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March 13, 2009


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I, too, grew up where dessert after dinner was the expectation. I can even remember one occasion when my dad left the table before eating dinner, upon learning that there was no dessert that night. (He didn't say so, but the implication to my young mind was that a meal wasn't complete without dessert.) I'm sure that was exceptional on a whole lot of levels, since my dad was also the epitome of courtesy and it strikes me now as more than a little rude -- very, VERY unlike him!

But desserts also weren't grand and huge -- they were served in modest proportions, and they were sweet without being fo the sticky, gooey variety.

My husband comes from a family where dessert of a sweet variety was a special occasion sort of thing only; regular dinners might have a fruit and cheese course with a cup of tea to finish with, but cake? pie? Nope. He and I clashed in the early years of our marriage over this, as the net effect was that a sweet dessert was served only on those occasions when you were probably going to overeat in the first place -- talk about adding insult to injury!

So maybe the answer is somewhere in between the two extremes. Not every night... but not only on the big feast occasions, either. Not as a bribe to finish your vegetables, but as a pleasant way to round out a meal, an excuse to linger at the dinner table for just a little while longer, enjoying pleasant conversation.

But I have to confess I have heard myself say, as I look down on a plate with vegetables that have been more played with than eaten, "Oh, I guess you're too full for dessert then!" It must be a mom thing -- wired into us at the time of childbirth!


Ah the desset question. One I think we have all struggled with. I too was served dessert every night and I looked forward to it. I think as a child I saw it as the light at the end of the tunnel when I wasn't crazy about the meal. I am no longer conviced that having to eat your dinner before getting dessert is a BAD thing. And if it gets a picky eater to try something new, even better!

I use to subscribe to the philosophy that our bodies know what we need and if we follow our natural eating patterns we will get the nutrition we need. Then I had my youngest daughter. Her natural eating pattern includes carbs and apples. Obviously that wasn't going to cut it.

I have come to find that a compromise works best for us. She has to eat her dinner (not all the food on her plate so to speak) but I also give small portions, especially what I know she doesn't like.

So give up dessert every night? I say not yet. It's a nice way to round out a meal and helps encourage kids to eat the foods they aren't to fond of.

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