With talks of the upcoming school year being remote and many kids learning from home, parents are going to be in charge of lunchtime even more than before. While you have already taught your children the basics of dental hygiene – brushing twice a day & flossing regularly – there are so many opportunities to promote healthy teeth in their lunchboxes too. Try out these easy lunchtime swaps!
Say no to applesauce, say yes to apples – Applesauce, and other fruit snacks and leathers, are loaded with natural and added sugars that can lead to cavities. Chewing on a whole apple can scrub away plaque, plus it has no added sugars and is high in fiber. Celery and carrots are great at clearing plaque too! Cut a bunch up at the beginning of the week so they are easy to pull out come lunch or snack time.
Say no to starch, say yes to crunch – Pretzels, pasta, chips, and crackers are low in sugar, which is great, but simple starches like these break down into a sticky goo, coating the teeth and causing cavities. Get some crunch from nuts, seeds, and baby carrots. These replenish minerals in your kid’s tooth enamel that acid has removed.
Say no to neutral, say yes to color – Did you know that different colors in foods represent different vitamins and minerals? Help your kids eat the rainbow with red and orange fruits and veggies which are high in vitamin C and good for the gums; leafy green vegetables which are a good source of calcium and promote strong teeth; and purple foods like blueberries, grapes, and beets which reduce inflammation and prevent obesity.
Say no to extra flavoring, say yes to natural – Skip the chocolate or strawberry milk that contains added sugars and the carbonated soft drinks with tooth stripping acid. Instead, serve plain milk chock full of calcium (add a few drops of food coloring to entice the little ones) or water which flushes the body of toxins and hydrates.
Say no to empty calories, say yes to protein – If you don’t want to hear, “can I have a snack?” 20 minutes after lunch, make sure to include a rich serving of protein. This could include a whole-wheat sandwich with chicken, turkey or ham, hard-boiled eggs, or tuna fish. You’ll end lunch with a full tummy and stronger tooth enamel.