Over the course of my life, I recall very few meals that did NOT end with dessert… just a little something sweet to finish the meal — even if we weren’t actually hungry anymore (most of the time, we were not).
This trend of enjoying dessert after every meal continued into adulthood, up until this past summer when Dave and I decided to try something different.
Believe it or not, we have actually stopped eating dessert after our meals!
I know, you’re shocked!
Whenever I share a meal plan on the blog, I get SO many questions about our daily desserts — yes, we really do like our sweets, and that probably won’t change any time soon!
We just aren’t eating them after every meal anymore.
Our reason for implementing “no-desserts-after-meals” was truly NOT for health purposes, although there is that component for sure… we have no plans to cut out all sugar from our diets (not even close!)
Our family still enjoys sweet treats every single day — just not directly after each meal as we found our kids would often get fixated on what we were “having for dessert” and if it was something they really liked, they wouldn’t eat as much for dinner to “save room” for more dessert.
Also, our boys eat painfully slow. Waiting for them to finish dinner is hard enough — if we needed to sit around and wait for them to finish dessert too, we’d never leave the table!
How We Made the Transition to No Desserts:
Right around the 4th of July (after the parade candy influx) we let our kids choose a piece of candy for dessert instead of a more filling dessert like cookies, cake, pie, ice cream, etc.
They thought this was fantastic — and they ended up eating more for dinner since they didn’t have anything much to “save room” for.
Soon after that, we simply said, “We’re not going to have dessert after every meal, and instead we’ll enjoy sweet treats other times throughout the day. “ (clever, I know!)
Simon started crying right there on the spot (the other kids were whining too), but by day 3 no one even mentioned anything about it! They just brought their plates to the counter and went outside to play!
Dave and I were SHOCKED!
I think it was honestly hardest for me as I’ve been so used to this ritual after every meal (yes, I agree that sugar CAN become addictive!)
Our New “Sweets Routine”:
I hesitate to call it a “routine” (I’m not THAT scheduled) but this is sort of the pattern our sweets have taken now that we aren’t eating an official dessert anymore.
We almost always have something sweet with breakfast — syrup, jam, honey, chocolate chip pancakes, banana bread, etc. etc. In my opinion, these sweets are much more nutritious than a more traditional dessert (brownie, cake, ice cream)
I also usually pack the kids some sort of sweet treat or a small piece of candy (ex: Hershey’s Kiss) in their lunch — which they can choose to eat whenever they want throughout the school day.
They don’t always have snacks after they get home from school (mainly because we eat dinner so early), but if I do serve a snack, it’s usually a very small bar or cookie.
After we’re finished eating dinner, we simply read a few more chapters in whatever book we’re in the middle of and then they help clear the table and go off to play outside or upstairs. If for some reason they are still hungry after dinner (even after 2nd helpings) they can have a banana, a slice of bread with butter, or yogurt with fruit.
Bedtime snack is almost always grapes + cheese.
Yes, we still eat sweets!
I still LOVE to bake.
My family still LOVES to eat sweets.
We still enjoy dessert when we have company over.
We still celebrate holidays and birthdays with special cakes and sweets.
It’s just no longer an “every meal” sort of thing.
I want to reiterate that our goal for eliminating desserts after meals is NOT to eliminate sugar from our diets — but rather to eliminate (or at least lessen) our children’s obsession with what we might have for dessert after each meal — their feelings of entitlement for a sweet treat every time they ate something.
So far, we are happy with how well it’s going, and we don’t plan to start up post-meal desserts again with any sort of regularity.
I’m curious, how do you (or did you) handle desserts and sweet treats with your family?