Ask the ex­pert ... Susie Bur el

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - ADVERTISIN­G PROMOTION -

I have a con­stant bat­tle with my kids about dessert. Am I set­ting up an un­healthy habit by end­ing their meal with some­thing sweet? Me­lanie J, via Face­book

The choice of whether to in­clude dessert oc­ca­sion­ally or ev­ery night is one for ev­ery fam­ily to make. But in­clud­ing it nightly can get chil­dren into a habit of eat­ing even when they are not hun­gry, just be­cause some­thing ap­peal­ing is on of­fer. It can also prime a life­long habit to seek out sweet foods when­ever we fi nish a meal.

Eat­ing high-calo­rie sweet foods at night is as­so­ci­ated with weight gain over time and is not great for den­tal health. If you have nightly dessert, of­fer calo­rie-con­trolled, healthy op­tions in­clud­ing plain yo­ghurt and fruit, a warm milk drink, frozen home­made yo­ghurt ice blocks, or sugar-free ice blocks. Theres also cheese, nuts or plain crack­ers with nut spread.

Treat-style desserts should be con­sumed at most 1–2 times each week — and make sure your lit­tle ones brush their teeth be­fore bed.

Plus, if there are foods youd rather your kids were eat­ing less of, try not to keep them in the house. Out of sight, out of mind!

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