One of the biggest challenges for parents is packing a healthy school lunch. A healthy and nutritious meal at lunchtime is so important for your child’s energy and focus, and it also plays a significant role in their overall well-being including their oral health. We have some suggestions for you to try for your child’s lunch.
What are the best types of food to include? Here are our suggestions on the type of items to include in not only your child’s lunch box, but for the rest of their meals as well.
– Bacteria fighters. Include foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt or fermented vegetables, in your child’s lunch box to promote a gut health, enhancing digestion, immune function, and overall well-being.
– Vitamin C. Fruits such as oranges, strawberries, or kiwis provide a boost of vitamin C, which strengthens the immune system, aids in the absorption of iron, and supports the growth and repair of tissues.
– Protein-rich foods like lean meats, eggs, or legumes support growth and development, help build and repair muscles, and provide a sustained source of energy throughout the day.
– Vitamin D. Foods fortified with vitamin D, such as fortified milk or fatty fish like salmon, promote healthy bone development, enhance calcium absorption, and contribute to optimal immune function.
– Calcium-rich foods like cheese sticks, yogurt tubes, tofu, or leafy greens support the development of strong bones and teeth, aids in muscle function and blood clotting, and promote proper nerve transmission.
Remember to include vegetables in your child’s lunch box every day. Encourage children to enjoy the crunch and colour of raw vegetables. Try vegetable sticks with dips, or a container of mixed raw vegetables.
Cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help keep tooth enamel strong. Cheese increases saliva in your mouth, which acts as a natural defence against cavities and gum disease.
Cutting cheese into bite-sized cubes or squares is recommended to help your kids digest better. Just remember if you’re packing a sandwich to use “whole grain” or “whole wheat” bread instead of white, because these contain more natural vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are arguably the healthiest protein source. They’re an excellent source of healthy fats, vitamin D, calcium, fibre, and folic acid. Folic acid plays a major role in preserving gum tissues and preventing periodontal disease.
Despite being rich in Vitamin E, the shape and texture of almonds put damaging stress on teeth when kids bite down. So, if your kids love almonds, try to find almond slivers next time you’re at the grocery.
Include at least one serve of fruit in your child’s lunch box each day. Use fresh seasonal fruit whenever possible. Canned fruit in natural juice (with no added sugar) is also a good alternative. Dried fruit is high in sugar and can stick to teeth, resulting in dental health problems. It is best to include dried fruit only occasionally.
Fibrous fruits—or fruits high in fibre—act almost like a natural toothbrush while you bite and chew. Apples, bananas, and strawberries are all a healthy substitution for dessert in addition to being relatively cheap, easy to prepare, and very fulfilling.
Don’t forget to book your child in for a Dental Health Check! We have practices located in Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford and Kildare, appointments can be booked online (click on the Online Appointments tab at the top right-hand side of this page) or by phone on 0818 211 211.