It can be very difficult to pack a healthy lunch for your kids to bring to school, especially one that they'll be willing to eat! But it is fundamental to their oral health.
There's no two ways about it: kids can be pretty difficult to please when it comes to food.
Packing healthy, filling school lunches that they'll actually be willing to eat can seem like an exercise in futility to many parents.
However, healthy, nutrient rich food is an extremely important element of you child's long-term health. The food in you pack in your child’s lunchbox provides most of the nutrients and energy he or she will require to make it through each school day successfully, full as it is of playing, learning, and mental and physical activity of all sorts.
Those nutrients also aid in your child's growth and development - and that's true for the teeth and gums, too!
Eating for Healthy Teeth & Gums
Children's teeth and gums require a wide range of vitamins and minerals to grow healthy and strong, making them less susceptible to decay and gum disease.
Calcium and vitamin D are very important for kids' oral health. Calcium, because it strengthens tooth enamel, and vitamin D because it aids in calcium absorption.
Other vitamins and minerals for good oral health include phosphorous, magnesium, vitamins A and vitamin C.
Healthy School Lunch Ideas
Here are a few ideas from SmileTown Dentistry Langley to get you started packing healthy, kid-friendly lunches for your kids that are easy to prepare:
Fresh, Canned or Frozen Fruits and Veggies
Fresh veggies and fruits can be prepared on the weekend (washed, peeled, chopped, bagged, etc.). This makes them an easy option to grab and go, maybe with a bit of dip on the side. Frozen or canned produce is an even faster way to include fruits and vegetables in your kids' lunchboxes, if you're pressed for time. Just ensure that fruits are not canned in syrup, but in their own juices.
Certain vegetables and fruits are especially good for oral health. For example, carrots (vitamin A), citrus and kiwi fruit (vitamin C), apples, and celery. Broccoli and dark leafy greens are great sources of calcium. Edamame is another great source of calcium, and is also complete protein. And, it’s fun to eat!
Cheese, Yogurt & Milk
Dairy a well-known calcium source. For yogurt, choose a variety without added sugar - for added sweetness, you can toss in some sliced fruit or berries instead. Cheese is a good choice because stimulates the production of saliva, which cleans food particles off of teeth.
Poultry, red meat, and fish are the most obvious sources of protein. For complete protein sources that don't contain meat, you can include hard boiled eggs, cheese, a batch of rice and beans, hummus and pita slices, or peanut butter sandwiches. These are all simple, kid-friendly choices.
Foods to Limit or Avoid
Moderation is key when it comes to treats. For good oral health, limit foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, acids, and of course, sugar, such as the following:
- Hard candy: Jolly Ranchers, peanut brittle, suckers
- Chewy candy: taffy, caramels, gummy bears
- Pop & 'sports' drinks
- Sticky dried fruit
- White Bread, saltines