Motivate Kids To Eat Healthy Dinners With Healthy Desserts


Have you ever wanted to find a great way to help motivate your toddler and/or child to eat healthy and finish their dinner?

At lunch today,  a smile beamed across my face. It was one of those “mommy moments” of complete satisfaction.

It started when my two and three year old Max and Sophie sat down to eat their lunch. It was the typical chaos that lunch time brings feeding toddlers. Max asking for water, Sophie wanting a blue straw versus a red straw, one asking for crayons and the other wanting to go potty. FINALLY, after all the commotion and a spilled cup of water on the floor, their lunch was served.

Both of my kids are luckily very hearty eaters.  They typically eat their healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner with enthusiasm and gusto. However, today was different.

Isn’t it ironic that we give our kids UNHEALTHY desserts to motivate them to eat their HEALTHY dinner?

Sitting on my little boy’s plate was a salmon sandwich on whole wheat bread and cut up cantaloupe. He typically likes to dip his fish sandwich in balsamic vinegar, (yes I know this is strange, but it actually is good!) However, today he wasn’t eating any of his sandwich, he wasn’t dipping his sandwich in the vinegar, and was only picking at the pieces of lettuce and cheese that were inside the sandwich. He wasn’t even eating his cantaloupe, which is one of his favorite fruits.

Meanwhile,  his two year old sister Sophie devoured every last bite of her salmon sandwich and cantaloupe and soon started asking for a cookie.  “Mommy I want a Pumpkin Cookie. A cookie mommy……PLEEEEEASE????”

After having just made pumpkin cookies that were fresh out of the oven,  the kitchen smelled REALLY good. I told her I would get her a cookie and she was happy. Then my little boy added to the excitement and chimed in with the request for a pumpkin cookie also. The only problem was, he had not even touched his lunch!

I am sure even my Grandma’s Grandma had the same response to this classic mom situation.  “Eat your dinner first and then you can have a cookie.”

Sure enough, this timeless age old approach of food motivation once again worked like magic in helping my son eat healthy and finish his lunch. Within minutes my little guy finished his entire salmon sandwich, all his cantaloupe, and he was delighted to have the privilege of getting a Pumpkin Oatmeal cookie right out of the oven for dessert.

At that moment, a wonderful feeling came over me about how satisfying it is to be able to use the old fashion “eat your dinner or you won’t get a dessert approach,” but with a NEW TWIST! To be able to use a HEALTHY TREAT to motivate toddlers versus using a sugar laden, white flour, empty calorie, full of chemicals, fat, and chemicals treat.

With healthy desserts, everyone wins. Not only did my son finish his HEALTHY salmon sandwich and fruit, but he was given a HEALTHY cookie as a treat.

Everyone was happy.

I smiled with satisfaction.

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Categories : Healthy for Kids


  1. RCO says:

    That is a great story. It's so hard to get your kids to eat healthy, using healthy treats as motivation is a great idea.

    What is your opinion about a drink like propel as compared to Gatorade? My kids are not big water drinkers, but do seem to like propel. We have been using it as a substitute for Gatorade.

    Also, how much better, if at all, is G2 compared to Gatorade.

    Really enjoy reading this blog. Great information.


    • Hello RCO, Thanks for your input and questions. I am a big believer in reading labels. Gatorade uses "high fructose corn syrup" and Propel uses "Sucralose," which is another term for Splenda. (This is an artificial sweetener.) I prefer to only eat natural sweeteners versus artificial sweeteners.

      The question remains, what to give kids to drink that is healthy? A great question that you bring up. My kids love fresh squeezed carrot juice in the morning and a small glass of fresh squeezed juice in the afternoon combined with water. (Too much fruit juice is not good either) You can also sweeten water with a small amount of unsweetened apple juice. You can make lemonade with raw honey, and/or make a delicious vegetable water drink with cucumbers and melons that is very refreshing.

      Don't forget….if mommy and daddy talk about how good plain water tastes and watch you enjoy drinking it, than there is a higher chance that your kids will drink plain water. Perhaps they do not like to drink plain water if you don't. (Fun straws help too!) Hope this helps!

    • Thobani says:

      I’m always a llitte behind in terms of trends, but I’m totally obsessed with pumpkin this year. And I’ve got cans and cans of Libby’s stockpiled at my house so this cookbook will definitely come in handy! Thanks for sharing! 🙂