The hardest thing about packing teeth friendly school lunches is worrying about what ends up back at home at the end of the day. Making sure your kids are getting all the nutrients they need isn’t always easy. The good news? There are easy ways to prepare these.
We put together the do’s and don’ts of healthy school lunch etiquette, including some meal options that will have your kids excited for lunch, fueled all day and won’t end up in the trash.
What to pack in teeth friendly school lunches:
- Cheese: With bone and teeth strengthening calcium and a dose of protein, cheese is the perfect lunch snack. To mix things up, try cubing or cutting Swiss and Cheddar into fun shapes for a snack kids will love.
- Whole Grains: Studies show that those who eat a higher-fiber diet are at a lower risk for bone loss, gum disease and receding gums. Put things like 100% whole wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice into lunches and replacing white tortillas with whole grain or whole-wheat versions are an easy swap that can go a long way.
- Fruits & Veggies: Carrots, peppers, cucumber and broccoli have all the nutrients your little one needs to grow healthy teeth. To entice picky eaters, including dips like hummus, tzatziki, and homemade Greek yogurt offer needed protein without any of the sugar that salad dressings tend to have. In the fruit department, limit things that are high in sugar like grapes and instead opt for the more filling and potassium-rich banana.
What to avoid in teeth friendly school lunches:
- Processed foods: Foods like snack packs and milk products are stripped of valuable nutrients and fibre during processing and replaced with sugar and refined flour which coats the teeth and causes cavities. Instead, pack your own Greek-yogurt cups with fresh fruit and granola, or get creative with your own 100% whole wheat mini-pizza snack packs your kids will love.
- Packaged treats: Cookies, crackers, chips etc. are all packed full of preservatives and additives, not to mention high sugar and sodium content. For a tasty alternative, try these delicious three-ingredient oatmeal cookies that contain just bananas, oats and chocolate chips. And for something savoury, pre-pop some natural popcorn at home and dust with parmesan or top with butter.
- Sugary drinks: Parents know, once you open the door to juice and pop, it never really closes for kids. The problem is most juice, even the 100% pure kind, are loaded with harmful sugars that erode enamel and cause cavities. Instead, pack water to hydrate active little minds and bodies. And if your kids really can’t stand plain water, try adding mint leaves, watermelon, berries or cucumber at home for a flavourful kick.
Once you find options both you and your little ones love, get them involved in prepping and packing their favourite school lunches. Making your kids a part of the meal experience encourages responsibility, healthy eating and sets them up for a lifetime of good oral health decisions.