August is “back to school” month for a big segment of the population where moms and dads work to prepare their children for a super, successful school year. Selecting out just the right foods to create a healthy, balanced lunch is helpful for healthy, happy minds and bodies.
Many school districts offer a school lunch program. These lunches are nutritionally balanced and can be a big time savings for many parents and children. Some children, however, prefer a “cold lunch” as they are now termed, where the primary caregiver or child get the joy of preparing lunch. Preparing these lunches can be fun, yet also can quickly turn into a mind-boggling task when taking into account all of the specific needs/wants of “selective” eaters.
Hogan Family Dental wants to share a few ideas on how to choose healthy snack and lunch items to keep your child on track. We want to keep your child’s teeth healthy throughout the school year!
Why is this Important?
Each one of us has bacteria living in our mouths. Bacteria thrive on sugar. We encourage you to avoid foods that are sticky and retentive, as well as those that are high in sugar. Minimizing the frequency of sugar exposures decreases the risk of cavities dramatically.
Choosing Healthy Snacks
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) both recommend choosing from the basic food groups and keeping appropriate portion sizes in mind for children and adults. To help with this, the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services have produced the Food Guide Pyramid based on their food research.
Healthy Foods with No Sugar
Meats, cheese, eggs, and nuts all have no sugar content. These provide a healthy protein-packed snack that will not feed the bacteria in your mouth to create cavities. Some easy options for lunch boxes include string cheese, salami, and summer sausage.
Healthy Foods with Natural Sugar
Vegetables and fruits are great! If you cannot get your child to eat these, you may want to find some ways to make eating these foods fun: Ants on a Log (raisins on peanut butter filled celery sticks), apple slices with peanut butter or yogurt for dunking, raspberries filled with cream cheese, or simply olives to put on their fingers. Salsa and guacamole are other healthy dunking options.
On special occasions, consider opting for healthy snack bites. These can be easily made at home with a little bit of chocolate to make a healthy snack that is also sweet. Not sure what that might look like? Click here for a recipe that even your kids could make!
Sugary & Sticky Foods to Avoid
We recommend avoiding sticky foods that contain sugar, like fruit rollups, fruit gushers, and caramels. Foods like this remain on the teeth for longer periods of time, increasing the risk of decay.
We recommend avoiding beverages that have a high concentration of sugar. Juice boxes, soda pop, and Capri-Suns are very high in sugar and have minimal (if any) nutritional value.
Another type of food that sticks to the teeth is processed, carbohydrate rich foods like as goldfish and other crackers. These foods break down into simple sugars and tend to stick around in the grooves and pits of teeth – leaving the sugars readily available for cavity-causing bacteria.
Simple Tricks to Prep Lunches in Advance
Fantastic ideas are available on Pinterest and parenting blogs to help with school lunch ideas and preparation tips. I found the following suggestions to be very useful:
- Prepare all of the essentials for the week ahead of time and place in a bin in the refrigerator. Your child can pull out the bin and place one (or two) items from each bin into their lunch sack for a significant time savings.
- If your child likes sandwiches, you can prepare the sandwiches including bread, meat, and cheese in advance and freeze them in cellophane. When lunch time comes, their sandwich will be defrosted and ready to eat with any condiments they choose to apply. If your child enjoys lettuce/tomatoes on their sandwich, bag those items separately.
- Remember to include ice packs to keep their lunch cold – especially if you are serving meat, cheese, or eggs.
Other Helpful Links
I found the following links very useful:
Please feel free to comment on our Facebook page with additional ideas that work well for your family! We are in this together!
Keep a Toothbrush Handy
If you or your child have a high risk of cavities, please be encouraged to slip away to the bathroom and brush for a minute after eating or when you get home. This extra brushing moment – outside of the regular two times a day for two minutes – may be a great way to keep cavities away! Even a simple swish or drink with water after a meal will help to rinse away any residual food particles.
Call Hogan Family Dental today to schedule your child’s next dental check-up or your own – (406) 234 – 2926. We hope to see you soon!