When I was training to become a registered dietitian, I learned all of the "rules" that parents should follow to instill good eating habits in their children. From eating as a family at the dinner table to not bribing kids to eat their veggies, I was all set to be the mother to the healthiest kids on the planet.
And then my daughter turned 3. Three-year-olds are cute, but those little buggers have their own opinions and the ability to walk away from the dinner table once they aren't strapped into the high chair anymore. Three-years-olds have free will, a voice (sometimes loud and winey), and they have been exposed to the world of candy, chocolate, and all things sugar. My healthy and balanced dinners were greeted with disapproval and arguments about sitting with mom and dad to break bread. Sitting in front of the TV downing a bag of cookies for dinner sounded like a much better option to my daughter.
All of that changed when I started giving my daughter a "treat" with her dinner. By "treat" I mean a supplement called Good Day Chocolate ($14) that is made of fair-trade chocolate, has only two grams of added sugar, and has no artificial colors and flavors. This "treat" also offers some unexpected ingredients like live probiotics or chamomile.
Now, when I serve dinner to my family, my daughter finds a Good Day Chocolate on her dinner plate. This small gesture gets her to sit her little booty at the dinner table and eat a decent meal with her parents. When she sees that her treat is served with her fish sticks and carrots, she immediately sits down and enjoys her chocolate before her meal with no complaints or arguments. And better yet, I don't hear any negotiation attempts or requests for dessert.
I alternate between two varieties of Good Day Chocolates. Her favorite is the calm variety because it is purple. (Anything that is purple is golden in her eyes.) This purple chocolate supplement is colored with red cabbage extract instead of artificial colors, fair-trade chocolate, and contains chamomile and L-theanine (a natural supplement similar to herbal tea). The chamomile and L-theanine have been shown to have a calming effect in the body.
Sometimes she gets the probiotic variety, which is colored with spirulina and turmeric instead of green food coloring. These dark chocolate supplements are made with live probiotics that help keep her healthy. She's happy because she gets a piece of chocolate, and I am happy because she is sitting at the dinner table and eating some beneficial ingredients.
As a dietitian, I am perfectly comfortable with serving chocolate on my daughter's dinner plate. This shows her that all foods fit into a healthy and balanced diet, and it teaches her about eating treats in moderation. Basically, she is eating her dessert first. And who wouldn't love that?