Sometimes, when I was a kid, I wanted to go directly to the dessert without finishing my plate. My mother told me that I needed to finish my plate if I wanted to eat my dessert. The intention was good because I had good things on my plate, like vegetables. However, I see a problem about this approach.
The big problem is that we eat too much in general in the North American society. Even if we eat good food, overeating eventually makes us gain weight. In addition, we are tempted by desserts and other fatty and sugary foods. If you offer the choice to children between a plate full of vegetables and the dessert, they will choose the dessert. We are conditioned to eat dessert after the main meal.
Children do not usually choose the amount of food they put on their plate. Their parents decide this amount according to their best judgement. Obviously, it’s always a little difficult to determine the amount of food that another person needs. Many people have difficulty determining their caloric intake for themselves. Imagine for someone else who is growing up. This is changing all the time.
Tempt a child with a delicious dessert at the end of the main meal. In his meal, serve him a greater amount of food that he needs. It is likely that at the end of his meal, he is going to decide not to finish it to keep some space for dessert. Often, the temptation to eat the dessert is so great that the child will eat everything, even if he is not hungry. This may happen if you force him to eat everything. Children end up overeating and gaining weight. We also have observed an increase in obesity among young people.
We need to change this pattern and also how the children eat.
First solution: Cut off the desserts. I know it is not easy for many, but this is often difficult because we have been accustomed from the childhood. A good habit to develop that I have adopted for me: eating dessert only on weekends and in modest quantity.
Second solution: Teach the child to serve himself and determine his food portions. I believe that children should learn to identify the good portions according to his hunger. Less is better than too much. If at the end of his plate he is still hungry, so he may serve again to complete. This is the way to learn.
Finally, the application of these two solutions at the same time is recommended. With good habits, the child will not be tempted to overeat just to have dessert. Even if the dessert is only once a week, young people will probably appreciate as much because it is not the quantity that counts, but the quality.