dental health advice long sutton

Healthy Lunchboxes

At long last (at least we are sure most parents will be thinking this!) our children will be returning to school in the near future. Now might be a good time to consider changing some “not so good” habits.


Most children enjoy having a treat or two in their lunchbox and, let’s face it, we like to think of our little ones having a little treat to look forward to and to keep them going for the rest of their school day. However, it’s easy to overlook the less obvious sugary treats and they can add up quite significantly. Have a look at this example.

Nestled, amidst the sandwiches lies a cheeky small chocolate bar and we can imagine them savouring it. In addition to the chocolate there is a little yoghurt, that can’t be bad can it? Unfortunately, not all yoghurts are created equal – often the products aimed to appeal to children (think cartoon characters or highly coloured tubes/tubs) are the worst offenders. It definitely pays to look at the label when you are buying yoghurts – look for the green traffic light labels and keep the higher sugar content yoghurts for the occasional treat only. If you struggle with reading labels, then think about installing the Change4Life Food Scanner app – an easy swipe of the barcode shows exactly what is lurking inside the product (and horrifyingly can show you the equivalent in sugar cubes!)

change4life food scanner
The Change4Life Food Scanner is quick and easy to use!

Adding a piece of fruit into the lunchbox is fairly healthy but it can also be high in natural sugar. Avoid dried fruit as it is much, much higher in sugar – they are also stickier in consistency, which is even worse for your child, as they cling on to teeth for a longer period of time and therefore cause more decay. (Generally speaking, the stickier the treat the worse it is for teeth) Of course, in an ideal world, some crunchy veggies would be better all round – think cucumber, pepper and carrot batons.

It’s worth thinking about sandwiches too – many white breads have added sugar and the fillings vary hugely. If your child is fussy and won’t eat anything but jam, look for a jar which is high fruit content and low sugar. Again, we’re afraid it goes back to reading the labels.

What does your child wash his/her lunch down with?

amount of sugar in childrens drinks
This little graph says it all… Always read the label or use your App

It is really important for children to stay hydrated but what should we be giving them to drink?

Unfortunately, there are shocking statistics for some children’s drinks and thankfully many schools have therefore banned them from lunchboxes. Even so, some small bottled or pouches of squash type drinks which look innocent are actually full of sugar.  So again, be careful as you can easily give your little one their maximum daily intake of sugar in just one pouch!

Of course, many drinks are also acidic, and this can make the problem even worse. Plain water is best for lunchboxes but if you can’t get your little monster to drink water then diluted sugar-free squash is the next best option (milk is great to drink at home but warm temperatures in a lunchbox make it less ideal). Wherever possible, encourage your child to drink water throughout the day and with their lunch – it is helpful if they can get into the habit of finishing lunch with a good drink of water, as this washes away some of the harmful acids and sugars.

We won’t lie and say we are all perfect (and we confess we are guilty of indulging in occasional sugary treats too, even as adults!) But, and here’s the important bit, keep sugary snack attacks to a minimum as the more frequent the sugar attacks the worse for your gnashers!

So finally, we hope that you all settle into your new routines when the children go back to school. Relax and enjoy not having to juggle the stresses of work and home schooling!

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