Getting your kids to eat fruit, veggies and yogurt instead of candy, chips and ice cream might feel like pulling teeth. But it's important to encourage them to eat "smart" snacks to help keep their smiles healthy and beautiful.
Using the "20 Smart Snacks" list below as a guideline, you can help your children have healthier teeth by loading your refrigerator and cupboards with nutritious foods. Then follow these tips whether you're transitioning your older kids to a healthier, balanced diet or just getting started with a little one.
Be a role model for your kids. Your kids mimic what you do, so it's crucial that you set the tone. Send the right message by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables instead of sugary snacks that can cause cavities. And be sure to practice good oral hygiene in front of your kids; if you brush and floss after meals and snacks, your kids will follow suit.
Get creative with snacks. Show your kids that healthy snacks are fun, too! Prepare tasty combinations that look and taste great, such as apple slices with peanut butter, fruit smoothies, meat and cheese rollups, and yogurt sprinkled with granola and bananas.
Involve your kids. When making your grocery list, ask your kids to brainstorm about what kinds of food they'd like to eat. This is a good opportunity to help them understand what's good for their teeth and what's not. Then go grocery shopping together and teach your kids how to read the Nutrition Facts label so that they can check the sugar content.
Prepare nutritious meals. Snacking smart is great for your teeth, but so is eating well-balanced lunches and dinners. Make sure to add fruits and vegetables to every meal so that your kids become accustomed to them.
Remember, your kids don't have to swear off sweets forever! They can still have healthy teeth even if they eat an ice-cream sundae or chocolate bar now and then -- just make sure that the bulk of the foods they eat are nutritious. Also remember to encourage your kids to brush and floss regularly, and be sure to make regular dental visits a fun and positive experience for them.