Between endless school supply lists and new schedules shuttling kids to after-school activities, calling back-to-school season a hectic time can already feel like an understatement. If your child got braces over the summer, now you’re facing another challenge: how to pack healthy, delicious meals your child will actually eat and won’t contain food that could damage the braces.
Most kids are notoriously picky eaters. Favourite foods need to be prepared just the right way – crusts cut off sandwiches, apples sliced into bite-sized pieces – or kids won’t have anything to do with the food. Throw in the food restrictions that come along with braces, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for mealtime frustrations.
So, how do you pack a school lunch for kids with braces? At Docbraces, we understand that finding the right lunch foods for kids with braces is actually a pretty big challenge. Fortunately, we’ve learned a few tricks along the way to keep kids’ lunches healthy, delicious and braces-friendly.
What Foods Can My Child with Braces Eat for Lunch?
1. Avoid “off-limit” foods.
Does your teen love snacking on mixed nuts, chips or pretzels, or sticky candies? Unfortunately, all these foods are now “off limits”. Orthodontists advise against eating hard foods, like nuts, chips and pretzels, and fruits/vegetables like carrots, apples and corn on the cob. Biting directly into an apple, for example, can cause the front brackets or wires to pop off, not to mention get a big chunk of apple squarely stuck between the braces and teeth. Yikes! But it’s not all bad news. Your teen can still enjoy certain hard foods as long as they are broken down into smaller, bite-sized pieces, like small carrot slices or corn that’s been taken off the cob.
2. Soft foods are best.
Yogurt, oatmeal, puddings, baked potatoes, mashed avocados, scrambled eggs, pureed soups, smoothies and cottage cheese are just a few examples of softer foods your child can safely eat. This doesn’t mean your child must stick to an all-liquid diet, of course. For example, spaghetti with pureed vegetables in the sauce (like spinach and carrots) is an easy way to ensure your child is eating her veggies without risking damage to her braces.
3. Get creative.
Pasta salad every day for lunch will eventually get boring. Keep it interesting (and healthy) by mixing up recipes. Try a new grain like couscous or quinoa in place of your typical pasta. Melt a soft cheese like Brie or Munster onto your sandwich rather than cheddar or provolone. Craving an apple? Try baking it in the oven for 45 minutes and adding cinnamon and other baking spices to have a delicious and healthy version of an apple pie dessert.
4. Watch out for the ice cream trap.
As a parent, constantly saying “no” to your teen can get pretty exhausting. Plus, if your teen just got braces or had the wires tightened, it’s natural to feel badly about how much discomfort they may be experiencing. Soft foods like ice cream, pudding or even mashed potatoes (if they’re slathered in butter) should be treats limited to special occasions rather than full-time meal staples.
5. Skip the sugary drinks.
Pop and sugary drinks increase the risk for cavities. Since some teens can find it tricky to properly clean their teeth when wearing braces, sugary drinks only make the risk for tooth decay that much worse. Pop is not the only bad guy here– smoothies can be trouble, too! When made from yogurt with fresh berries, vegetables, and a dollop of almond butter, smoothies are a delicious and healthy addition to your child’s lunch. But if you’re buying your child’s smoothies from the store rather than blending them at home, keep a close eye on the sugar content. Always encourage your teens to rinse their mouth with water after eating. Even if they’re unable to brush teeth, drinking lots of water after a meal will help rinse small particles and sugars off the teeth.
Want more tips on packing school lunch for kids with braces and other recipes?
Ready to get a healthy, beautiful smile with new braces? Contact your nearest Docbraces to schedule your FREE consultation—you can visit our Halifax, Dartmouth, Moncton, Summerside or Charlottetown practices!