Now that school is finally back in session (wow – what a year, right?), it’s time to get back into the routine or packing healthy school lunches for your kids (bonus points if you can also pack something they’ll eat). Unfortunately, many foods that we think are healthy tend to be secretly packed with lots of cavity-causing sugar that can really throw a wrench in your child’s oral hygiene. With that in mind, today we’re ready to load you full of good nutritious lunchtime options that will not only fill those tiny bellies, but keep your child’s smile healthy. Read on to discover Raleigh Dentist-Approved Healthy School Lunches for Kids this fall.
This…instead of That – Healthy School Lunches for Kids
When we were kids, PB&J was a classic for any school lunchbox; and it may still be a staple for your household. Unfortunately, this classic school lunch is loaded with sugar and can quickly lead to tooth decay if that’s all your child will eat. Furthermore, with the the influx of food allergies in the classroom, peanut butter may not be allowed at your child’s school (make sure to ask your teacher first before sending it in).
That said, don’t feel like you have to eliminate PB&J’s from your child’s lunchbox entirely. Rather, trade out the white bread for whole wheat bread and it becomes slightly healthier. White bread is full of carbohydrates. Those carbohydrates break down into sugar and project harmful bacteria into your child’s mouth that peculates all day long. Wheat bread is usually a safer option, just look for options with under 2 grams of sugar per servicing.
You can also look for NATURAL peanut butter (or other butters) without the added sugar to turn this classic into healthy school lunches for kids. Unfortunately, it may take a little bit of digging to find a Raleigh Dentist approved option, but we promise they are out there. Then there’s jelly. Much like the wheat bread, if you must have jelly, look for natural jams with 5 grams of sugar or less per serving to keep it healthy.
Alternatively, let’s get rid of peanut butter and jelly all together and move towards a simple whole grain sandwich with turkey and cheese. If your child isn’t a fan of “sandwiches,” we also love the idea of a turkey roll up and individually packaged cheese and a side of fruit. Younger kids especially do much better with small servings so try giving them lots of healthy options to much on during the day.
Don’t forget snack time when you pack healthy school lunches for kids
We find that most kids have favorites when it comes to snack time, but as we said earlier – most store-packaged options are usually loaded down with sugar or sticky substances that just stick to your kids teeth. Not to say that you need to write off all of their favorites, but your Raleigh Dentist has a few suggestions that are worth adding to your shopping list if you’re heading out to shop for healthy school lunches for kids.
Instead of fruit snacks, offer Real Fruit
Fruit snacks are one of our kids’ favorites, but they’re “sticky-icky” and can cling to teeth or get stuck in between teeth which leaves behind sugar and can lead to cavities. We’d love it if all of our patients stopped buying fruit snacks all together, but that’s unrealistic. However, we encourage you to pack more bananas, apple slices or strawberries in your kids’ lunch boxes instead. And, make sure that you’re offering these options at home as well!
Veggies are always a good option
Our kids have always liked carrots as a snack, but veggies in general are a great snack option with or without a dip. If your child likes to “dip,” look for natural hummus rather than ranch. Hummus is still really yummy but doesn’t have all the added sweeteners found in ranch dressing.
Yogurt and/or Cheese Protects Tooth Enamel
Anytime you can add dairy to your child’s lunchbox, do it! Calcium helps protect tooth enamel so snacks like yogurt or cheese is definitely a Raleigh Dentist-approved healthy school lunch or snack option versus sugar-loaded apple sauce packets. If your child is addicted to apple sauce in a pouch, now might be a great time to introduce them to an actual apple.
Another great Raleigh Dentist-approved healthy snack option is nuts or seeds. In particular, sunflower seeds, almonds and other tasty nuts are a great snack and are usually much more filling that chips or crackers that are full of empty carbohydrates that will leave your kids hungry.
When it comes to beverages, keep it simple
Back in the day, it seemed most parents threw a fruit juice in their kids’ lunchbox thinking that they were doing the right thing. Unfortunately, many of these fruit juices are loaded down with sugar and are just as bad as sending your kid in with a soda. Therefore, when it comes to beverages, keep it simple and encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day or have them drink milk with their lunch.
Dr. Katherine E Garrett DDS, PA knows that great dental care for your children goes well beyond brushing and flossing their teeth. If you want to kick off the new school year right, make sure that you’re providing your children with a balanced diet full of nutritious and low sugar foods. If you’re looking for a new Raleigh dentist, we’d love to provide dental care for your entire family and new patients are always welcome. Give Dr. Katherine E. Garrett a call to schedule your appointment.