Healthy Desserts for Kids

I definitely find a correlation between kids who are overweight and families who eat dessert on a regular basis. Over the years, so many of my clients have talked to me about how they can’t get their kids to lose some weight. For a number of parents, it’s a mystery why their kids are overweight.

I’ve been a personal training for over 25 years and spend a lot of time talking to my clients. I analyze their diets and lifestyle, and try to figure out why they are over weight. I try to determine what they can do to better control their weight. One thing that I have noticed is most families who have a weight problem, always eat dessert.

When I was a child my family only ate dessert on special occasions like holidays, birthday parties or when we had dinner guests. I followed suit with my own family. The only time my kids eat dessert is on special occasions. I know this is something that can be very hard for families to change, especially if you grew up eating dessert every night after dinner. But it sets the stage for overeating and weight gain.

Eating a high calorie dessert right after you just ate a full meal makes no sense. It’s surprising how someone can always find room for something sweet after a meal even if you’re full. Some of my clients have told me that all they can think about when they’re eating dinner is what they will have for dessert. I think eating dessert is more of a habit or reflects the way you were brought up. Some people have been doing it their whole lives. There are so many behavioral modifications you can enact that can make a big difference in controlling your weight or your children’s weight. Giving up dessert or at least minimizing the damage is a great place to start.

If eating dessert is ingrained in your life and you can’t give it up, try to minimize the damage by following my recommendations below.

Healthy Desserts for Kids:

• Piece of fruit

• Cup of hot chocolate with real milk

• ½ cup of regular ice cream

• Sweet nuts

Healthy Desserts for Adults:

• Cup of coffee or tea

• Glass of wine or port

• A little fruit and cheese

• 1 oz of nuts

• Small piece of dark chocolate

Give these recommendations a try and let me know what your family is doing about dessert.

Does your family eat dessert? What do you do to avoid eating sweets after dinner?

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Best – Mike Cola

Fitness Contrarian

About Mike Cola

Mike Cola has well over 50,000 hours of hands-on personal training experience. He started his own personal training studio in1989, Mike Cola Fitness, which is located in New York.Connect with Mike @ Google+

11 Responses to “Healthy Desserts for Kids”

  1. Good message Mike. Here is another suggestion…. I have found that fruit is more attractive when someone takes a little time and makes FRESH FRUIT SALAD! Something about how pretty it is, and how interesting it is to be offered a variety of fruits, all cut up. And don’t make the pieces large! Really so delicious, and not that much effort.

  2. Just read your post with my very interested 11 year-old!

    Glad you raised such an important issue!

    As a clinical psychotherapist who has worked in the arena of holistic health for over 35 years, I can say that family rituals and attitudes are crucial in shaping kid’s eating habits.

    Every family is different and needs to consider their temperament, lifestyle, and genetic predisposition to illness. Nutrition is key to health and healing.

    As a child my family always had dessert and sweets around -but moderation was key. It worked better for us than my friends whose families either viewed sweets as “forbidden” or went the other extreme with Twinkies galore.

    This worked for my family because of our nature, and the fact that we weren’t predisposed to overweight or habits of excess.

    As I understand even more than my mother the importance of diet, I strive to have healthier choices for desserts – while maintaining the positive aspects of the ritual of enjoying mealtimes together.

    While changing patterns around food can be challenging – the benefit is definitely worth it!

  3. Mike,

    Dessert can definitely be a weak spot, even for someone like me who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. I like Edy’s Dibs: little bite size pieces of ice cream. They are great if you can control how many you eat. I have about 3 for dessert during the weekdays (less than 40 calories).


  4. You can’t blame kids for having a sweet tooth and wanting to satisfy it. It’s up to the parents what they let their kids eat. I’ve noticed an unfortunate pattern of parents giving in and letting their kids have whatever they want.

    I’m not saying don’t let kids enjoy what they want…just make sure that consumption is moderated.

  5. @ Brooke

    Hi Bonni,

    Great suggestion. My kids love fruit salad. I should have put that in the post.

    Thanks – Mike

    @ Dr Fern

    Hi Dr. fern,

    As a psychotherapist you must deal with family issues related to eating habits all the time. I appreciate the time you took to comment on this topic.

    We all know what a challenge it is to get our kids and ourselves to eat properly. Every family has to find their own way to live an active lifestyle and eat a well balanced diet.

    What I think parents should keep in mind is that just because they were brought up eating a certain way that does not necessarily mean they have to do the same things with their children when it pertains to diet. So many families eat not because they are hungry but because it is a family ritual centered on food.

    For example, if you always ate dinner with your parents as a child followed by dessert you most likely enjoyed the time talking to your parents more then actually eating the dessert. You may be associating the attention from your parents with the sweets. You can break this ritual with your children by putting out a bowl of fruit and keeping the conversation going with your kids. Make dessert time more of a social exchange with your family and take the focus off the food.

    Thanks again Dr Fern for stopping by my blog.

    Best – Mike

    @ Alykhan

    Hey Alykhan,

    Having desserts only on the weekends is a great idea.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Best – Mike

    @ Srdjan

    Hey Srdjan,

    Parents play such a big part in molding their kid’s eating habits. I don’t blame the kids ether but it’s hard to control what kids eat when there not home. All parents can do is set good examples and teach their kids how to eat healthy.

    Best – Mike

  6. Mike,
    Being a teacher I see kids eating junk all the time, not that there is anything wrong with that, in moderation. I was a victim of what you described in your post. It was a standard practice in my house to eat dessert after meals, not just the special occasions. This played a huge role in my weight problems as a child, but I guess my parents and I just assumed that is what all families were like.

    I love the list you provided. I do enjoy dessert still today, but I don’t indulge as often. Tea and dark chocolate have saved me! Parent’s can only take partial blame for their child’s weight problems. While you can instill bad habits in your children, they are all capable of changing these habits at any time. I don’t blame my parents for beefing me up! I guess I just learned the hard way. Thanks for the great post, knowledge is power.

  7. Dessert is certainly a place where unhealthy eating occurs. However, I think everything in moderation is fine. I tend to have dessert a few nights per week but limit it to 100-200 calories.

  8. When children crave sweets this can be a sign that they are on a hypo/hyper glycemic yoyo. Parents need to be aware of the glycemic index of the food they are feeding their child.

    Or, it could be that they are just craving nature’s sweets, fruits. My son once commented to me while eating a grape, “Why do people even bother making candy, when there are grapes?”

  9. We eat by the Michael Polan adage, “Eat food, Not too Much, Mostly Plants” and our three kids have stayed very healthy (ages 5, 3, and 9mo.)
    The two older ones do have a small dessert after lunch every day: today, for example, they split a (small) gingerbread cookie. Sometimes they’ll have a piece of fruit, or a square of chocolate, or a small seasonal treat, like splitting a candy cane. I want them to be able to enjoy desserts in moderation, and not to fear them or binge on them because they’re forbidden. So they’ll have a taste of dessert a day, and they’re very satisfied. Would you recommend this?

  10. Hi Marta,

    I think you are doing a great job with your kids. A small dessert like 1/2 a cookie or a chocolate square is fine every day. I’m sure your kids are not over weight.

    Kids should be able to enjoy desserts in moderation.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Best – Mike

  11. Another nice topic Mike. As a trainer that focuses on children and coaches sports I see the impact of parental attitudes toward food and sweets and how it unconsciously directs the actions of their children. As a father of a few children I find myself more on the side of not every day…my wife is somewhat the same but then she enjoys baking cookies often. While this is better than buying something from the store, as hers are truly a healthy cookie (or granola), it is difficult for the kids to understand that just because something is there that is does not HAVE to be eaten daily. Indeed though, this is ultimately what we are preparing them for….is making a decision- a wise and informed decision- that is in their best interest when mom/dad are not around.