No other word in the English language delights my four small children more.
Snacks are life for most toddlers and even bigger kids, because c’mon… it’s such a delightful between-meals treat!
As a holistic and functional dentist, I see plenty of kids who are enjoying snacks that their parents think are healthy… but are actually cavity-causers.
Sugar isn’t the direct cause of cavities, believe it or not. It’s actually acid, which is the byproduct of the breakdown of fermented cabohydrates. Think: crackers, fruit snacks, pretzels, popcorn, etc.
And those “healthy” granola bars you shelled out wayyyy too much money for?
“Organic” fruit snacks? Ha! Teeth are no match for their sticky, teeth-decomposing goodness.
My personal thoughts on snacks?
First, whenever possible, they should be from the refrigerator. Cheese, fresh veggies, eggs, or fruit.
Second, snacks should not be an all-day, ongoing activity. Cavity formation is directly linked to exposure time. For instance, eating an entire bag of not-so-good-for-you crackers in a five-minute time period is actually better for preventing cavities than enjoying just five crackers over a thirty-minute period. The longer we expose our teeth to these fermented carbohydrates, the higher the chances of developing a cavity.
Not to fear! I’m here with five easy, non-cavity-causing snack ideas for your child.
Sliced cucumbers + cream cheese + everything bagel seasoning
Dark chocolate + peanut butter + bananas
Hummus + veggie sticks
Warmed peaches + cottage cheese
Apples + cream cheese + cinnamon
These snacks are easy, not likely to cause cavities, and YUMMY!
But the first question most patients and their parents have for me is: what about snacks to take on the go?!
As a mom who also witnesses devastating childhood cavities for a living, I tend to steer away from snacks on the go unless we’re traveling a long distance in the car (a long distance for me is more than two hours). I figure, if we’re just running errands or driving to grandma’s house an hour away, it’s better to eat a filling breakfast or lunch right before we head out than to pack sugary, sticky snacks.
But who’s to say that apple slices and cheese sticks can’t travel with you on the go? All you need are some containers and a small cooler to throw in your bag.
Mostly, it’s a matter of training your children to not associate boredom with hunger. How often I used to toss a little container of cereal at my two-year-old when I simply needed to keep her hands busy! It’s our job as parents to teach them to listen to their bodies and eat a nutritious snack when they’re hungry, and go play when they’re simply bored.
Want more snack ideas? Check out this mini guide that I made just for you! Enjoy!