It’s no secret that sugar is evil (but soooo yummy). If your kids are anything like mine they overloaded on it yesterday for Easter. My husband and I try to do what we can to limit their consumption which is why years ago we came up with one easy way of doing so.
We found ourselves exhausted with nightly requests for dessert after dinner so we implemented “Dessert Thursday.”
We assumed our kids (especially our oldest) would fight this because they had gotten used to dessert more than once per week but they just went with the rule nary a complaint!
The house rule goes that Thursday is the one day per week that they get dessert but only if they finish their dinner. It didn’t take them long to figure out that we try all of our “new” meals on Thursdays which encourages them to try to expand their palates beyond their kid-friendly favorites. On occasion we don’t plan ahead and have something like pizza or hamburgers on Thursday and when they discover this you would have thought we just announced a family trip to Disney World by their excitement. “We’re having tacos on Dessert Thursday? NO WAY!!!!”
We also have a small chalkboard in our kitchen with their names on it. They earn a tick mark for every dinner they eat entirely. When they get to five points they have earned an extra dessert. This really helps encourage them to finish their meals. They’re kids though and if it’s a meal they truly despise the promise of a tick mark will not be enough of an incentive for them to choke down their dinner. But they definitely think twice before rejecting it if they look at the board and see that they’ve accumulated four points.
It is well known that we prepare one meal per night that everyone eats together and the kitchen is closed afterwards until morning. So if they choose not to eat their dinner they will likely eat a big breakfast the next day because there is no snacking after the kitchen is closed.
Like many families, we do have the one bite per year they are old rule before they can ask permission to leave the table. This helps to ensure they are getting the calories they need to grow. At minimum our youngest will get five bites of the main course (as he is five years old) and we always pair new foods with side dishes that the kids enjoy to help that cause.
I will say that our children are for the most part pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new foods. It doesn’t take too much urging for them to try at least one bite to see if they like something unfamiliar. I honestly think it’s because of Dessert Thursday!