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Making Lunch for Kids? Beware These “Healthy” Foods That May Harm Teeth

School is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about your kid’s lunches for the school year. But be wary! There are many foods out there that are disguised as nutritious for your child that might actually be damaging their healthy pearly whites. Here are a few snacks to keep out of your child’s lunchbox––from your neighborhood dentist’s perspective. 

#1: Dried Fruit

Similar to fruit juice, dried fruit has a healthy sounding name. But don’t be fooled, dried fruit is very different from regular fruit. Not only does dried fruit lack the water content that makes fruit so nutritious, but it also contains a high amount of added sugar. For example, a regular plum contains about 16 grams of sugar, while a cup of dried plums contains about 45 grams of sugar. Since fruit naturally contains sugar, it’s best to stick to the original, where you can be sure no extra sugar is added.

#2: Trail Mix

In general, trail mix is a healthy snack. It’s loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats. However, when M&Ms or other chocolate candies are added to the mix, it can turn unhealthy very fast. Depending on the ingredients trail mix can contain an unhealthy amount of sugar and fat––not necessarily recommended for a growing child’s diet. 

If the trail mix you have in your cart contains candies or chocolate, skip it. A healthy alternative to buying trail mix prepackaged is to make your own! This way, you can be sure of the ingredients that are going into your child’s snack.

#3: Sports Drinks

Something seen in a lot of school’s vending machines is sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade. At a glance, these drinks are the optimum choice for your child’s hydration and recovery after sports-related activities. But upon further inspection, drinks like Gatorade are loaded with artificial sugar––as much as a can of soda. Your child would be better off with a bottle of water. It’s free of sugar, and it’s helpful in rinsing off bacteria and food particles. 

What Should You Pack?

If you’re feeling defeated about what to pack in your child’s lunchbox, we have a few healthy recommendations! When looking at foods that can damage your child’s healthy smile, you should also be on the lookout for healthy alternatives. 

Dairy products like cheese and yogurt are usually a good option; they’re high in calcium and protein, which strengthens tooth enamel. For a healthy snack, consider packing cheese sticks or cheese cubes. If your child prefers yogurt, pack a small yogurt cup––but watch out for yogurts that contain added candies or chocolate pieces. 

In addition to healthy cheeses and yogurt, crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots and celery can act as natural toothbrushes, and clean off gunk while your child is chewing. 

If you want more of an inside perspective from a dentist, talk with your dentist about the foods you’re currently including with your child’s lunch. They may be able to mention a few of their own concerns and offer healthy alternatives.For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call LeCroy Dental today.