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Oral Health Buzz

Healthy Lunch Ideas When You Can't Brush Your Teeth

Eliza Martinez

It's not a bad idea to brush your teeth after lunch, but most people don't think about it, or aren't prepared with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Most dental professionals recommend two daily brushings, so you don't have to be too concerned that you aren't cleaning your teeth after lunch. However, some foods that are good for your teeth are great options to add to your lunch box. Healthy lunch ideas provide your body with the nutrients it needs, but also keep your teeth looking and feeling their best.

Dairy Foods

Foods in the dairy group contain calcium, one of the most vital nutrients for keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Add a slice of cheese to your sandwich, drink a glass of milk, or top a cup of yogurt with fruit and dry cereal to increase your intake without much effort. Cheese has the added benefit of enzymes that help neutralize the bacteria that harm your teeth after a meal. Nibble a piece of lowfat cheddar after your midday meal when you can't or don't have time to brush away debris leftover from your lunch.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, and a diet rich in them helps stave off tooth decay. Berries, melon, pears, and apples are great choices. Try raw celery, carrots, broccoli, and cucumbers, either plain or combined in a salad with your noon time meal. Unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices offer similar benefits and make a good portable choice if you don't have much time to eat lunch.

Whole Grains

Whole grains contain more nutrition than their processed counterparts and are less likely to promote tooth decay than choices with added sugar. Make your favorite sandwich on whole wheat bread, mix some whole wheat pasta with vegetables and lowfat cheese or have a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal topped with dried fruit and nuts. These choices will fill your belly, but won't cause problems with your teeth if you don't get a chance to brush.

Protein

Proteins round out your lunchtime meal and most are low in sugar, making them a good choice when you can't brush your teeth after eating. Add some sliced chicken breast to your salad, have a tuna sandwich, or throw a couple of grilled shrimp into a bowl of vegetable soup. You'll be full and healthy even if you don't have a toothbrush handy.

A Word About Sugary Lunches

Just like most people, a sugar craving sometimes hits around lunchtime. If you can't or don't brush your teeth after lunch, sugary foods shouldn't have a place on your lunch list. They bathe your teeth in harmful bacteria that contributes to tooth decay. Avoid soda with your meal and stay away from candy and baked desserts. Save these treats for after dinner when you can brush your teeth soon afterward. Not only will your body thank you, but your teeth will too.

For more on healthy lunch ideas, visit the Colgate Oral Care recources.

Source: Flickr

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