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4 Lunchbox Favorites That are High in Sugar (And What to Pack Instead)

By October 9, 2023December 19th, 2023Community, Kids Dentistry, Orthodontics

Packing your kids’ lunches is a fine art, am I right? After all, you’ve got to find a balance of nutrition, quantity, and covering all the food groups. Oh, and it has to be yummy so your kids will actually eat it. With all this to think about and all the food options out there, we at Kids Mile High Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics understand when a few not-so-healthy foods that are high in sugar find their way into the lunch kit.

So How Does Sugar Affect Kids’ Teeth?

By now, it’s common knowledge that too much sugar is not good for our kids’ overall health. But your Denver-area, board-certified pediatric dentists, Dr. Paddy, Dr. Roger, and Dr. Meredith, are also here to remind you that excess sugar is not ideal for the health of your kids’ teeth. Does sugar cause cavities? Simply put, yup; we can confidently say that it’s the main culprit behind tooth decay and cavities.

You’d be surprised at some snacks that are typically promoted as “healthy snacks,” options that any dentist would advise you to steer clear of. Keep reading to find four such examples from your Kids Mile High team of healthy low- or no-added-sugar alternatives for kids that’ll still get the thumbs up — and go a long way in helping with cavity prevention for your kids.

  1. Granola and Cereal Bars

Featuring star ingredients like oats, grains, and sometimes nuts, store-bought granola and cereal bars are a trickster of the kid snack world. You might think they’re one of the good guys — one of the healthy school lunch ideas you can rely on — but some have loads of sugar.

Always check the nutrition info on premade granola and cereal bars and consider how much sugar will contribute to your kids’ daily intake. The American Academy of Pediatrics says kids should have no more than 25 grams or six teaspoons of sugar per day.

What to Pack Instead: No need to cut out granola and cereal bars completely. Alongside the ones high in sugar you’ll find low sugar granola bar snacks for kids that still taste like a treat. Take a look at MadeGood bars and bites or KIND bars.

  1. Juice Boxes

Not long ago, parents didn’t think twice about packing a juice box into their kid’s lunch. But today, we now realize that those standard-issue drink boxes actually contain a lot of sugar for the amount and type of fruit servings they provide. Even a slim, 177ml apple juice has an average 19 grams of natural sugar. That’s only 6 grams shy of the recommended total limit for kids — and it doesn’t come with the fiber or protein that helps minimize spikes in blood sugar.

What to Pack Instead:

Many schools suggest that students bring a refillable water bottle to school everyday. Tap water doesn’t have any sugar and typically has a bit of fluoride to help strengthen kids’ teeth.

If you want to occasionally pack juice, opt for low sugar drinks in your snacks for kids arsenal. These Honest Kids or Juicey Juice fruit punches each have only eight grams of sugar per container.

  1. Sweet Yogurts

Like granola bars, yogurt is one of those sneaky snack foods that can be high in sugar. The sugar listed on a flavored yogurt doesn’t distinguish between sugars naturally occurring from the milk, yogurt base, fruit, or added sugars. An average amount of sugar in a six ounce cup of sweetened yogurt typically varies between 23-29 grams of sugar. But comparing the sugar content in the same amount of plain yogurt can give you a good idea of how much extra sugar comes from the additional ingredients.

What to Pack Instead:

It’s fair to say that plain yogurt isn’t a taste for everybody, especially kids. But non-flavored yogurt that you add your own fresh fruit into can be a kid-approved go-to on your list of healthy snacks for kids. Sweetness hack? A bit of vanilla extract makes the yogurt taste sweeter but doesn’t add sugar.

  1. Gummy Fruit Snacks

Don’t let the name trick you; though some brands have real fruit in the form of juice or puree, there’s also corn syrup and straight sugar. Like candy!

What to Pack Instead:

At Kids Mile High, we see those fruit snack pouches and raise you no-added-sugar fruit snacks like… drum roll, please… actual real fruit! Yes, real fresh (or frozen!) fruit is sweet, has vitamins for teeth, and comes with healthy extras like fiber and antioxidants.

Team Up with Kids Mile High for Keeping Your Kids’ Teeth Strong

Now that you’re more informed about lunch box foods high in sugar and what you can swap them out with, we’ve got one final suggestion for building awesome habits for healthy teeth: make sure you visit us for regular dental health cleaning and exams! The Kids Mile High team is your award-winning, kid-friendly kids’ pediatric dentist in Denver, CO, with colorful, high tech offices that make visits comfortable and fun.

Contact us at one of our three Denver-area offices today! We’re here to help Central Park, Englewood, and Thornton families kickstart a lifetime of happy, healthy smiles for their kids.