Confessions of a Sweet-Toothed Dietitian

I grew up having dessert every night after dinner, and my sweet tooth is frequently on overdrive. So this final guest post in the Dessert Dilemma series, written by Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better, hits home with me:

Everyone has his or her dietary demons. Mine is dessert.

I wish I could tell you that I have de-stigmatized brownies, cookies, cake, and candy for my children, but that wouldn’t even be close to the truth.

I could care less about chips, fast food, and soda, but the thought of going one night without dessert is, well, downright devastating, and I’m pretty sure my children feel the same. I have passed on my love of sweets to my three girls. Sigh.

As a dietitian, I take some comfort in knowing that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans allows for added fats and sugars, no matter what your calorie level, so there’s no need to stress about having a smallish treat every day. But, given that my family suffers from IDD (Intense Dessert Desire), and our nature is to go overboard on sweet foods, I’ve taken steps to reign in dessert calories.

My secret weapon is portion-controlled foods, including 100-calorie fudge bars, Skinny Cow candy (no, I don’t work for them!) in 120-calorie packs, and packaged Rice Krispy Treats (the small ones).  I don’t emphasize calories with the kids, I just let them know that they can have one portion.  Plus, we stick to the one-treat-a-day rule: if you’ve had a sweet earlier on, then no dessert for you.  At the end of the day, it’s all about balance.

In some ways, dealing with dessert is easier for me than for moms with younger kids. My girls are 16, 15, and 12, so I can reason with them. They know the basics of good nutrition, and they’re aware that there are foods to grow on, and then there are treats that offer little in the way of good nutrition. Still, dessert is somewhat of a struggle.

I wish I had some trick to offer about making our dessert obsession disappear, and to erase my earlier misstep of giving my children treats after dinner when they were young. Oh, well. As the mother of two teens and one of the verge of adolescence, I could have far more serious things to worry about!

Elizabeth also writes a blog about nutrition before, during, and after pregnancy called Expect the Best Pregnancy.

Photo by TheCulinaryGeek.

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  1. says

    I am so glad to read this! Our family, too, suffers from IDD! When I was growing up I would have a bowl of ice cream as an after school snack and then again after dinner. I had a crazy fast metabolism so could pretty much eat whatever I wanted. People hated me because of that! 🙂 But as I’ve gotten older and defintely after having children, my metabolism has slowed. My kids have inherited the sugar gene and it’s something we fight all the time. Recently we went to a weekends-only policy for desserts. Just about three weeks into it, it has been tough some days for the kids but I have noticed they are asking (a little) less (my kids are younger than yours). It also makes dessert a little more special and thought of as a treat. But you’re right, I think we can all get caught up in worrying about it too much. Finding the balance that works for each family is what counts!

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