Eat Dessert First

Standing in line at the grocery store. The customers directly ahead of me are a mother and young child, perhaps kindergarten age.

Child: My teacher said, “Eat anything first.”

Mother: Your teacher said what?

Child: Eat anything first. For lunch. We could eat anything first.

I am picturing a partitioned styrofoam school lunch tray, with a main course in one square, vegetable in the second, fruit or dessert in the third, milk in the fourth. Or maybe a lunchbox with containers or plastic baggies, each containing items opened by small children one at a time.

Child: We could start eating with whatever we wanted.

Mother: Prior to dessert, is that what your teacher meant, perhaps?

Child: Yes.

She frowned and stomped one foot — not full-on temper tantrum, but the display of a single moment of frustration.

Child: No.

Mother: No?

Child: No.

Mother: That’s not what she meant?

Child: No. She said we could eat anything first, even dessert.

The customer ahead of this pair completes their transaction, and the mother switches to talking to the cashier.

I don’t know how the conversation ends — or if that was the end.

And while I’m sure there are plenty of folks concerned about letting young children develop tastes for foods with relatively higher levels of sugar (keeping in mind that I don’t even know what constituted the standard “dessert” for these students), I also know what it’s like to walk a classroom full of students through an activity, making sure that each one gets basic needs met.

From both perspectives — that of a teacher and that of an eater — there is worse advice than, “Eat anything first.”

Even dessert. ;)

Fig-Newtons-Stacked

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7 comments on “Eat Dessert First
  1. A Simple Guy says:

    Nice blog. I was told to eat dessert; fruits (not sweet pastry or ice cream though) first before the mail meals. =)

  2. Juliana says:

    My family has a saying: “Life is short, eat dessert first.” I think it was my grandfather who started it.

    Meanwhile, if you’re trying to keep a child from developing a taste for sugar, you’re already too late. Evolution has long since primed all children to preferentially eat sweet foods because that’s how they get energy to fuel them for all the running and learning and growing they have to do. “You can eat your food however you want” is just letting the kids have choices, which means happier kids in the long run.

  3. Teaspoon says:

    I love it. It’s so simple. “Eat anything first.” I need to make a cross-stitch or a poster of that for the dining room.

  4. FarmerStina says:

    I thought that was the whole point of a milkshake: getting to eat dessert first!

    I love this idea and commend that teacher. I can only imagine how many of her students just don’t get enough food, period, so telling them to eat anything first is good.

  5. Katie says:

    I came to your blog through Feministe, and have to share a few thoughts. I’ve lost over 100 pounds over several years (lifestyle change, eating change, now an avid exerciser). I grew up fat, got very fat in my 20s when I was poorer and just starting work. I’m a type 2 diabetic, diagnosed in my mid-30s. That shock is what propelled me to change my life. I’m also a teacher, and with all the budget cuts, it’s an ongoing struggle to curb kids from eating in class, and to keep their attention during 90-minute blocks once a week, so I end up feeding them. I shop at 99 cent stores and try to get mostly good, healthy stuff but I also know they like candy. I’m torn about doing this; if the budget cuts weren’t so severe, kids would actually eat what the cafeteria makes, but at least two or three days of the week, most don’t eat and say that what was being served was nasty. I know it’s kids being kids; kids wanting to interact more than take time to eat; and kids being rightfully picky. So I try to do my part without undoing good habits, while trying to reinforce good habits of always eating SOMETHING to keep one’s blood sugar relatively on an even keel. Life, eating, teaching… such a balancing act.

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