We recommend introducing the concept of ‘sometimes food’. These are the treats, snacks, dessert etc, that you don’t want your children to become dependent on or accustomed to having every day. When a child asks you for a candy bar you simply say, “That’s a ‘sometimes food’. It tastes good but it doesn’t help our body to grow healthy and strong.”
If you, as a family, are having dessert, you will eat dinner then have dessert. We don’t recommend forcing children to eat all their food to get dessert. When you as an adult have made a dessert or are having a party you plan to eat less, not more, to accommodate the dessert. When I am out to a restaurant, I often think that I will save some of my dinner for lunch tomorrow and have dessert tonight.
Most families have found that when they talk about ‘sometimes food’ children take easily to the concept and it solves many of their food challenges around sweets. This is a very strong tool that is relatively easy and works well for families. It avoids viewing food as a reward or punishment and helps children to look at food as a way to power their body.