May 06 2015

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The Dessert Challenge


The Dessert Challenge

A few weeks ago, one of my children came up with this idea of a dessert challenge. The idea was simple: no dessert until Friday. (A whole week. No dessert.) Everyone (taking the challenge) put in a dollar. Anyone who didn't stick to the rules it would lose his dollar to the ones who did. Everyone (even my 5-year-old daughter) put in a dollar.

Not too long after the challenge was set, the questions started coming. What qualifies as dessert? Obviously, dessert was a no-no, but what about other things? My Starbucks caramel macchiato. What! Yep, that was the first suggestion after I said juice was on the dessert list. (Juice, while more nutritious than soda or my de-licious coffee, is liquid sugar.)

There were some harrowing moments, but everyone made it.

In the next weeks, we switched it up a bit and came up with some more defined rules:

  • Two dessert choices per week–each person can decide when.
  • Dessert is defined at anything more than 8 grams of sugar. (That redefines fruit snacks as a dessert.)
  • Two fruit choices are allowed per day. (Otherwise, fruit would be counted as a dessert or would become the all-day solution for sugar cravings.)
  • Milk isn't measured. (But, if we were sticklers, it would need to be limited too.)
  • Saturday is a “normal” day. (Like we used to live before the challenge. So, in that way, it could be considered another dessert choice. It's a day when we don't think about the challenge.)

Our findings:

  • Half a Krispy Kreme donut is 5 grams of sugar.
  • We will do research if we want to eat something.
  • We can control ourselves. (Even at 5 years old.)
  • We love having the power to choose.
  • We are more choosy when it comes to dessert. (We have to decide if it is worth using one of our dessert options on something or not.)
  • 8 grams of sugar is still a lot.


This exceeds the sugar allotment for what is considered a healthy amount per day, but 8 grams of sugar per snack or added sweetness for a meal is moving this family closer to healthy. I hope we can keep this going for a while. I had no idea how much sugar I ate—I thought I was a fairly healthy eater. This solved the daily dessert question after dinner. And, while it was not in my thinking as we set out on our first week of dessert challenge, I saw some positive movement on my bathroom scale. (Something that all my running hadn't done for quite some time.)



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