Finding foods that are nutritious and safe for our children’s teeth is easy. However, finding foods that they’ll enjoy is not. This is especially true when your child has peers around them with lunches filled with unhealthy options.
There are, though, ways that you can provide healthy lunch ideas for your child’s lunch while ensuring that they thoroughly enjoy it. Some of these ideas may make your child’s peers jealous this time around. Here are a few suggestions.
#1 Cut Down On The Sugar
Sometimes the best solutions lay right in front of you. Because the harmful bacteria on your teeth thrive off sugar, the best way to make sure that your child’s diet is safe for their teeth is to cut down as much of it as possible. You don’t have to cut out sugar completely; just remember that some sugar sources are more robust than others. Eating fruits, for instance, contains less sugar than if you down a jar of gummy worms. And if your child gets their sugar from whole food sources—such as apples and nuts—they also get all the other nutrients they offer.
#2 Get creative with fruits and veggies.
Healthy lunch ideas tip: Boring veggie sticks or slices of fruit are no fun. Creating fruit or veggie “kabobs” or cutting them with a crinkle-cut knife can give these foods some game. Yogurt dip for fruit or peanut butter for veggies can also share your child motivation to eat healthy foods necessary for their pearly whites.
Sometimes, adding healthy foods bluntly is not the way to go, but instead, in a more transformable manner. Adding spinach or other veggies to pasta salad, hummus in a wrap or sandwich, or even nuts or fresh berries to yogurt can “hide” healthy foods enough to make them enjoyable.
Of course, a vegetable soup or casserole can also prove to your child that vegetables can be tasty; they have to find what works for them and their taste buds.
#3 Opt for cookie cutters to make healthy food fun
Even as adults, we admire fun-shaped foods, something that is clean-cut yet fun. Stars, hearts, flowers, and other shapes can make sandwiches, fruits, pita bread, and other easily-cuttable foods more appealing, and thus more edible, to children.
After all, in the culinary industry, the presentation is almost nearly as important as flavor. Keep this in mind when packing your child’s lunch.
#4 Add several options
A sandwich and salad just aren’t going to do. Especially for picky eaters, it is essential to have several options in their lunchbox.
A healthy wrap, fresh grapes, a cup of pasta salad, and various cheeses to snack on is an example of what a different lunch could look like. Another delicious example could be tuna salad, crackers, fruit salad with various fruits, and mixed nuts.
The idea is that there are not only different food options but that some of the food options themselves are varied as well and mixed with various ingredients or flavors to ensure their lunch isn’t dull.
The last tip for healthy lunch ideas – it’s all in the presentation! A great way to add more options to your child’s meal and make it more presentable is to make your child’s lunch in a bento box. Plastic, reusable bento boxes can be purchased for your convenience.
Bento boxes neatly display food and encourage food in different shapes, orientations, and sizes. Additionally, they help keep foods organized, separated, and fresh.
Don’t be afraid to get a little fun with making a bento box-style lunch by turning your child’s sandwich into a panda bear with cucumber ears!
Moderation And Choosing Food Wisely
Aside from cutting down the amount of sugar your child consumes, another thing you can do is regulate what they eat in general. This regulation extends to not only the number of times they eat but also what they eat. Here are a few examples:
- Eat saliva-friendly food. As mentioned, saliva is a powerful tool against any lingering sugars, so the more you eat saliva-friendly food, the less sugar you leave on your teeth. Good news for you, cheese lovers—certain cheese types can prompt salivation.
- No snacks. The more you snack matters more than how much you eat per bite since it decreases the time needed for your saliva to wash away the food particles. Try to restrict snack time to twice a day at most.
- Get more calcium. Finally, what you could do to ensure your child’s diet is dental-friendly is to look for vitamins and minerals that feed their teeth. In particular, calcium helps strengthen teeth against bacterial attacks, so feel free to pepper your child’s lunches with calcium-heavy meals.
Tips For Eating Sweets
Choose the type of sweets you consume
Fortunately, not all sweets harm your teeth the same way. Some treats can do a number on your little one’s teeth if you’re not careful. But there are others that you can safely enjoy on a reasonable basis. These treats typically share the following attributes:
- Washes off the teeth quickly. When sugars or sugary substances stay on your teeth for too long, it’s a free-for-all for your oral bacteria. They convert these sugars into acid, which over time can erode the tooth enamel. Sweets that wash off quickly, such as chocolate, are then a better alternative to other types of candies.
- Triggers saliva flow. We’ve previously delved into the importance of saliva in keeping one’s oral health. And fortunately, saliva-friendly treats aren’t a thing of myth. Chewing gum is one good example of this. Because chewing triggers saliva production, the more you chew on the gum, the more saliva you produce. The saliva, in turn, helps wash away any stray sugars you might have accumulated.
- Contains less sugar. If you eat less sugar, oral bacteria have less fuel to attack you. Treats like dark chocolate and sugar-free gum, then, hit two birds with one stone. Aside from containing less sugar, their saliva-friendly properties wash away what little sugar they have, making them less susceptible to sticking around your teeth.
- Contains ingredients that help the teeth. Some gums contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that is said to prevent tooth decay. For one, xylitol blocks the oral bacteria’s ability to ingest glucose, starving them. For another, xylitol can help with calcium absorption, strengthening the teeth. If your child craves something sweet, then, consider treats with xylitol or other tooth-friendly ingredients.
There are sweets that damage the teeth. Make sure any of your healthy lunch ideas stay away from sweets that:
- Sticks to the teeth. As mentioned before, when sugars stick to teeth, it’s usually a field day for harmful oral bacteria. Similarly, eating sweet, sticky candies like toffee increase your child’s likelihood of tooth decay.
- Can break the teeth. While our teeth are quite strong, there’s only so much they can handle before they yield to pressure. If your kid tends to eat sweets like jawbreakers or hard candies, you might want to limit their consumption to hurt their teeth.
- Are acidic. Acid attacks are what usually cause enamel erosion and tooth decay. If your child has too much sour candy, this could up their chances of contracting these problems.
Last Healthy Lunch Ideas – Foods and Drinks to Absolutely Stay Away From
Chewy, sticky foods and candies
Surely you can imagine that chewy or sticky foods such as candies and caramels, if sticky enough, can easily become lodged between the teeth. Because these contain sugar, this makes for a great meal for the oral bacteria living in your mouth.
Citrus is, you guessed it, quite acidic. In fact, most of us know that acids aren’t the best for our teeth as they can deteriorate the tooth’s enamel layer. For this reason, citrus should not be eaten in excess. Additionally, citrus should not be allowed to sit directly on the teeth.
After eating or drinking anything acidic, wait for 30 to 60 minutes before brushing the teeth. Otherwise, the toothbrush will rub the acid harder into the teeth causing more harm.
Crunchy foods such as chips
Crunchy foods are also harmful to your oral health since they can become easily trapped within the teeth. Especially when consuming starchy foods such as potato chips, these are difficult to get out from between the teeth as they sit. Eating these require extra flossing for sure.
No, the sugar added to many sports drinks isn’t what truly makes them harmful. Rather it’s the acidic components of the drink which can easily erode the tooth enamel if often consumed.
Always wait 30 to 60 minutes before brushing after drinking acidic beverages such as sports drinks. Also, try looking for sports drinks with little to no added sugar to also aid the problem, or find other means of replenishing your lost electrolytes.
Soda & Juice
Both soda and juice contain sugar. Soda is sugary and quite acidic and can erode the enamel over time. Juice in particular almost always has added sugars, so perhaps try finding a sugar-free version of the beverage.