School is coming at us fast! That means back-to-school shopping, first day jitters, and a return to stricter schedules and busier days. For many, it also means less time to think about, shop for, and prepare meals. Getting snacks and lunches packed is a chore in and of itself, let alone making sure they’re healthy. As you prepare for your return to hectic school schedules, it’s important to make sure kids are making healthy choices and have healthy options available to them.
Here are a few tips we here at Dentist of Cerritos have put together to make sure the transition from summer to school-year is easy, healthy, and even fun. Happy snacking!
One of the biggest reasons people make unhealthy choices is out of convenience. It’s often easier to grab a sugary snack from a vending machine than it is to seek out a piece of fruit. Grocery shopping is no exception. Pre-packaged snacks are often an easy alternative for school lunches and after school snacks, but they are also loaded with sugar that becomes a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria that destroys tooth enamel and leads to cavities and more serious dental issues.
One tip for healthy (and cost-effective) grocery shopping is to avoid the aisles and stick to the perimeter of the store. Most of what you buy should come from the fresh sections, typically located around the outside. Pick up those fresh fruits and veggies and leave the fruit snacks and cookies on the shelf.
Make trips to the grocery store fun and educational. Take the kids with you when shopping and talk about the healthy choices you’re making. Teach them to read the nutrition information on packaging and see just how much little bits of sugar add up throughout the day. When they understand why you are avoiding certain unhealthy options and they get to make some of the decisions, they can continue to make healthy choices into adulthood.
Keeping a variety of healthy snack options on hand helps kids avoid making unhealthy choices. Here are just a few options for quick snacks that you can keep on hand and that can be prepared in minutes.
Vegetable sticks and dip. This seems obvious, but it is one of the healthiest grab-and-go options around that can be tossed in a lunchbox or brought out during homework time. Cut up the kids’ favorite vegetables and store them in cold water in an airtight container in the fridge. Carrots, cucumbers, celery, and broccoli are standard, but you can switch it up with snap peas, green beans, sweet peppers, and jicama. For the dip, choose low-sugar peanut butter, yogurt-based dips, or hummus, and pre-portion them in small containers in the fridge. When it’s time, just throw a dip and a handful of veggies in a container or on a plate.
Quick refrigerator pickles. If regular veggie sticks are getting monotonous, pickle them! One of the benefits of this healthy, simple snack is that it’s fun to experiment with. Kids and adults alike will enjoy trying new combinations. There’s no cooking involved. Just follow these three easy steps. First, choose whatever veggies you like and throw them in a glass quart jar with garlic cloves and spices (peppercorns, bay leaves, dill, etc.). You can pack these in pretty tightly. Next, whisk 1 ⅓ cups water and ⅔ cup rice vinegar with 1 tablespoon salt and pour it over the veggies in the jar. Finally, put it in the fridge for at least 1 day, but up to 1 week and enjoy! Refrigerator pickles are delicious, crisp, and colorful. TIP: Try throwing in a few beets with cauliflower for a particularly pink effect.
Avocado toast. Traditional breakfast options like cereal, pancakes, or pastries are full of sugar and also leave kids feeling lethargic throughout the day. Instead, give kids a savory boost full of healthy carbs and fats. Either slice or mash a ripe avocado and spread it on whole grain toast. Springle with a little salt and pepper, or brighten it up with lemon juice, cherry tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, or a sprinkling of feta cheese. Serve this with fruit on the side or add some sliced hard boiled egg for extra protein. Avocado toast isn’t just for breakfast. It makes a great after school study snack!
Making healthy snack choices is great, but don’t be so strict that you or the kids are sneaking sugary treats throughout the day. Go out for ice cream or have the occasional candy bar. Just make sure you’re brushing after!
While making sure to eat healthy, low or no sugar snacks is one great way to keep your teeth happy, make sure to keep on a schedule for brushing, flossing, and regular checkups. Brushing teeth twice a day is an important part of oral health. Before kids rush out the door in the morning, and before they get that much-needed sleep, make sure they’ve brushed thoroughly.
While you are doing your best at home during these busy times, let Dentist of Cerritos take care of what you can’t. Regular checkups and cleanings will help to avoid more serious issues in the future. Make sure you are scheduling regular dental checkups as part of your oral health routine.
To schedule a back-to-school checkup or teeth cleaning that fits with your schedule, call Dentist of Cerritos today at (562) 414-5064!
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