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Great School Lunch Ideas for Your Children with Braces

As school starts back up, it’s time to plan your children’s lunches. Of course, you want something healthy, fun, and delicious, but what if your child has braces?

Life with braces doesn’t have to be difficult for your child, but there can be a bit of a learning curve with school lunches. You want to plan school lunches carefully because you don’t want any unsuitable foods to dislodge your child’s braces, break any brackets or get stuck in the wires.

To give you some ideas and keep lunches healthy and fun, here is a guide for packing your children’s school lunch if they have braces.

Foods to Avoid

When your child has braces, there will be limits on what they should and shouldn’t eat. Unfortunately, some of the foods they may have once enjoyed might no longer be an option.

Any crunchy, hard food or sticky, gummy food will need to be avoided. While this includes lots of candy, it can also include some healthier food options. Foods that require your child to bite into them (such as carrots or apples) should be avoided too.

Here’s a quick list of what you should avoid. Although not exhaustive, this is a good place to start.

  • Hard foods: apples, nuts, carrots, corn on the cob, popcorn, and hard pretzels
  • Sticky foods: beef jerky, candy, gum, licorice, and caramel
  • Chewy foods: bagels

If you aren’t sure about a particular food, talk to your child’s orthodontist. When in doubt, it’s better to avoid a specific food item rather than risk it.

Safe Foods

Even though the list of foods to avoid seems rather long, there is still a lot you can include in your child’s lunch. Anything soft but not sticky or too chewy is safe.

Here are some of the most popular, “safe” foods to include in your child’s lunches.

  • Prepared foods: sandwiches, egg salad, soup, and pasta
  • Fresh, bite-sized, or soft fruit: bananas, strawberries, cut up mangos or pineapple, and berries
  • Cooked veggies: when uncooked, many veggies can damage your child’s braces. Instead, try steaming or cooking veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans.
  • Soft foods: yogurt, pudding, applesauce, and jello
  • Lunch meats: any meat that isn’t on a bone or needs to be bitten into is safe. This includes chicken, lunch meats, tuna, and sliced ham.

Lunch at School

If your child normally eats lunch at school, make sure they know what foods they can and can’t eat. If available, try to get a meal calendar so that you know what’s being served each day.

Most schools have braces-friendly meals because so many students have braces each year. They may be able to advise you on specific meals that are or aren’t okay for your child as well, but here’s a quick list.

  • Pasta
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft pizza
  • Rice and quinoa
  • Soup, chili, and taco salad
  • Casseroles
  • Fish sticks and chicken nuggets
  • French fries
  • Sloppy joes

When your child has braces, you don’t have to worry about the hot lunches served. If you can get a meal schedule and know which days don’t have braces-friendly meals, then you can provide your child with a lunch that’s safe for them to eat.


Hundreds of children get braces every year, which means many parents worry about packing their lunch. While it can be a daunting task, finding and packing meals for your children is still manageable with a little bit of planning. Your child won’t be the only one in their school with braces, either. Even with braces, lunchtime can be fun.