The final post in our series for school lunches and your children’s teeth, this piece will highlight our more senior patients. We’ve analyzed the breakfast and lunch options for our elementary school patients and we’ve done so for our middle school patients, now we want to provide a guide for our high school patients.
Below you’ll find a guide for what you should and should not be eating based on the breakfast and lunch menus provided by Fulton County School District. The high school menu’s can be downloaded on the Fulton County website.
Alpharetta & Johns Creek High School Breakfasts
The high school breakfast menus offer much of the same options as the middle schoolers, but have a little bit more when it comes to options. Where the high school menus have more options, they don’t change up the schedule very often. Every week of the semester, the lunch menus are exactly the same week to week.
This makes things a little predictable, but when it comes to knowing what you should and should not eat, having things the same every week makes it much easier.
Teeth Healthy Breakfasts
Assorted Fresh Fruit: Fruit is always a great option and a great fruit to always choose is apples. The schools will usually always have apples as an option and so for those who want something quick and on the go, apples are the way to go! Note, that not all fruits are made the same and you’ll want to avoid overly citrus fruits which contain acid. Fruits you have to be particularly concerned about are lemons and grapefruits, however it is unlikely this will be a fruit option. Oranges are usually an option and are citrus fruits, they don’t have nearly the same amounts of citrus and are okay in moderation.
Yogurt: Yogurt is something we talk a lot about in our blog. Yogurt and other dairy products have calcium which help strengthen the enamel of your teeth. There are different variations that are provided with yogurt including Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal and Poptarts. Often times cereals and branded products have less sugar than the very same branded products you’d see at the store. It’s important to look at the sugar contents of the cereals and poptarts. If your unsure, it’s best to just stay with the yogurt.
Cheesy Eggs with Sausages & Grits: This is a great option for your teeth because there is not an overload of carbohydrates with the breakfast. The egg and grits are great for the body and don’t contain the same sugars that other heavy carbohydrate breakfast options have. In addition, as opposed to cereal, grits are not loaded with sugars and can be a great healthy option for your teeth.
Sadly, we did not find very much that were particularly healthy for your teeth. Many of the breakfast options include heavy carbohydrates which are broken down into sugars and can linger on your teeth.
Unhealthy Breakfasts for your Teeth
The menu seems to feature many items that are packed with sugars. Some are actually pretty deceiving in that most people think items are healthy, when in all reality they are not good for your teeth.
100% Juice: Concentrated juice every day is detrimental to the health of your teeth. By drinking pure juice that is usually high in sugar, your teeth will be flooded with sugary coating that will eat away at your teeth. If the juices are calcium fortified, then it is something that you can be drinking, however if not, you will want to avoid consuming the juice every single day.
Smoothie with Blueberry Muffin: Neither of these options is a good option for your teeth. Smoothies, just like juices, can be filled with sugar and keep your teeth exposed to sugars for a prolonged period of time. Blueberry muffins are full of carbohydrates and the sugars of blueberries, which provides a double whammy of threats to your teeth. The carbohydrates from the muffin can linger on the teeth while the smoothie keeps your teeth under constant pressure from the sugars.
Nutri Grain Bar: Energy bars or any form of bars are usually bad news for your teeth. This is because these bars are usually tightly packed into bar form so that it is convenient and easy to take on the go. However, the only way for these bars to be kept together in this bar shape is through the use of sugars. The sticky sugars keep the bar together, however when consumed, the sugars will be exposed to your teeth.
French Toast Sticks: French toast sticks are also full of carbohydrates and when paired with the sticky syrup, it can be a huge mess for your teeth. Just like pancakes, many people can drench their french toast in too much syrup and essentially be placing coats of sticky syrup into their mouth.
Mini Pancakes: Mini pancakes are in the same boat as french toasts sticks. These are heavy carbohydrate meals that are often drenched in sugar and can often already have sugar added already. For many people it’s easy to go a little overboard with the syrup and expose your teeth to sugars a little too early in the morning.
As a pediatric dental office, our job is to make sure you have all the tools to keep your teeth as healthy as we possibly can. However, we are people too and we realize that it is very difficult to maintain a healthy diet and especially one that also takes into consideration your teeth.
Like anything else, we encourage you to keep it balanced. It’s okay to splurge on breakfast every so often, however you don’t want to be catching yourself eating the sugariest or unhealthiest items every single day.
Alpharetta & Johns Creek High School Lunches
The high school lunch menus seem to have gotten special treatment when it came to the design phase. The lunch menu for the high schoolers is color coded and offers fun categorization of the foods. Like we did for the breakfasts, we will walk through the best foods you should be eating at school and the ones you’ll want to avoid.
Teeth Healthy School Lunches
Chef Selection Salads: Leafy greens are always a great option as they are high in fiber and don’t have the carbohydrates and sugars of most breads and rice. Salads are great for your overall health in addition to keeping the enamel of your teeth strong. The salads are offered every day and so you will always have a teeth healthy option available to you.
Carrots, Celery & Other Vegetables: Carrots and celery may be one of the two most well known vegetables that are good for your teeth. These both are not the main entree course and are offered as a side, however we do encourage our patients to go for this option as both are excellent at helping scrub away plaque or your teeth.
Chicken: Many of the lunch entrees offer chicken. These meats are fine for your teeth as long as they are not sandwiched by bread or eaten with too much rice. Rice and bread are the primary source of the carbohydrates we keep talking about and will be processed with sugar. Though many people are accustomed to eating their meats with bread or rice, it’s best to keep it at meat and vegetables.
Seafood Basket: It seems like Fridays are the seafood day and when it comes to the seafood basket, it’s an entree that should be relatively okay for your teeth to be eating. Most seafood baskets will have breading on the seafood, but the main portion of the meal is going to be the shrimp or fish. Whenever the seafood options comes, avoid the carbs and bread, but eating the seafood itself is fine.
Unhealthy School Lunches for your Teeth
Like the breakfast options, there seems to be more lunch options that are bad for your teeth than are good. We’ll walk you through the foods that we are particularly concerned about when it comes to tooth decay.
Jamwich: Though peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple American meal, it is something that you want to take a second look at. Jam is concentrated fruit, which is often just concentrated sugars from these fruits. Therefore, these jamwiches are just sandwiches filled with sugar that will eat away at your teeth and cause tooth decay. Jamwiches are offered every single day, but are definitely not something you should be eating every single day.
Chicken Alfredo with Garlic Breadsticks: Pasta and bread are the carbohydrates we keep talking about that you should not be eating because of the sugars. The lunch options that are heavy on pasta and bread are the very foods that will cause these foods to linger on your teeth. These are definitely the foods that you’ll want to avoid when you see them.
Fresh Deli Subs & Burgers: Though sandwiches are not typically seen as a food that have negative health consequences, when it comes to teeth you have to remember bread is not good. And with many sandwiches, bread is the main ingredient. Depending on the sandwich, bread can also be extremely dense or rough, which causes more problem for your teeth as it is harder to break down and makes it more susceptible to get stuck in your teeth.
Nachos: We haven’t talked much in this guide about potato chips as schools now do not serve chips on a regular basis. Occasionally the school will serve different versions of nachos that can include cheese and some variations of cheese and other sides. These are not great for your teeth as chips and nachos are not only carbohydrates, but are also very tough to bite through for your teeth. And like bread, they can get stuck in your teeth.
Rolls & Waffles: Throughout the menu, lunch entrees will include some sort of protein and add it with a roll or even a waffle, in the case of the “chicken and waffles”. As you have probably guessed by now, for these dishes, you can eat the protein, but you’ll want to stay away from the breads.
By now you’ll have noticed a trend. Sugars and carbohydrates are what you want to avoid. Leafy greens, protein and dairy products are ones that you are okay to be eating. Like math or any class you take, memorizing every single menu item and whether or not they are healthy for your teeth is cumbersome.
It’s best to know just the general guidelines you should follow. The lists above should help you get started though and as menu’s change or if certain items come to the table and your not sure, just remember what to avoid and what is okay!
Contacting Your School
For our high school patients, you will be old enough to start taking your education into your own hands. When it comes to understanding what food will be served you will be able to see first hand what is served and contact your school administration on any questions you may have and special accommodations that might be able to be made.
Those of you who are parents and would like to reach out to the schools we have the local schools listed below.
Chattahoochee High School
5230 Taylor Road
Johns Creek, GA 30022
Johns Creek High School
5575 State Bridge Road
Johns Creek, GA 30022
Northview High School
10625 Parsons Road
Johns Creek, GA 30097
Alpharetta High School
3595 Webb Bridge Road
Alpharetta, GA 30005
This concludes our series of school lunches and what you should or should not be eating. Every semester the menus change and we will do our best to keep these posts updated to reflect the most recent menus that get published for the schools.
In the meantime if you have any questions or you would like us to expand on something else, please let us know in the comments!