Everybody tends to snack between meals, some more than others. There are those days we are genuinely hungry and need that extra boost to get us to our next meal or it might just be boredom, something to cheer us up or a habit.
Frequent insults to our teeth with sugar feed the bacteria in our mouths, increasing the chance of tooth decay and development of gum disease. Sweets, chocolate, cakes, biscuits, crisps and fried foods should be kept as occasional treats.
Some healthier alternative suggestions are:
Finger foods for little ones – wholemeal bread/toast, breadsticks, banana, apple, carrot or cucumber sticks, rice cakes or cubes of cheese. Aim to keep sugar sweetened foods for mealtimes and try not to use them as rewards between meals.
As children grow up and become adults, other suggestions might be, a handful of unsalted nuts, protein snacks such as lean chicken, fresh fruit, egg cottage cheese, humous, plain yoghurt.
Be careful – smoothies and dried fruit have hidden sugars that are easily accessed by the bacteria in our mouth and some foods, such as fruit juices and citric acid fruit are highly acidic, which also damages teeth.
Remember that the frequency of consumption of sugary snacks is important – it’s still better to eat a whole bar of chocolate after a meal in one go, than snack on it bit by bit over an afternoon.