The Surprising Dessert Advice One Dietitian Gives For Kids

Every parent wants their child to eat their veggies. It's important for young people to get all the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber they need in their diet to help them grow, but, as many parents know, some children can be very picky about what's on their plate. That's why Registered Dietitian Serena Ball took to the Food Network to help parents get their little ones eat a little healthier, without fighting over food.

One of the biggest changes she suggests making is to not only feed your children dessert once a day, but to serve it first. While this may seem backwards to many of us, who were told we had to eat our veggies and finish our plate before having dessert, Ball explains, "dessert is always served with the meal; this way, if kids choose to eat it first, they still have a chance to stop eating when they are full, even if it means eating less veggies" (via the Food Network). And she is not alone with this practice.

Serving children dessert with their meal can help them learn to self-regulate their food

Registered Dietitian Abbey Sharp told Self she practices a similar method of feeding her children dessert along with the rest of the meal. By forcing kids to wait to eat dessert, it reinforces the idea that healthy, veggie-filled meals should be rushed through and not enjoyed, while sweet desserts and sugar-laden goodies are rewards that come with a side helping of gluttony and guilt, she explains. Instead, serving all their food together helps children to self-regulate their mealtimes and prevent overeating.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also recommends allowing children to "regulate their food and beverage intake — to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Based on this approach, adults determine the specific foods and beverages offered to children but their responsibility ends there. Children decide whether to eat, what to eat, and how much to consume."

Bell also characterizes dessert as anything sweet, so serving fruit or yogurt with honey can be a great dessert option that is also healthy. These tasty treats can help satisfy your child's sweet tooth without overloading them with processed foods. She also recommends letting kids get involved in the kitchen, teaching them how to cook and bake alongside you. This will help them feel in control of their meals, while getting them interested in recipes and trying different kinds of foods, thus giving them a happy, healthy relationship with food for life.