We can’t believe that summer is over and school is back in session. For our Claremore and Tulsa orthodontic patients, that means it’s time to get back into a regular routine of early wake-ups, homework sessions and of course, healthy school lunches. At The Brace Place, we know how hectic school day mornings can be: you have to get your kids ready, pack lunches and get them to school before the bell rings. And if your child or teen got braces over the summer, packing braces-friendly lunches takes even more thought and preparation.
Preparing back-to-school lunches for kids with braces doesn’t have to be complicated. Once you know exactly what your child can (and cannot) eat, it’ll be easier than ever to create nutritious meals and snacks your kids will love. To help you start the school year off right, here are our favorite braces-friendly lunch ideas for kids and teens.
Foods to Avoid with Braces
Before we get to fun and healthy lunch ideas for braces, it’s important to be clear on what your child should avoid eating during treatment. Your child is already getting used to so many changes right now — from the smile they see in the mirror to new oral hygiene routines. It’s a parent’s job to ease the transition to life with braces as much as possible, starting with braces-friendly foods.
While your child or teen can still enjoy most of their favorite foods with braces, there are a few things they’ll have to avoid until treatment ends. This includes sticky, crunchy, hard and chewy foods, and anything you have to bite into (like whole apples and corn on the cob). These foods can get caught in braces, making it harder to clean teeth effectively, or could even damage the brackets, meaning your child will need more appointments than necessary to keep treatment on track. To avoid treatment delays, avoid these foods when preparing your braces-clad child’s school lunches:
- Chewing gum (unless it’s sugar free!)
- Hard candies
- Foods you have to bite into (such as apples, carrots or corn on the cob)
Easy, Braces-Friendly School Lunches
Sandwiches: While you’ll want to avoid chewy breads like bagels during your child’s treatment, soft bread, like sandwich bread, is totally safe. Sandwiches are the perfect braces-friendly meal because they’re so versatile. Peanut butter and jelly, turkey and cheese, tuna salad — no matter what your kids’ preferences, there’s an easy-to-eat sandwich they’re sure to love.
Fresh Fruit: As we said, whole apples are a no-go with braces because biting into a whole fruit can cause damage. But there are tons of fresh fruits that are easy to eat with braces. Try bite-sized fruits like berries, soft fruits like bananas, or cut-up fruits like mangoes and pineapples. Even apples can be on the menu, as long as they’re cut into small chunks or slices.
Pasta: For a super easy lunch that’s safe for braces (and a total crowd pleaser), whip up a simple pasta dish or even pasta salad. The best part is you can prep pasta ahead of time and have it ready to go, so you can spend less time worrying about school lunches for your teen or child with braces. Check out one of these braces-friendly recipes. After all, everyone loves pasta, right?
Steamed Veggies: To give your kids’ lunches a healthy boost, pack steamed veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Eating these veggies raw could cause damage to your child’s hardware, but steaming them makes them soft enough to eat without risk.
Soup: The best foods for kids with braces require minimal chewing, so soup fits the bill perfectly. Store-bought soups can be healthy — just watch out for added sugars and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Or try one of these delicious, healthy, homemade soup recipes! To make sure the soup is still warm when lunchtime comes, use one of these awesome thermoses.
Yogurt: Yogurt is one the best snacks for kids and teens with braces because it’s not only soft and easy to digest, but it’s cold, too. Your child’s teeth will likely be sensitive as the braces work their magic. Cold foods can be soothing and can help to alleviate discomfort. Just like with store-bought soups, check labels for added sugars and any harmful additives. Better yet, get plain yogurt and add your own healthy, fresh fruit!
Preparing braces-friendly lunches might take a little extra forethought, but with a little creativity and planning, it’ll be easy as pie. Do yourself the favor of planning meals ahead of time by creating a lunch schedule for each day of the week. If you have time on Sundays, you can even meal prep for the week ahead to save time on school day mornings. And if you ever have questions about what your child can eat with braces, give The Brace Place a call. We’re always here to help.