Australia is a country that prides itself on its healthy lifestyle, but it is dismaying to find that by the age of 12, around 48% of children have already experienced decay in their permanent teeth. Adults are hardly faring better, with the country’s first comprehensive Oral Health Tracker report finding that 90% of adults have some form of tooth decay, with alcohol consumption and smoking contributing to poor oral health. If you’re raising a young family and you often take them outdoors to enjoy the best of Australian park life, preparing a few healthy snacks for your next picnic in a beautiful nearby park is a wonderful way to blend the outdoor lifestyle with a healthy nutritional regime.
FOODS TO AVOID
A typical food families take to a park picnic is juice, yet research shows that sugary drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay. For one, they contain a high sugar content. More importantly, beverages can easily settle on tooth surfaces, where they can attract bacteria and cause decay. Parks are all about celebrating nature, so why not consume fruits in their natural state, and stick to wholesome, homemade treats made without sugar? We are ironically at a time when losing a tooth to decay does not have to mean the end of full functionality Treatments like implants in a day or digital smile design allow people to enjoy a ‘second chance’ when it comes to sporting a beautiful smile and enjoying food to the full. However, if you have kids, know that many of these solutions – like implants – are generally recommended to be left until adulthood, when they jaw is fully formed. Prevention is key, especially for children, since missing one or more teeth can affect their self-confidence and the way they relate to others. Natural sweets like fresh fruits and homemade treats are a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth with minimal impact on oral health.
BEST SNACKS TO TAKE ON A PICNIC
Aussies love a good outdoor barbecue and picnic, and the good news is that it is possible to enjoy these occasions while focusing on health. To keep teeth cavity-free and strong, focus on functional foods like cheese (which reduces acidity on the mouth), crunchy fruits like apples, carrots and cucumbers (which clean the teeth when you chew) and cranberries (which are rich in polyphenols that stop plaque from sticking to teeth). Make healthy desserts at home, showing kids you don’t need unhealthy sugars and refined flour to celebrate the great outdoors with a sweet treat.
RAW STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
This recipe is refreshing and guaranteed to be enjoyed by adults and kids alike, owing to its creamy texture. Made with fresh strawberries and completely free of gluten, it is a dessert you can indulge in without feeling guilty at all!
For the crust:
- 1 ½ cup Medjool dates
- 1 ½ cup raw walnuts
For the filling:
- 2 1/4 cups soaked cashews
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 5 Medjool dates
- Juice of two small limes
- A pinch of salt
For the top:
- 3 cups fresh strawberries
- 6 Medjool dates
- Juice of one orange
To make the crust, place the dates and raw walnuts into a food processor or blender, taking care not to blend out the mixture too smoothly. Pack the filling down into an eight-inch round pan or pyrex. Next, pop all the filling ingredients into a blender until the mixture is completely smooth and creamy. Pour over the crust and freeze for around three hours. When ready, pull the pan out of the fridge, cover with the fresh strawberries and drizzle the latter with a syrup made by simply blending the dates and the orange juice.
It is important to bring healthy dishes to a picnic, to show kids they don’t have to forego tasty treats to take care of their oral and general health. Make sure they brush and floss their teeth afterwards, since the pie crust can get stuck between teeth. While they’re at the park, they can keep teeth clean by chewing on sugar-free gum after their meal, leaving thorough cleaning for when they get home.
Lucy Lees is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across a variety of sectors. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her.