Monday, 28 September 2015

Tooth Friendly Nutrition for the Active (and Scheduled) Child

For the busy child, risk of dental caries (cavities) is high. Being out of the house for long periods of time means eating on the go. I find myself face to face with an important question when supporting the dental health of busy families in our communities: How can I provide easy to use information so parents feel empowered to feed their kids tooth friendly snacks on the road between school, dance, swim, hockey, piano, etc.? 

The landscape of articles on healthy and time convenient snacks for kids on the go is vast. Detailed lists of ingenious recipes are an easy Google search away. The parental toolbox is full, and back pockets of tricks are brimming at the seams, but with that, I would like to squeeze another conversation into the mix – one that focuses on food choices for nutrition breaks supporting dental health.

For busy families the equation can be quite simple by choosing tooth healthy foods and limiting the frequency (not amount) of carbohydrates. This means enjoying a nutrition period of 10-15 minutes, followed by a couple of hours of no food (water only). Carving out time for our teeth to have a break allows acids in the mouth to neutralize and teeth to re-mineralize rather than decay.

The goal of a nutrition period is to nourish the child with plentiful energy.This can be done by enjoying snacks full of proteins and fats while limiting the carbohydrates to crisp veggies and fruits, which won’t stick easily to our teeth.  Proteins and fats are ideal sources of energy– you get more calories per gram of food and it won’t get metabolized by cavity causing bacteria, meaning only your child gets fed, not their sugar bugs.

Here is a list of some great on the go tooth healthy foods to include in your child’s nutrition break:
Veggies such as carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, peppers, snap peas
Kale chips or dried seaweed
Dairy choices such as plain yogurt and cheese cubs
Pepperoni sticks
Nuts and sugar free nut butters or soy butter alternatives
Tofu sticks

As the title of this article suggest these ideas are for active and scheduled children, meaning busy parents too. If buying packaged foods is your time saving go to, be sure to read the Nutrition Facts box, selecting products with higher fats and proteins and lower carbohydrates and sugars.

It is what we eat and when we eat that make a significant impact on dental health for kids and for the whole family. Adding these tips to your child’s daily routine will make them feel satiated and energized while making their teeth, mouth, and of course their dentist smile!