It can be pretty tricky to pack a healthy lunch for your kids to bring to school that your kids will want to eat! But it is fundamental to their oral health.
Kids can sometimes be very picky eaters.
Packing healthy, filling school lunches that their children will actually eat can be a difficult balance to achieve for many parents.
However, nutrient-rich food is a very important part of you child's current and long-term health. The food in you put in your child’s lunchbox will provide him or her with the energy and nutrients necessary to make it through the school day successfully, full as it is of playing, learning, and mental and physical activity of all sorts.
Those nutrients also fuel your child's development as he or she grows - and this is true when it comes to the teeth and gums, too!
Eating for Healthy Teeth & Gums
Teeth and gums require a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to grow healthy and strong, much like the rest of the body. These vitamins and minerals make them less susceptible to decay and gum disease.
Calcium and vitamin D, for example, are crucial for oral health. Calcium strengthens tooth enamel, and vitamin D aids in calcium absorption.
Other vitamins and minerals that are important when it comes to oral health are phosphorous, magnesium, vitamins A and vitamin C.
Healthy School Lunch Ideas
Here are a few suggestions for packing healthy, kid-friendly lunches that are also easy to prepare:
Fresh, Canned or Frozen Fruits and Veggies
Fresh vegetables and fruits can be prepared in advance, either the night before or on a weekend (washed, chopped, peeled, bagged, etc.), making them an easy option for a grab and go snack. Frozen or canned fruits and veggies are an even quicker way to include fruits and vegetables in your kids' lunches. Just ensure sure that fruits are not canned in their own juices rather than syrup.
Some vegetables and fruits are particularly good for oral health. For instances, carrots (vitamin A), kiwi fruit (vitamin C), apples, and celery are all great choices. Dark leafy greens and broccoli and are great sources of calcium. Edamame is a great source of calcium too, and is also complete protein. Plus, it’s great fun to eat!
Cheese, Yogurt & Milk
Most people are aware that dairy is a great calcium source. If you choose yogurt for your kids, buy a variety without added sugar, and just add some sliced fruits or berries instead. Cheese is a good choice not only because of its calcium content, but because it stimulates the production of saliva, cleaning food particles off of teeth.
Poultry, fish, and red meat are, of course, excellent sources of complete protein. For meatless options, try cheese, hard boiled eggs, rice and beans, pita slices with hummus, or peanut butter sandwiches. These are all easy, wholesome, kid-approved choices.
Foods to Limit or Avoid
When it comes to treats, practice moderation. To maintain good oral health, limit foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, acids, and sugar. for example,
- Hard candy: Jolly Ranchers, peanut brittle, suckers
- Chewy candy: taffy, caramels, gummy bears
- Pop & 'sports' drinks
- Sticky dried fruit
- White Bread, saltines