Back-to-school season is here again! In addition to buying your kids’ school supplies, you’re probably already busy setting up your family’s schedule as you transition back into the school year. But are you also thinking about healthy lunch ideas for your kids? After all, the right foods can help protect their teeth and gums, no matter their age, so this is a wise step to take in addition to ensuring your kids see the dentist regularly.
What are some of the healthiest lunch ideas that your kids are sure to love? The list below can help you give your children the nutrition they need to concentrate in class and keep their smiles bright for those school pictures.
Certain foods help scrub the teeth clean, so they’re definitely a smart choice when you’re packing lunch and snacks. Other foods contain vital nutrients that support oral health from the inside, so they’re also fabulous choices.
The following foods can be healthy additions to your child’s diet, as they all promote strong teeth and gums.
Fresh fruits and veggies that are crunchy (think: apples, carrots, and celery) require quite a bit of chewing, so they could scrub your child’s teeth, thus helping to keep them cleaner. Celery, in particular, even has a texture that can mimic floss. These foods also contain a lot of fiber, along with high amounts of water, to further help cleanse the teeth. Pretty neat, right?
Another reason to feed your kids more fruits and vegetables, whether raw or cooked: they’re high in nutrients that can help maintain oral health. Take green leafy vegetables (like kale and spinach) and broccoli, for example. Rich in vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid and calcium, these foods may naturally help your family keep their teeth and gums nice and strong.
In addition to giving your kids some fruit, like pears and melons, to enjoy as a snack or as a side to their lunch, you can also add veggies and fruits like tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans, avocado, cucumbers, and leafy greens to sandwiches, wraps, pasta, chili, soup, and rice.
Seeds and nuts might be small, but they pack a powerful nutritional punch that can promote health, including oral health, in a variety of ways. For example, cashews, almonds, and peanuts are high in calcium and phosphorus, which support the enamel, particularly after it’s attacked by acidic foods and drinks.
Need more reasons to add these ingredients to your child’s lunch? Seeds and nuts are also a great source of nutrients, like good fats, that may help protect teeth against harmful bacteria. Plus, seeds like sunflower seeds provide nutrients like folic acid that may help keep the gums healthy. Wow, that’s a lot of benefits!
There are a lot of nut butters and seed butters that you can add to tasty sandwiches. You can also create yummy snacks, like celery sticks that are coated in a nut butter and sunflower seeds. Or you can simply make a trail mix using various nuts and seeds, along with coconut flakes for extra flavor.
If your children eat dairy, there are a variety of foods that you can add to their lunch menu. For example, cheese, milk, and yogurt are good sources of calcium and phosphorus, which can help support your child’s enamel. And yogurt boasts probiotics that might help combat harmful bacteria that would lead to tooth and gum problems (it’s best to stick with yogurt that’s low in sugar or sugar-free).
What’s interesting about cheese is that certain types, such as Monterey Jack, cheddar, and Swiss, may help the mouth produce more saliva, which can then wash away food particles that would otherwise sit on the teeth. Plus, cheese and milk may also help reduce the level of acidity in the mouth, further protecting the teeth.
Consider giving your child some yogurt with fresh fruit, or add some cheese to a wrap or sandwich. You can also pack some milk, along with water, that your child can drink with their lunch. And you can even combine cheese and fruit, such as cheddar and apples, so your child can reap the many benefits of these different foods.
What if your child doesn’t eat dairy? No worries! The same nutrients that are found in dairy can be derived from a wide range of other delicious foods instead.
Using the tips above, you can create nutritious lunches that are packed with flavor and will support your kids’ oral health. Plus, these are foods that can fill your child’s belly so hunger won’t get in the way of learning.
Need more tips on how to feed your children for optimal oral health? Talk to a dentist! He or she can examine their teeth and gums, as well as discuss what you can do at home to keep their pearly whites strong and beautiful.