If your children are in one of the French school boards, you may have celebrated their return to class today. If not, hold on…just one more week and they will be back as well.

While back to school does alleviate that concern about planning what to do with the kids today, there is always the issue of what to pack in their lunch bags! We all know the foods kids want to eat…and we likely cringe every time we have them in the grocery store with us and they grab one box of processed, sugary food after another and ask “Can we buy this?”

Getting kids to eat healthy alternatives is never easy, but the benefits make it a battle we can never give up on. Most of us are well aware of the concerns we have with childhood obesity rates. Sedentary lifestyles combined with poor diets are major contributing factors to this growing health problem.

The affects of poor nutritional choices are something we see regularly at Rideau Dental Centre. Children whose diet is high in sugar, starchy processed foods suffer from higher levels of tooth decay. Yet so many parents continue to pile these foods into school lunch boxes thinking they are doing their children a favour.

While letting kids have some of these treats is ok, we recommend you make the effort to increase the amount of healthy alternatives your kids eat at school. And it really is easier than you might think.

Most kids love apples. So why not include apples in their lunch bag on a daily basis. Their mildly acidic nature is such that they are less likely to cause tooth decay than more acidic foods. Plus their crunchy texture actually helps to clean your children’s teeth.

We understand that children will get tired of eating apples every day. With the different varieties of apples, you can mix things up a bit. Still, the school year is pretty long no matter how many different varieties of apples there are; children might get bored with “another apple” every day.

Don’t be afraid to look for other healthy alternatives. For example, rather than an apple, you can switch things up some days with carrots or celery.  Just as crunchy as apples, they can have the same cleansing benefit on young teeth…something you will be very happy about when you bring your child it to see us at Rideau Dental Centre for his/her check-up.

So when you think about it, foods like apples really are perfect snacks for school lunch bags – and parent ones too! Never think that you are too big to enjoy an apple a day! Your teeth and gums, as well as your waist line, will appreciate the healthier alternative. Because nutritious snacking is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon