Summer is a great time to encourage your child to eat better. Serving healthy meals and snacks provides needed nutrition while supporting healthy eating habits. Tooth-friendly snacks can help keep cavities, gum disease and other health conditions like obesity and diabetes from developing. Let’s dive into a healthy summertime “menu” to help your growing child’s smile thrive!
Most Important Meal of the Day
Healthy breakfasts are easy to make while delivering the energy boost they need to start their day. Enlist their help to make their food, so they learn good habits along the way! Fruit smoothies, fresh fruit and eggs are healthy alternatives to store-bought sugar-laden cereals. Whole-grain pancakes, waffles, or French toast are delicious and nutritious, especially when topped with fresh fruit and nuts instead of syrups. Nuts and seeds deliver healthy fats, vitamin D, calcium, fiber and folic acid to your child’s diet. Other breakfast favorites include:
- Scrambled eggs with spinach, wrapped into a breakfast burrito
- Whole-grain muffins with nuts and yogurt
- Yogurt with fresh fruit
- Cooked oats with fruit and nuts
Lunch and Dinner Is Served
Lunches can be quick to make and fun to eat. Tortillas filled with your usual sandwich favorites are a healthy and satisfying alternative. Brown rice, whole-grain pasta and salad are all nutritious summer choices. Don’t forget to fire up the grill for delicious meats and vegetables!
- Bell peppers: Take out the seeds and cut into quarters.
- Onions: Peel and quarter them.
- Yellow squash, zucchini, and eggplant: Cut lengthwise into rectangles.
- Portabella: Take off the stems and cut in half.
- Asparagus: Cut off the tough ends.
- Tomatoes: Small tomatoes still on the vine helps you pick them off the grill.
Throw them onto a skewer, and you will have a yummy kabob! Meat and fish provide phosphorus to keep your child’s growing teeth strong. Add grilled chicken or tuna to salads with beans or lentils as well as any vegetables in season.
Forgo potato chips and other carbohydrate-filled snacks that bathe your child’s teeth in bacterial acids leading to tooth decay. Crisp fruits such as apples and pears are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber your child will enjoy. Keep containers of cut-up vegetables in the fridge for your child to grab when they’re hungry in between meals. Crunchy vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, celery, green peppers and broccoli are nature’s toothbrushes since chewing them scrubs the teeth and stimulates healthy saliva production to wash away sticky plaque. They are also high in water, so they help rehydrate their growing bodies.
Another great snack between meals is cheese, which provides calcium and phosphorus for their teeth. Diced cheese or cheese sticks can be kept within easy reach of your child to grab from the fridge, and it pairs easily with fruit and vegetable slices. Cheese, milk, and yogurt are low in sugar, so they protect tooth enamel and help prevent gum disease!
Milk gives your child’s smile the calcium and vitamin D their teeth need while water hydrates the muscles, organs, and mouth and boosts saliva production (this protects the enamel and fights tooth decay).
- Celery with flavored cream cheese
- Variety of fresh fruits such as berries, watermelon, bananas, oranges, peaches, and cherries
- Pair carrot sticks, cucumbers slices, celery sticks, broccoli florets, or cherry tomatoes with ranch dip, hummus, cottage cheese, or salsa
- Veggie pockets made from whole-wheat pitas cut in half and stuffed with veggies, hummus, bean dip, or dressing
- Tortilla wraps filled with cream cheese and sliced turkey or ham
- Yogurt (drinkable, regular or frozen) paired with fresh fruit
- Whole-grain crackers and cheese
What to Drink?
Limit their access to soda and sports drinks since they leave their teeth coated in sugar and acids. Instead, flavor their water by infusing it with berries, apples, pears, watermelon, or cucumber slices. Citrus fruits are tasty, but they should be limited as they weaken tooth enamel if regularly consumed. If they drink through a straw, remind them not to chew on it.
Invite your child to help you organize their snacks or craft them into fun and different shapes. Your child’s teeth can stay healthy and their tummies happy this summer by making their meals and snacks dental-friendly! Please call our office if you have any questions about your child’s oral health or to schedule their next appointment.