A healthy and delicious lunch can be synonymous (don’t tell your kids!). It’s also incredibly important; it is, after all, their school day fuel and approximately 20% of their total meals. Use these do’s and don’ts to make those meals healthy from their toe to their mouth (especially your teeth!)—and everything above the gum line (to keep that mouth healthy, teach your kids to brush well and schedule regular dental cleanings and appointments).
Do pack calcium- and vitamin-rich foods.
Foods rich in calcium, protein, Vitamin A and D keep kid’s bodies healthy as they develop and grow, especially the mouth and teeth. Think cheese sticks, tuna, yogurt, turkey, peanut butter, and chicken that are delicious and nutritious.
Don’t pack sugary drinks.
Sugar drinks come in all different kinds and types: flavored water and milk, soda, sports drinks, fruit juice. The truth is that all of these kinds of sugary drinks have more sugar than nutritious value. The truth is that water and white milk are still the best drinks that keep kids hydrated and healthy.
Do choose whole-wheat over white.
White bread breaks down into sugar; when left on your teeth, that sugar can join forces with the bacteria in your mouth to cause cavities and tooth decay. Other starchy carbs can do the same, so avoid packing snacks like pretzels, chips, and crackers.
Don’t avoid vegetables.
Not every kid is crazy about vegetables, but don’t automatically assume that your kids are one of them. Presentation can go a long way with kids, so try to create a fun rainbow effect that makes your kids want to eat their carrot sticks, peppers, or pea pods.
Do look for crunchy foods.
Crunchy foods (i.e. apples, pears, carrots, etc.) not only make funny sounds that bring out the giggles, but they also are a major factor in fending off tooth decay. Crunching and chewing can stir up saliva which can destroy harmful bacteria in the mouth.
Don’t pack sugary foods that can get stuck in teeth.
Fruit leathers and fruit snacks may make your kids salivate at the thought, but they also can get stuck in kids’ teeth and cause tooth decay. Avoid anything gummy, or use it only as a special treat.
Do choose from foods on this list.
Want some concrete healthy foods that meet all these do’s and don’ts? Use this list (and excellent brushing and a regularly scheduled dentist appointment) to keep your kids’ bodies—especially their mouths—happy and healthy all school year.
- Cheese sticks
- Boiled eggs
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole wheat wrap
- Peanut butter