Snacking -- it's a frequent ritual for all ages and a regular part of most kids' lives. Healthy snack foods can contribute to a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods, giving our bodies the nutrients they need.
The Daily Food Pyramid established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is a good guide to daily food choices. The best snacks for good dental health include foods rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals, free of cholesterol, virtually fat-free, and low in calories -- which are good reasons for enjoying them as snacks.
Foods containing fats, oils, pastries, candy, and other sweets should be eaten sparingly. However, food products that are high in these things often have the large advertising budgets and are heavily promoted to children.
Serving your children healthy snacks or having these ingredients on hand for them to serve themselves is easy and convenient. Teaching them early about making healthful food choices is good guidance that lasts a lifetime.
At least five servings of fruits and vegetables are recommended daily. Snacks are a good way to get them. However, even natural sugars found in them can contribute to tooth decay. Limit the frequency of snacking because frequent "grazing" coats the teeth in cavity-causing bacteria.
Some research has shown that when cheese or peanuts are eaten with or after carbohydrates, they may help to counter the effects of acids harmful to teeth. In any event, be sure and rinse or brush after each snack!
Here are some fresh, snack ideas from a children's dentist for satisfying and healthy treats:
Encourage children to eat healthy snacks but limit the frequency of snacking. Let them know that brushing between meals whenever possible is an excellent way to fight cavities. Don't let snack attacks become plaque attacks!
by Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO