Filling your kids lunch box with nutritious teeth-friendly food not only gives them energy to focus at school but helps to maintain a healthy mouth.
Some items do not belong in a healthy school lunchbox. We all know the obvious ones like lollies, chocolates, chips and fizzy drinks, but lots of foods are cleverly marketed to seem like a ‘healthy’ option. These can be full of hidden sugars and ‘decay-nurturing’ ingredients that can be detrimental to your kids’ oral health.
Things to avoid:
- All sweet drinks such as fruit juices, fruit drinks, cordials, sports drinks, energy drinks, flavoured waters, flavoured mineral waters, and iced teas are high in sugar. Artificially sweetened drinks do not add sugar to the lunchbox, but still encourage sweet preference and are often acidic promoting tooth decay.
- Dried fruit bars, ‘straps’, and muesli bars. These are usually low in fibre, high in sugar and stick to teeth.
- Chocolate spreads, jams and honey in sandwiches. These add extra, unnecessary sugar to the lunchbox.
- Savoury biscuits and crackers like ‘Shapes’ are simple, refined carbohydrates and starch that stick in teeth and cause holes and decay.
Instead swap out the pre-packaged foods for these healthy lunchbox hacks:
- Fresh vegetables like cut up carrot, cucumber snow peas and raw beans are also a great option – Try adding some nut butter, hummus or cream cheese in a tub too for a bit of extra flavour.
- Fresh fruits, either whole or cut up, such as apples, strawberries, bananas and berries. You can throw them into a container, make fruit kebab combinations of their favourite fruits, or cut them into fun shapes. Melon balls are often a winner.
- Cheese is a great option, whether it’s added to a sandwich, wrap or simply cut into cubes and put into a container. Cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help keep tooth enamel strong. Cheese increases saliva in your mouth, which acts as a natural defence against cavities and gum disease.
- Natural un-sweetened yoghurt is a great high calcium option. You can buy a big container and divvy it out (which also doubles as being cost effective) or buy the single serves. You can add in some cut up strawberries, fresh passion fruit, or mango. A quick and easy option is to buy the baby food no-added sugar jars of fruit like the ‘stewed apple’, which can then be added into the natural yogurt when the kids are at school!
- Nuts and seeds are arguably the healthiest protein source. They’re an excellent source of healthy fats, vitamin D, calcium, fibre and folic acid.
- Boiled eggs cut in half or try making them into mice!
- Unsweetened Pop Corn, Corn/Rice Crackers.
- Leftovers! Make a bit of extra spaghetti Bolognese or roast chicken and veg for the kid’s lunch the next day. Such a simple and fuss free lunch box option!
- Encourage your children to drink plenty of water during the day. Depending on their age, they should be having 5-10 glasses of water each day. Water not only energises and rehydrates your organs and muscles, it also helps create more saliva in your mouth. More saliva means less tooth decay and stronger tooth enamel.
Check out these links for even more ideas for lunchboxes, and idea for healthy snacks further down!