I love desserts and sweets. When I am out for a fancy dinner my eyes go to two areas on the menu – appetizers and desserts.
I am sure you have all seen Ernestine Ulmer’s quote, “Life is uncertain, Eat dessert first” in bakeries and on cute little signs found in those quaint, hidden boutiques. Heck, go onto Pinterest right now and I bet you will this quote pinned onto someone’s board. There is something to be said about the power of desserts.
When I was a kid, my mother would often come home with a surprise for me, a pack of Oreo cookies. They were, and still are, my favorite cookie. My mom would let me eat those cookies whenever I wanted – sometimes even before dinner. We didn’t have a ton of food rules in my house. She trusted me and knew that I would make the right food choices and she was right, I often did make the right food choices. I would only eat a few cookies and sweets didn’t consume my every thought. I enjoyed those Oreos just as much as I enjoyed the fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and kohlrabi from my Dad’s garden.
Today, I continue that same tradition with my boys, often surprising them with a pack of Oreo cookies every now and then. In my house, sweets are allowed, food is not a reward and dessert is an everyday occasion. I know many of you out there are frowning at me right now. Maybe even thinking in your head that I am a bad mom. That’s OK. I know my stance on desserts isn’t for everyone.
In fact, I recently had this debate with two of my closest friends. One of my friends stated that her parents often gave dessert to her and her sister and she believes this is why they both crave sweets now constantly as adults. Whereas my other friend was kind of neutral about it all. She will give desserts if it is there but doesn’t make a point of it.
I know there is a ton of concern today about childhood obesity and I totally get it. I work in healthcare and I see the effects of obesity everyday. But, it is a myth to believe that sugar and sugar alone makes you fat. A cookie or a small bowl of ice cream isn’t going to make you fat. Studies in the Encyclopedia of Nutrition and Good Health state that sugar is not the leading cause of obesity. In fact, your body needs sugar. The brain needs glucose to function properly and it’s only natural for kids (and adults) to seek out sweets.
When you think about it, lots of parents out there force their kids to eat their veggies, finish their fruit and drink their milk or water. I wonder if those same parents have to force their children to finish their desserts or eat their sweets? Kids tend to place value on desserts and sweets because they are often deprived of them. Maybe if we stop making desserts and sweets such a big deal, and stop using it as a reward, kids would be more likely to indulge in other foods – like fresh fruit and vegetables?
I am not an expert. I am a mom. I have two boys who love to eat fruits and vegetables. We are regulars at our produce store and people crack up when they see my kids throwing their favorite fruits and veggies into the cart. They request things like edamame, carrots, salads and apples freely. Yet, they also eat dessert everyday.
I am trying to change the value that food has in my house. You all remember my post about emotional eating and M&M’s, right? Just like I am trying to control my emotional eating, I am also letting my boys know it’s OK to like sweets. Sweets make us feel good and help to release endorphins and they don’t have to feel guilty for wanting them. At the same time, I am trying to convey the message that everything can be enjoyed – in moderation.
My boys are not eating bowls of sugar or walking around like sugar junkies but they are eating dessert …with a cherry on top!
Tell me what you think? Are you giving out dessert in your house? Is it an everyday thing or once in a while?