My 6 yo son (we have 3 other boys) is really fixated on the routine of dessert. I mean, who can blame him, right? But it's to the point that he gets very concerned/repeatedly inquires about/gets upset over it. For example, say he falls asleep on a late car ride home, or while watching a movie- as we transition him to bed, if he wakes up a little he will start asking for, then crying about not "getting dessert". If he he gets a lot of treats in a day- say a holiday or birthday party day- he still gets upset even if he had a giant cupcake before coming home. My thoughts are it is a pleasant routine for him, but growing up we didn't have "desert" every night, I didn't set that routine, and his siblings aren't very fixated on it. He threw a fit at the last birthday we went to because they had cupcakes earlier, but had a bbq later, and after the bbq he freaked out in front of everyone because there was "no dessert left" I talk to him logically about it, but he gets very distraught. I try to give him healthier "dessert" options but I still sort of wish he could get used to not having to have that all the time! On the other hand, Routine is ok and maybe you mamas think it's harmless as long as it isn't overboard? Anything I could try, or should I just let him hold onto this routine?
On to part 2- My DSS is 6.5, and we've been on a roll with the kids eating well in general these days- they finally got over their late pre-k years of uber picky eating. :) So the past few weeks DSS has been a little weird about food. Randomly one day, as I was cooking homemade veg pizza and making salad (I do almost all the cooking in out household) He says to us: "I think the reason why I don't feel good all the time is that you don't feed me healthy enough foods" (WHAT). First of all, where did that come from, and second- If I were cooking any healthier he'd probably cry lol. He will take a few bites of food then say he's "full", the few times we let him be done he was complaining of hunger within the hour but wanted a snack. We are on the fresh-fruit-only snack policy now with that, but he eats fruit and still complains. it's only happening at dinnert when his dad is there, and when his dad tells him he needs to try a little more (this is after being at the table for onlt 2 minutes!) he gets sad, and puts his head down on the table, and often pouts/cries for the rest of dinner. I have to admit, it's getting a little under my skin. It's distracting to the family meal time and it's fairly extreme- It's food he loves, and he's super hungry ALL THE TIME. Recently he's done it at my In-law's at a big family meal and another get together. I've noticed these common threads: it's always dinner (the meal his dad is at), it always only takes him a moment, it's not halfway through the meal or anything, he KNOWS what his snack options are put always wants a different option later, and then often gets upset when he can't have dessert. I just wonder if it's a normal developmental stage where he's trying to have control, and he see's his dad as the one he wants to have this boundary pushing with, and maybe I should approach it like that? Find better options of control over dinner for him (like meal planning etc)... I don't just want to lose my nerve in the heat of the moment because he's saying rude things about his food or pouting/crying on the table for the tenth time in a row. Help! Lol
My opinion may be unpopular, but I would eliminate dessert from your family habits.
I think that dessert IS unhealthy in body and mind. (My family eats very low-carb). The point of eating is to nourish the body. Period. All emotional and mental pleasure from eating should be to that aim - to me, that is what the drive to eat is all about: nourishment.
Any drive to consume beyond nourishment is an addiction. Carbohydrates, especially sugars (even natural) are addictive.
Simply announce that there will be no more desserts because you have come to understand that desserts are not healthy for the body and the mind. That you personally have committed to caring for your body by eliminating desserts so that you don't have health and mood problems. That you know it will be hard to adapt but that you are committed to do the right thing now that you have new knowledge.
(EDIT: Are you feeding mostly vegetarian? It's possible that your son isn't getting adequate animal fats and protein. His comment on "healthy" foods may be that he finds that the vegetables are not nourishing enough. I personally do not think that a low-protein low-fat diet is healthy, especially for children. When I fed my family low-fat low-protein we did in fact all feel very unwell and were hungry in general with cravings. Check the protein recommendations for your sons, it may be higher than you think. I'm 45 and a woman and I still eat almost 70g of protein a day.)
I can assure you that sugar loses its allure once a body is adapted to live without it. The last time I tried a piece of birthday cake I got a gag reflex after 3 bites. My daughter, raised low-carb, never eats sugar.
As far as your son's tantrums are concerned, tune them out. As your kids get to be teens, this will become a valuable skill :) His demands can fall on deaf ears. If he is done eating, he can be excused. Part of this may be control, the other part is likely carbohydrate addiction. Neither of these, I believe, should you play into.
It's possible that your committment to "family time" will have to be abandoned. There were times where we did not eat as a family for months on end due to attitude problems. We are still a solid healthy family. I just removed the arena for the drama.
When he is done, he is done. There should not be snacks, IMO. I personally don't think that grazing is healthy, especially for the teeth. A few incidents of real hunger and he may change his tune.
If you de-emphasize food in your household it may help this problem.
I did not entertain complaints about healthful nourishing food. That is insulting to the family and to "god" in whatever form you conceive, including "mother nature."
Is it possible that your son feels unsatisfied spiritually: in his relationships, in his role in the family, in activities and interests? Perhaps you could help him to branch out in this regard.
Good luck with this issue
High fat treats are great to satisfy sugar cravings while curbing the craving for next time. Try coconut oil "fudge"/"fat bombs"? And maybe a little really dark chocolate. If you cut the starches and sugars (in snacks desserts and meals too) way down day to day the rare normal sweet will taste really really sweet, too much really. Is he in school learning their opinion of healthy food? Might be time for presenting a healthy eating and lifestyle lesson series in line with WAPF or Paleo/Primitive. Also he might just be obstinant and need to be reminded to trust your judgment, you are his parents after all.
If he's really super picky and having any chronic digestive upset check out GAPS for a serious reset.
My 4 year old won't eat at some meals, would rather just snack or eat the starchy part if there is any, but if I put meals away and reheat them later he often finishes it (sometimes with a reward like if you eat this you can watch your show next).Also, It's near impossible to function without snacks if you are carb adapted, and it takes a couple weeks of high amounts of protein and fats, amounts foriegn to most people like double the meat and veggies and only things like nuts and jerky and coconut oil as snacks, to get keto adapted instead.
I second the suggestion of eliminating desserts.
My ds1 eats about 20 foods total, no joke (he is 9yo, btw). However, that list would expand significantly if I included sugary, carb-laden foods. As a result, I only have food around that I'm okay with him eating anytime; that boils down to tons of fruit, nuts (we make lots of different kinds of trail mixes), cheese, yogurt, smoothies, that sort of thing. I make normal dinners for the family, but I always put out a plate of raw vegetables and either cheese or nuts. We all nibble on it, but that's what he's eaten for years now for dinner!
For a while we were doing bedtime snacks, but that was resulting in him eating one carrot stick for dinner, and then almost immediately being ready for his bedtime snack. We got rid of that, and things have gone smoothly since.
I don't mean to make it sound like we're food purists here...there are tons of opportunities for kids to get sugary food out and about life, and I while I don't deprive ds of this, I don't add it into our food routine either. That way when he does get a sugary item, it's a pleasant surprise, but nothing he ever feels entitled to.
For my picky eater, it's all about routine, or lack thereof, when it comes to food. As long as the rules around food are crystal clear, we're good.