Kids come home from school hungry. Whether you send them to the bus with a sack lunch or have them munch on what the school provides, more often than not your kids burst through the door with news of their day… and an appetite.
This time of year, it’s a temptation to stave off your kids’ pre-dinner hunger pains with sugary snacks and candy. Autumn is here, and that means you’re back in the mood to bake (or, at least your neighbors, co-workers, and more domestically-inclined family members are). Halloween is just around the corner, with its brightly colored bags of candy; Thanksgiving, with the obvious pumpkin and apples pies, and then there’s Christmas, when everyone seems to be handed boxes of chocolates, packages of cookies, and hard candy. But all of that sugar can mean bad things for your little ones’ teeth! So what’s a busy parent to do?
Here at Watt’s Family Dental, your Overland Park dentist, sympathize with parents who struggle to balance their own hectic schedules with their kids’ needs. Whether you work in the home or out of it, we know it can be challenging to do what’s best. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five amazing snacks that can be prepared in an instant, or (even better) in advance, so when your kids are home, you can hand them something wholesome when they ask for a snack. All these choices are sure to please their palates (and yours!) as well as being good for their dental health.
Apples with Peanut Butter. Kids sure love chewy, gooey sweets, don’t they? Unfortunately, caramels, gummies, and fruit snacks—even the ones that advertise being made with real fruit—are terrible for your kids’ teeth. They don’t just stick to the roof of your mouth, they stick to your teeth and in between your teeth, inviting plaque and decay. Instead of offering a bag of fruit snacks, why not take a few minutes to slice up an apple and top it with a little peanut butter? Crunchy fruits like apples are great for tooth health. Chewing them produces saliva, which rinses your teeth (though you should always brush and floss after every meal).
Crunchy Veggies with Low-Fat Ranch. Apples go brown when you cut them up ahead of time, but not so with many veggies! Carrot sticks, celery chunks, cucumbers, and even broccoli spears can be made tempting with a make-ahead ranch dip. Just add a packet of powdered ranch dressing mix to some Greek yogurt and you have a nutritious and delicious snack. Crunchy veggies have the same benefits of crunchy fruits without the sugar, and yogurt contains calcium which is great for re-mineralizing your kids’ teeth.
String Cheese. Kids love cheese, and that’s great! It’s low in sugar and high in things like protein and calcium. They’re individually packaged so you can teach portion control, and the temptation to eat them string by string keeps your kids occupied… and the longer they take to eat a serving, the fuller they’ll feel.
Mixed Nuts. Nuts contain phosphorus, which is great for teeth, and they’re good for you. If your kids don’t have nut allergies, consider heading to your local natural grocer’s bulk bins for a combination of delicious, interesting nuts. They’re a great snack for any kid (or grown up) with a taste for pretzels or potato chips, giving you the crunch and salt you want with the added benefit of nutrition.
Edamame. This may seem like an unusual suggestion at first, but soybeans in the pod can be a great snack for hungry little ones! Low in sugar but high in protein, fiber, and vitamins, kids love popping the peas out of the pod and into their mouths. You can buy edamame at your local natural grocer or even places like Costco, either frozen (just microwave in minutes) or pre-cooked.
Whatever you choose to feed your children—even if once in a while it is sugary snacks—remember to have them brush and floss after meals!
This article brought to you by Watts Family Dental in Overland Park, Kansas. Our friendly office specializes in preventative dental care for the whole family. To make an appointment, please call (913) 338-3384 or click here to fill out our online contact form.