serving dessert WITH the meal next time. Sometimes plating it with dinner can take away that “special” element and help kids see it as just food.
  2. You get to decide what’s served - maybe you serve dessert with each dinner, or maybe it’s just a few times a week - this depends on how YOUR family normally eats. Instead of using it as a negotiation tactic, simply serve it if you were planning to serve it - regardless of how much your child ate for dinner. Avoid commenting on what was eaten, if they “should” be getting this or not...just enjoy your food and your family.

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