Teaching your kids to eat smart early on has a big impact. Healthy eating in childhood builds habits that can last a lifetime, and can help prevent serious health problems. For dental health, this prevention begins early with sugar and sweets being a key factor in how cavities and tooth decay develop. Cavities are caused by harmful bacteria that feed off the sugar you consume. Sugar helps these bacteria thrive and they generate acids that erode tooth enamel. Super sweet food and snacks with a lot of processed sugars in them are especially harmful.
Luckily, there are plenty of easy snacks that can satisfy a kid’s sweet tooth without damaging it! Here are a few snack options to try at home:
Frozen bananas are a simple, creamy summer treat. They can be as easy as peeling a ripe banana, breaking it in half, sliding a popsicle stick into it and putting it in your freezer for a few hours. You can also add creative, healthy additions like dipping your bananas in yogurt, applesauce, or tahini and rolling them in nut pieces or shredded, unsweetened coconut. Wrapping bananas in wax paper or placing them in a cup to freeze helps keep your freezer tidy.
Yogurt parfait is a great, nutritious “fun food” for kids. In a clear cup, layer spoonfuls of low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit and berries. Let your kids help layer a rainbow of flavors, and top with unsweetened, shredded coconut and granola.
Avocado Banana Pudding
Avocados have a great texture when mashed and with the help of fruit sweeteners can be turned into a creamy pudding. Try blending together one ripe, medium avocado with two bananas for a simple, sweet pudding. You can add to the flavor easily. Try a spoonful of cocoa powder and a dash of cinnamon for a chocolate variation. You can add a little unsweetened coconut milk and diced mango for a rich tropical flavor.
Skewers are another great activity food for kids that teaches them to eat healthy. To start, get a bunch of grapes, a banana, some strawberries and an apple. Slice the apple into chunks and cut the banana into sixths. Then help your child slide fruit pieces onto a wooden skewer. In hot weather, you can freeze these overnight for a refreshing popsicle-like treat.
Sweet Potato Fudge
Mashed sweet potatoes have a natural sweetness and warmth that can make them the base for delicious, filling cold-weather dessert. To make sweet potatoes that mimic chocolate fudge, simply mash a fully cooked sweet potato with 2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa. When the cocoa is fully mixed into the mash, gradually add 2 tablespoons of 100% pineapple juice to the mixture. The mixture should be fudgy and thick, and you can add small amounts of cocoa and juice to adjust the taste. For added flavor you can add cinnamon or a few drops of vanilla to the fudge.
Melon Ball Sundae
Bright, delicious melon balls are a great snack for kids in an appealing round shape. Use a melon baller to scoop out melon into a bowl. Multiple varieties and colors of melon can be an extra festive touch. Top with a splash of lime or a drizzle of unsweetened coconut milk for extra flavor and flair.
Yogurt Rice Pudding
Yogurt is a great food for strengthening tooth enamel and promoting dental health. You can make a quick variation on rice pudding with yogurt that tastes great and is good for your teeth. Use a low-sugar vanilla yogurt for your pudding. For each cup of yogurt, add a half cup of cooked-and-cooled rice. Mix the yogurt and rice completely and top with a dusting of cinnamon.
This easy and conveniently packaged snack is perfect for kids. This easy to peel apart snack gives your child a great source of calcium and is considered acceptable to play with. Perfect addition to your child’s lunch box.
Apples and Peanut Butter
This combination is perfect for keeping children feeling fuller longer while still giving them the right nutrients they need. It is best to use natural peanut butter that consists of only peanuts and salt. This will limit the sugar intake and create a healthier and more balanced snack for kids at any time of the day. Get creative and use different types of nut butters with different types of apples. This can include almond butter and sunflower seed butter.
Water or Milk
It’s important to have a glass of water or milk with your snack to wash away any food stuck in grooves of teeth. If neither of those are available, a sugar-free piece of gum works as a great alternative!
Putting your kids on the path to healthy snacking will pay off with better habits and better teeth. Here at Fox Kids Dentistry & Orthodontics we’re here to help you wear your best smile.