The countdown has begun: Back-to-school time is here!

As you prepare your kids for their latest academic adventures, stop for a moment and think about the foods you are packing for their snacks and lunches. Most children make poor choices if left to their own devices, so planning ahead is key to keeping their skin, bones, teeth and gums healthy.

Be sure to add the following items to your child’s lunch box:

  • Dairy products. We all know that calcium builds bone. It also builds teeth, and kids of all ages require a strong dose of calcium. Your son not a fan of low-fat milk? Offer him cottage cheese. Daughter tired of mozzarella strings? Introduce her to the variety of Greek yogurts on the market.
  • Fruits and vegetables. Whether you make a salad brimming with cool, crisp cucumbers and kale, or a feast of apple slices, blueberries and guava, be sure to add produce to your brown bags. Have a picky eater who “hates” everything? Try exotic fruits and veggies to give him or her a “taste test” adventure.
  • Nuts. Although you need to be cautious when it comes to the servings of nuts available, as well as any nut allergy restrictions at your child’s school, nuts are an excellent source of vitamins and heart-healthy fats. Plus, they tend to be filling, giving kids staying-power… even through that math class!
  • Fish. The age of tuna fish has returned! Make yours using heart-healthy olive oil and lemon juice instead of mayonnaise to avoid unnecessary calories. Tuna is rich in omega-3s, making it a perfect anytime snack or lunch entrée.

Vending machines are the source of cavities in far too many children – and adults. Give your kids a reason not to buy junk food this school year. And be sure to make a Palm Harbor, FL, pediatric dentistry appointment with us if it has been six or more months since your son or daughter has visited a dental provider.