Braces-Friendly School Snack Ideas
Back-to-school time involves a variety of activities for parents, including packing healthy, nutritious food their kids will love to eat. Fortunately for today’s parents, most grocery stores offer a wide variety of food options for school lunches and snacks. Not only are they nutritious and kid-friendly, they’re also easy on orthodontic appliances as well.
Quick & Easy Braces-Friendly School Snacks:
1. Fresh Fruit
When considering fruit options, the key points to remember are texture, taste, and portability. Fruits need to be easily portable, they need to offer a soft, non-stringy consistency, and if they taste good, a child will eat them instead of a sugary snack.
Many fruits meet all these criteria, including:
– Pear slices
– White or red (seedless) grapes
– Mango slices
– Avocado slices
– Pre-sliced apples
Fruit to Avoid: Any fruit that requires a child to bite into the whole piece of fruit should be avoided. This would include fruits such as whole pears and apples. Fruits with stringy textures such as pineapple, orange, and grapefruit, even if sliced, can present a problem if the fruit remnants wrap around orthodontic components. If these are some of your child’s favorites, consider packing a (no-sugar) canned version, as they’re usually less stringy than their fresh counterparts. Fruits that contain small seeds (eg. strawberries) are also not a good option.
2. Breads, Muffins, and Crackers
As with fresh fruit, key considerations for breads, muffins, and crackers center around texture, portability, and whether your child will eat them. It’s best to select soft options, rather than those with a hard or crunchy texture. A slice of banana or blueberry bread, or a low-sugar muffin are both tasty and very portable. Soft crackers come in a variety of kid-friendly shapes and flavors.
Here are some popular child-friendly favorites:
– Goldfish crackers
– Teddy Grahams
– Ritz bits
– Packaged soft pita bread and hummus is a great option for lunches or as a snack. These two often come in a pre-packaged duo in a variety of flavors, and offer a soft, easy-to-chew texture.
Items to Avoid: Any bread, muffin, or cracker that contains nuts and/or seeds should be avoided, as well as those heavily laden with sugar. Anything that can develop a jagged edge could be harmful to orthodontic components, including:
– Tortilla chips
– Corn chips
– Potato chips
– Any extra-crunchy and/or hard cracker
– Popcorn is not advisable either, since the hulls from the kernels can get lodged between teeth and the gum line, as well as around metal wires and brackets.
3. Pre-Packaged Snacks
There are a variety of pre-packaged foods that offer a softer texture and are usually well-liked by kids. The challenge is to find nutritious options that don’t also have strict refrigeration requirements. With any of the following options, be sure to pack those that need to remain cool in an insulated lunch sack and/or use a frozen gel pack.
Some pre-packaged alternatives include:
– Pre-packaged string cheese
– Pre-packaged cottage cheese or yogurt
– (Sugar-free) applesauce
– Low-sugar, high-protein puddings
– Meat sticks (not jerky) in beef, chicken, or turkey flavors
– Chopped cucumber
– Chopped black or green olives.
Items to Avoid: Pre-packaged foods that offer little in the way of nutritional value and/or that require strict refrigeration.