Whether you’re dreading the upcoming school year, or just can’t wait to get the kids back into the usual routine, we’re all in back-to-school mode. As the little ones arrange their school supplies and new clothes for the first day of class, you’re likely thinking about last minute things – like packing some healthy munchies for snack time.
Kids can definitely benefit from a couple of snacks throughout the day, especially if they’re involved in extracurricular activities such as sports or marching band. Providing the right snacks is the real challenge, though.
Yes, it may be more convenient to pack certain types of treats in a lunchbox, but avoid giving them snacks that are overly processed and high in added sugars and fats. Instead, opt for healthy snacks that are not only low in calories, but also serve as a long-lasting source of energy and nutrients. The benefits of nutritious snacks are multi-fold, like improved academic performance, increased cognitive awareness, and stronger, healthier teeth.
The following snack foods are supported by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which highlight the most current patterns for all ages. A healthy eating pattern includes:
Little Heroes Pediatric Dentistry supports the benefits of healthy snacks as a preventative measure for common dental problems like tooth decay. Check out the following convenient snack options to help your Little Hero combat Superbugs and reap the benefits of nutrient-rich foods.
#1 Cheese and Other Dairy
Just like the Dietary Guidelines suggest, opt for fat-free, or low-fat dairy options. Cheese is easy to pack when cubed or sliced, so it makes for a perfect on-the-go snack. Yogurt can also easy to carry in a cold pack and comes in a variety of delicious flavors for kids to enjoy – just make sure the type you pick isn’t filled with added sugars. Unflavored and flavored milks are also a good option.
Nuts are probably the most portable and convenient snack option for little ones. They are rich in healthy fats and protein to provide your child with extra energy for long school days. If your kiddo tends to gravitate toward those salty snacks like potato chips, nuts are a great alternative. Chewing nuts also promotes saliva production which naturally cleans the oral cavity and helps remove food particles and acid buildup that may lead to cavities.
#3 Fruits and Vegetables
In their developmental years, the quality of foods children consume can have long-lasting effects. Instead of pre-packaged snacks with little nutritional value, pack fresh foods like apples, kiwi, celery, cucumber, and sweet baby peppers and tomatoes. Fruits and vegetables are easy to pack, whether sliced or whole. They also promote saliva production to strip away that pesky residue that often lingers in a child’s mouth. Limit the amount of acidic fruits in your little hero’s diet as they can eat away the enamel.
#4 Lean Meats and Proteins
You may have to be a tad more creative in how you prepare and package these foods, but lean proteins are definitely worth the investment. Lean meats and other proteins like fish, chicken, and eggs are high in minerals like phosphorous, which protects the enamel. Hard-boiled eggs make for a quick snack, while chicken or tuna salad with veggies atop a whole grain bread or cracker can provide those extra calories to fill up your Little Hero’s belly. These energy-packed foods will provide your child with that healthy boost to get through any after-school activity or event.
Packing a bottle or two of water into your child’s lunch bag should be commonplace. Water is one of the most important weapons to fight against the Superbugs that can wreak havoc on your child’s teeth. Fluoridated water can help strengthen the teeth and make them more resistant to acidic foods in the diet. Opt for a small 8 oz. bottle of water over a sugar-filled juice box or soda. After your child is finished snacking, encourage them to swish around a gulp of water in their mouth to remove larger food particles that might linger.
If you haven’t brought your child in for a back-to-school dental checkup, don’t worry, there’s always time! Our pediatric dentists cater to the entire Rio Grande Valley with locations in Mission, San Juan, and Laredo, so we’re never too far from home. Our team of dentists can advise you on the best dental routines and foods for your Little Hero to enjoy stronger, healthier teeth.