While you can ensure that your child is eating nutritious food and taking care of their teeth at home, it’s hard to make sure that they’re doing the same thing at school. Here are some tips to packing healthy school lunches for your child.
Healthy Lunch Tip #1: Choose Nourishing Food
Picky eaters and sub-par school lunches can mean that we pack our children’s lunches on most, if not all school days. Ideas for a healthy bagged lunch can include items like a serving of baby carrots or fresh peppers to complement a sandwich or wrap. As a general rule, carbohydrates eaten early in the day may not be the best idea for their energy levels—opt for foods high in protein and fat with minimal sugar and sodium.
A few healthy ideas include:
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich
- Sliced apple or strawberries
- Baby carrots and hummus
- Peanuts, cashews, or other nuts
- Cheese sticks or yogurt—seek out ones that are high in fat and low in sugar
If deli meats are a staple in your child's lunch routine, look for ones that are lower in sodium, and pair them with whole-grain bread.
Healthy Lunch Tip #2: Promote Teeth Brushing
As always, it’s a smart move to try to have your child brush their teeth and floss after their lunchtime meal. However, it can be difficult to make sure your child is following through on this. Letting your child pick out their own toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste tube might help the likelihood that they will brush their teeth at school.
If your child is shy or has apprehensions about taking their toothbrush and toothpaste to the bathroom, it might help to try Colgate Wisps. Colgate Wisps are disposable toothbrushes that don’t need running water or a separate tube of toothpaste. They may be more discreet for your child to use, or easier to use in general—you can just drop them into their lunch bag.
Healthy Lunch Tip #3: Choose Nutritious Lunch Drinks
Make sure that your child’s lunch beverage is a healthy choice. With all the running they're doing between recess and P.E., a bottle of water is a smart choice to make sure they're staying hydrated throughout the day. Additionally, a frozen bottle of water in a lunch box can also act as an ice pack. Vitamin D milk can provide vitamins and important calories to fuel an athletic child. Milk also contains calcium that helps protect bones and strengthen teeth against gum disease.
If your child prefers something different, 100% fruit juice is another smart alternative—look for juices that don't contain high fructose corn syrup.
Flavored waters (if they are sweetened with sugar) as well as soft drinks provide little to no nutrition, and contain sugars that will cause tooth decay. Avoid packing sugary drinks in your child's lunch.
Healthy Lunch Tip #4: Include a Stick of Sugar Free or Sweetened Gum
If your child is too stubborn to brush their teeth after lunch, another solution may be sugar-free gum. Check on their school's rules, but if allowed, including a piece of sugar-free gum or a xylitol-sweetened gum may help clean their teeth through salivation after eating. Saliva movement helps clean food out from the gaps and crevices in their teeth, and may wash away acidity on their teeth. Xylitol is a sugar alternative that has been shown to fight cavities and tooth decay.
Packing healthy school lunches doesn't have to be challenging. Involve your child in choosing what healthy foods they would enjoy eating for lunch. Once you establish the habit of knowing what lunch food to keep on hand, packing healthy and nutritious lunches will become second nature. Contact Dater Dentistry if you're looking for a dentist to establish oral care for you and your family.