How to raise a junk-food obsessed child – Part 2

In this post I spoke about a novel approach to junk food. It often surprises me how well it works. A couple of weeks ago, we went to a farm with the kids. I bought each of the big kids their own big chocolate bars, why not I thought? They were pretty hungry – it was nearish to lunch time.  I gave them their chocolate and they were THRILLED. Their own huge chocolate.

They opened them, and began eating them. A few minutes I later, they each of their own accord asked me to take the rest and keep them for later. My 5 year old ate about a quarter, and my 3 year old ate about a half. They then asked what else is there is to eat, and ate a bagel and yoghurt.

I was beyond shocked. They ate, enjoyed and stopped when they were satisfied. Because they know they will get it again sometime soon enough, with no taboo or fuss..

The only catch is that for the “junk food” to work, you need to have established/ be well on your way to establishing a trusting feeding relationship in the context of sDOR. You have to know your job – the what, when, and where – and their job – if and how much and not take control or pressurize in any way

So if you are established in a trusting feeding relationship, you are set to move on to dessert

  • How to deal with dessert

We don’t do dessert except if we have guests on the weekend, and then they can eat as much or as little as they want – when it is served to everyone. They don’t have to a certain amount of “real food” to earn dessert. It’s just food.



  1. Encourages per-occupation with food
  2. Encourages children to eat more than their body wants/ needs just to get the dessert
  3. Encourages them to eat dessert because they have earned it, and its extra special, even if they are full or don’t like whats on offer. If left alone, they may eat some and leave the rest or eat all.
  4. Encourages EAH – Eating in the Absence of Hunger
  5. Encourages them to think as the main course as the obstacle which needs to be overcome to get what they really want to eat


Ellyn Satter suggest another genius strategy to remove all the drama around dessert. Basically, we want to “dethrone dessert”. Remove all the allure, the excitement, the begging, the bribing, the negotiating. We want dessert to be a neutral food. Level the playing-ground so to speak.

So, if you are home and your kids are begging for dessert or for treats you can(and this is the ONLY time we ever recommend limiting a food)

Offer a single small portion of dessert WITH the meal to each person.

Say “This is your dessert. You can eat it whenever you want, before with or after the meal, but there are no seconds on desserts”.

Sounds CRAZY, right?

Well, actually it’s beyond genius. The kids stop fixating on dessert, and they end up eating the food and the dessert simultaneously. I do it once in a while and love watching it in action.

  • How to do junk food – out the home ( Parties, school, friends, outings) and kid bringing food home

I love parties. I see them as learning opportunities for my kids to eat as much less nutritious food which I don’t have to provide at home. I do try offer a balanced snack/meal before if I know they are starving, but over and over they have proven that they can be trusted to eat normally. Sometimes, they eat too much and feel sick. That too is the best learning opportunity, way better than any other “don’t eat too much else you will feel sick” warning from a parent.

And once the food is at home, you are still in charge of the what when & where.

Example: Sarah comes home with a huge cupcake from a school birthday party

  1. Let her eat there and then – if it’s not that often, and they are established in their hunger/fullness cues, and there is a structure around meals, it works well
  2. You STILL get to decide the when and the where (and the what)

So, it goes like this:

“Ooh that looks delicious. Would you like to have it at dessert tonight, or with snack time tomorrow afternoon?” And then follow-through. Either use the dessert with the meal strategy above, or the unlimited snack as in part 1.

But NOT: “Oh that’s disgusting, all your school does is give you sugar the whole day, no you can’t eat that, I am throwing it in the bin”

Get the difference? First one is the authoritative parent, the second one is authoritarian and demonizing food.

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