Sometimes packing a school lunch can feel as challenging as trying to solve a complicated math equation. What, plus what, will result in a lunch your child will actually eat (and enjoy)? Add the criteria of “healthy” to the school lunch algorithm and you have an even more perplexing dilemma. Have no fear! When it comes to back to school lunches that are good for your child’s teeth—as well as healthy and fun—Dr. Anatoliy Ravin and the Hospital Dental Group team have your problem solved!
Basics for Back to School Lunches for Dental and Overall Health
What do experts like the American Dental Association (ADA) tell us about the connection between diet and dental health?
In addition to limiting sugar, the ADA and dentists recommend a well-balanced diet that includes lots of water (to wash bacteria away). As a quick guide to eating for best dental and overall health, try to incorporate the following into your child’s diet (including his/her back to school lunches):
- Lean Proteins
- Chicken, tofu, poultry, fish, dry beans, legumes and peas contain healthy lean protein.
- Fruits and Veggies
- Although fruits and veggies contain natural sugar, fruit such as strawberries, avocado and grapefruit are low in sugar and have several health benefits. Vegetables such as cucumber, spinach and celery are low in sugar and can be easily snuck into a wrap (see below).
- Whole Grains
- Quinoa, barley, brown rice and oatmeal are all examples of healthy whole grains.
- Certain Types of Dairy
- Certain types of milk, cheeses and yogurt can help give your child’s teeth a needed calcium boost. Dairy does contain natural sugars, so it’s good to keep track of how much dairy your little one consumes.
Five Back to School Lunch Ideas They’ll Love!
“Balanced diet” and “lunch my child will eat” can feel easier said than done. In a happy twist of fate, healthy back to school lunches are currently experiencing a fun, refreshing trendiness. The likelihood of your children not only eating but enjoying the following lunch ideas is better than you’d think:
- Ditch the Bag in Favor of a Bowl
- Nothing is wrong with a perfectly good PB&J in a Ziplock. However, taking a break from a packed sandwich will do you and your child some good. Use the weekend to boil a batch of rice or quinoa to prepare back to school lunches packed with whole grains, veggies, protein and fruit. Try making a quinoa bowl with avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and pistachios.
- Pizza Makeover
- Most kids love pizza. For a healthier version, make a pizza with a pita or Naan bread crust. Add northern beans and tomato or fresh veggies with a light olive oil base. Have your child help you make the pizza to give him/her a sense of ownership.
- Wrap It Up
- Whole grain tortillas and rice paper are the perfect housing material for lettuce, cabbage and teriyaki chicken or lightly seasoned tofu. You can pack all types of healthy food into a wrap.
- Bento Boxes
- Compartmentalized lunch packs inspired by the “Bento Box” trend allow for maximum back to school lunch creativity. Fill one box with strawberries, another with half a wrap (save the other half for a different day), the third with a small square of low-fat cottage cheese, and the last box with veggie sticks.
- Breakfast for Lunch
- Breakfast is a favorite for kids of all ages. You can even combine breakfast for lunch with a “Bento Box” theme. Divide a couple of tiny whole-grain waffles, berries, turkey bacon (or sausage) and a hard-boiled egg and watch as your box returns home from school completely empty!
If you’d like more tips on back to school lunches that inspire healthy teeth, gums and overall health, our friendly, professional and knowledgeable HDG team is on standby. If you’d like to schedule an appointment for your child or a family member, we offer comprehensive family dentistry services (for everyone)! Contact us at any time to get started: 860-524-5194.