Mid-way through November, families are truly in school mode. While juggling a busy family schedule full of work, school, and other activities can be tiring, it is important to keep your children fuelled with healthy snacks and food. Follow these tips and suggestions to ensure your children (and yourself) stay healthy and energized!
Get creative with snacks. Show your kids that healthy snacks can be fun to both prepare and eat too! Try tasty combinations that look and taste great, such as apple slices with cinnamon, fruit smoothies, zucchini parmesan crisps, meat and cheese plates, and yogurt sprinkled with granola and fruit. Even using a Sharpie to add a smiley face or some type of design to the skin of fruits, like a banana or orange, makes the snack a little bit more fun and enjoyable!
Involve your kids. When making your grocery list, ask your kids to brainstorm about what kinds of food they’d like to eat. This is a good opportunity to help them understand what’s good for their teeth and what’s not. Then go grocery shopping together and teach your kids how to read the Nutrition Facts label so that they can check the sugar content.
Prepare nutritious meals. Snacking smart is great for your teeth, but so is eating well-balanced lunches and dinners. Make sure to add fruits and vegetables to every meal so that your kids become accustomed to them.
Be a role model for your kids. Your kids mimic what you do, so it’s crucial that you set the example. Send the right message by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables instead of sugary snacks that can cause cavities. And be sure to practice good oral hygiene in front of your kids; if you brush and floss after meals and snacks, your kids will follow suit.
Snack in moderation. The frequency of snacking is far more important than the quantity consumed. Time between meals allows saliva to wash away food particles that bacteria would otherwise feast on. Frequent snacking, without brushing immediately afterwards, provides constant fuel to feed bacteria, which leads to plaque development and tooth decay. Try to limit snacks as much as possible and to no more than one or two a day. Brush teeth immediately after consuming the snack if possible.
Here are some snacks that can be easily incorporated into their diet:
- Cheese is full of calcium and phosphate, which help to remineralize your teeth, or strengthen tooth enamel. It also stimulates saliva production, which helps to prevent tooth decay by washing away leftover food particles.
- Celery also enhances saliva production. It breaks down into fibrous strands that rub against teeth and clean them naturally.
- Apples and pears also induce salivation to wash teeth. These fruits have a high water content so they can neutralize the dissolving effect that acidic foods have on your enamel.
- Crunchy vegetables like carrots are great for protecting against cavities. Chewing on crunchy foods increases your chances of disturbing and dislodging food debris to stop the formation of bacteria.
- Nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts are chalk full of Vitamin D, which is essential to calcium and phosphate absorption. It also boosts the immune system to help fight bacteria from the mouth.
- Raisins are full of polyphenols, micronutrients that prevent bacteria from bonding to the teeth and hardening to form plaque.
- Fruits and vegetables. Offer fruits and vegetables as a snack instead of carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables that contain a high volume of water, such as pears, melons, celery, and cucumbers are best. Limit banana and raisin consumption as these contain concentrated sugar or if you serve these fruits, try to brush your child’s teeth immediately after they are eaten.
- Cheese. Serve cheese with lunch or as a snack, especially cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, and other aged cheeses which help to trigger the flow of saliva. Saliva helps to wash food particles away from teeth.
- Water. As always, water remains one of the healthiest things for your children and anyone! Staying hydrated throughout the day will keep your body, skin and teeth looking good and healthy. Make sure your child brings a water bottle to school and finishes each snack or meal by drinking some water to wash away food particles from their teeth.
But don’t forget to change it up! The same foods, especially if your child considers them “healthy” can get boring after awhile. Following this guide doesn’t mean your children can’t still enjoy sweets and regular snacks! They can still have healthy teeth while enjoying the occasional chocolate bar or ice cream – just ensure that most of the food and snacks they eat are healthy and teeth-friendly! Lastly, regardless of what food they eat, make sure your children practice good oral hygiene by continuing to floss and brush their teeth two times a day. Happy eating!
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