Better alternatives to bad summer snacks
  • Patient Education
  • Seasonal

Summer Snacks: The Good, the Bad and the Alternative

Long summer days mean plenty of warm sunshine and tempting sugary snacks. While you might want to reach for those sweet treats to help you and your family cool down, it’s important to remember that all that extra sugar increases the chances of tooth decay. So protect everyone’s teeth this summer by opting for better alternatives to bad summer snacks.

Avoid: Ice Pops

While ice pops are a classic summer snack that people like to reach for when it’s hot outside, they’re not a healthy and nutritious snack. Even though plenty of ice pops are low in calories, they’re also loaded with large amounts of extra sugar, and they offer little in the way of nutritional value. In fact, some small ice pops can have up to 8 grams of added sugar, which equals about 2 teaspoons.

Better Alternative: Homemade Yogurt Pops

While ice pops aren’t a great option for a frozen summer treat, that doesn’t mean you can’t have anything that will help you cool down. Instead, consider making your own yogurt pops. Simply add some frozen fruit and sugar-free yogurt in a blender and mix them together. Then pour the mixture into some ice pop molds and freeze them. You’ll be able to enjoy a cool snack that has less sugar than regular ice pops. Plus, eating dairy products can increase the pH levels in your mouth, which helps protect teeth from cavities.

Avoid: Sports Drinks

After a fun afternoon of playing in the sun, you might be tempted to grab that sports drink to rehydrate. However, you should think again. While sports drinks can replenish the sodium and potassium that you lose through sweat, they’re also high in calories and have plenty of extra sugar. Additionally, sports drinks have some of the lowest pH levels, which can cause tooth decay and erosion.

Better Alternative: Water

When you need to rehydrate after playing hard outside, nothing beats a glass of water. Not only is water the best way to curb dehydration, but it also contains no extra sugar, so it’s perfectly safe for your teeth. If you or your kids have a hard time drinking plain water, try infusing it with some fresh fruit. Watermelon and strawberries are excellent summertime options. When you do need to replenish electrolytes, coconut water is a natural source that’s low in calories.

Avoid: Ice Cream

While you might get excited every time you hear the ice cream truck coming down the road, you should think twice before indulging in this summer treat. Although it’s fine to treat yourself to ice cream occasionally, it shouldn’t be a regular treat. Just like ice pops, ice cream is full of sugar that’s bad for your health and your teeth. Not only will that extra sugar increase your risk of getting cavities, but it also breaks down the enamel on your teeth.

Better Alternative: Smoothie Bowl

If you need a sweet treat to cool you down, go for a smoothie bowl instead of ice cream. Smoothie bowls are thicker than the smoothies you drink. Since you have to eat them with a spoon, it feels more like eating ice cream. You can also top smoothie bowls with nuts, chunks of fresh fruit, chia seeds, and granola. To make a smoothie bowl, simply pull out your blender and add fresh or frozen fruit, milk or sugar-free yogurt, and any healthy extras you want to sneak in there, such as spinach or kale.

Avoid: Potato Chips

A bag of potato chips is such an easy snack to grab for a picnic or a day at the beach. Chips are also a staple at summer cookouts. While chips might be one of the most popular snacks in the world, they offer basically nothing in the way of nutritional value. They’re fried in oil, which makes them high in calories and fat. They contain almost no fibre and protein, and they’re loaded with sodium. Plus, potatoes contain lectins that can irritate the stomach.

Better Alternative: Kale Chips

For a healthier snack that’s full of vitamins, lower in calories, and easier to digest, make your own kale chips. To make homemade kale chips, pick up a bundle of kale from the grocery store. Coat the pieces of kale with melted coconut oil and then sprinkle your choice of seasoning over them. Some people like to go bold by adding curry powder, cumin powder, chili powder, chipotle pepper, or turmeric, while others prefer to keep it classic with just a pinch sea salt. The kale only needs to bake for about 15 minutes, and then you have a crispy treat to enjoy.

This summer, skip the unhealthy snacks loaded with sugar and fat that are bad for your health and your teeth. Whether you need to cool down or rehydrate, you can make a good choice by selecting one of these better alternatives.