It's tempting to tell a child to finish their main meal before eating their dessert. After all, if he's still hungry, why isn't he eating his vegetables?
The idea of giving dessert only when the child has finished his plate is not new. For several generations, parents and children have heard this famous refrain and its cousin " If you don't eat your vegetables, you will be deprived of dessert". But even if we have heard it for a long time, is it really reasonable to blackmail at the table? And anyway, is it effective?
The plates of yesteryear
First, let's talk about a subject that is rarely talked about, but which deserves an overview: portions. Previous generations, including ours, did not have portions as generous as those of today. We notice it a lot in the restaurant. It is not uncommon for an adult plate to contain enough food on it to feed an adult and a child. Consequently, the children's plate often contains enough to feed a man. Under these conditions, asking a child to finish his plate before having a dessert is clearly exaggerated. Besides, the dessert, will he have to eat it all?also?
To better gauge the needs, you can see the nutritional needs of children his age and convert them into "bites", which will give you an idea of what he needs. Once this is done, you can more easily plan meals of the right size, salvage uneaten food, and avoid forcing him to eat just because it was paid for or "not to waste".
Besides, we must agree on the definition of dessert: there is a huge difference between a dessert consisting of cakes, cookies and sweets, the consumption of which must be moderated, and a dessert consisting of fruit and vegetables, dairy products (yogurt, cheese, milk), whole grains (muffins), etc. A dessert that is an integral part of the food groups is even a necessity in the diet of children, so they should not be deprived of it!
For the sake of children, food should not be used as currency. It's not a reward you give after great successes, it's not something you deserve and it's never something to negotiate. Eating is simply a need. By blackmailing and forcing children to eat foods that are said to be "he althy", they risk seeing these foods as punishment or something less valuable.
In addition, by dictating theoretical quantities to them, parents go against thenatural hunger and satiety reflexes that children must be able to recognize in order to meet their needs in a he althy way.
By the way, what's on this plate?
Some kids are more choosy than others. Moreover, several recent articles have reported this ugly reflex that parents have of giving children kibble and mac and cheese in order to avoid talking to them about food. For your child to get used to new flavors, the good reflex is not to impose a full plate on them or always bend to their whims, but to offer them appropriate meals.
When you are going through a more difficult eating period, make smaller portions of several flavors and choose yogurt or fruit desserts. By focusing on fresh and nutritious foods, you will ensure that each bite provides part of the daily servings recommended for the good growth of your child.
Meals that go better than others
Sometimes when we're at the table, the children are in a good mood, they want to talk and eat while it's your turn to talk. Generally, these meals go rather well and the plates are emptied faster. Good humor and happy conversations are always best during meals.
On the other hand, the heavy atmosphere, the stories of starving children, the price of food and the gossip about the neighbor's overweight have no placeseat at the table. If we want children to eat well, we don't want them to develop any discomfort with food. The ideal is rather to remember that they will not starve themselves, to offer them good food and to let their small stomachs have a jagged appetite without the systematically deprive of dessert.