Tooth Friendly Lunch Boxes
We all have the best of intentions to fill our children’s lunch boxes with healthy and wholesome foods. However, sometimes we don’t make the right choices because of clever marketing, leading us astray!! In this blog I will outline some simple swaps which can be made to help keep your children’s teeth safe from hidden sugars in their “Tooth Friendly Lunch Boxes”.
- There should be four main food components in lunch boxes, namely;
Carbohydrates ie. bread or pasta;
Protein ie. chicken, ham or nuts;
Friut and/or vegetables
- Safe drinks to accompany your children’s lunch is water or milk. Milk will tick the calcium box above! Juices, dilute drinks ( even the no added sugar ones) , smoothies and minerals are all loaded with sugar and because our children sip these drinks throughout the day, there is a constant acid attack on the teeth surfaces. Parent say to me, my child won’t drink milk or water but really this is just a bad habit that children have developed and if there is no sugary drinks in the house then the habits will change over time.
- Swap the nutella or jam sandwiches for ham, cheese or chicken. Instead why not use cutters to make the food more interesting.
- Beware of hidden sugars in yogurts and yogurt- type drinks. Some of these have as much as 30g of sugar per 100g which is one third sugar. Get good at looking at food labels! We are used to looking at the kCal value, start looking at the sugar content and bear in mind that a yogurt above 10g/100g is very high in sugar and should be avoided. Why not create our own fruit creation using natural yogurt (which usually has no/very little sugar) and some fruit puree. Invest in some colourful small pots to make your child’ s lunch more appealing.
- Don’t be misled by so called “healthy” cereal bars. Nutrigrain and Tracker bars have almost 50% sugar because of the honey and fruit content. While breakfast cereals have added nutrients, most however, also have a very high sugar content. Brushing after our breakfast will neutralise the acid created after eating these cereals but cereals are not ideal for lunchboxes. Another surprise is that raisins are 70% sugar! I was even shocked by that one!
So what on earth is not harmful to our children’s teeth?
- There is a lot to be said for the old fashioned “hang sangwige” or even ham & cheese! This way, we will be ticking three of the food category boxes above.
- Cheese and crackers are a big hit in our house. The weekly shop always includes a few Dairylee Stackables (or similar product) but these are almost €3 each, so quite expensive. I have recently bought crackers, circular shaped chicken slices (from Aldi) and cut up cheese slices into triangles and this is proving a very popular snack. Even the baby likes these.
- I chop up kiwis, melon, grapes, mandarins and anything else from the fruit bowl and these are very attractive for the lunch box.
- I recently bought carrot sticks and hummus for myself to snack on and now everyone else is eating my hummus! I’m not complaining because hummus is full of protein and good fats and an extremely healthy snack. So recently this is also finding its way into the school bag. If your child refuses carrot sticks then bread is an alternative.
- Nuts are a good source of protein and an excellent snack. The problem in our house is that I eat them before they get to the lunch box. It should be obvious that candy coated varieties have some sugar in the coating! So they are out too!!
Good luck with the lunches!!