School Lunch Can Pack a Sugar Punch

Posted on August 19, 2016 in Children’s Oral Health

Many parents think packing a brown bag lunch for their child is a healthier option than sticking with the school lunch menu. That can be true — as long as you're mindful about the items you include! Try these easy swaps to reduce the amount of sugar in your child's packed lunch.

Ditch the regular cups of applesauce and grab a natural version with no added sugar or opt for a scoop of calcium-packed cottage cheese. Throw some blueberries or sliced strawberries on top of your cottage cheese for an added treat!  You can also try our sugar-free grape jelly on a classic PB&J to reduce added sugars.

Fruit snacks may seem like a good idea — after all, many of them use real fruit juice. But fruit snacks and fruit leathers are gummy and sticky, which means bits of them will cling to teeth long after lunch is over. Over time, this can lead to cavities. Pack real fruit, such as a banana, clementine or apple slices, instead.

Drinking any kind of milk will help kids reach their recommended daily amount of calcium, which helps build strong teeth. But getting children to switch from chocolate to white milk will help decrease the amount of sugar in their lunches. Download our flyer for more tooth-friendly beverage options to pack in your child's lunch.

If you're in the habit of throwing in a package of crackers or a bag of chips as a side snack, you may want to consider some more tooth-friendly options. Starchy foods break down into glucose just like sugar does. So even if the food doesn't seem inherently sweet, it can have the same effects as sugary treats on teeth and can lead to cavities. Great nutritional alternatives to chips and crackers that still provide some crunch include sunflower seeds, almonds, baby carrots and popcorn.