My 12 year old recently got fitted with braces – top and bottom – and I couldn’t have been more poorly prepared for the next few days. She could barely tolerate talking, and anything that couldn’t be slurped was completely out of the question.
It turns out its not that easy to feed your tween a filling, tasty and varied liquid diet without a bit of forward planning. Since I’m expecting at least a couple of days of soreness after every orthodontist visit for the next 18 months(!), I’ve put together some ideas – homemade and store-bought – to get her through without existing solely on yoghurt.
I’ll preface this list with a warning – some of these items are not part of the nutritious, whole foods diet that we should be striving to feed our growing kids. And you’ll definitely be surprised to see some of these foods being recommended by a naturopath! But consider it as a moment in time – your child will likely feel sore and miserable, but they still need to eat! Providing some more processed options for a few days can help to ease them through it, and then you can get back to normal.
- Blended soups – The easiest way to get a variety of veggies in – pumpkin, sweet potato, tomato, red pepper, spinach – and you could add some red lentils for protein and fibre. Load it up with garlic and onion, blitz until smooth and add some cream or coconut cream to thicken it up and add important fats.
- Chia pudding – A good one as breakfast or an after school snack – chia seeds are a good source of essential fats, protein, iron and calcium. The tiny seeds can get stuck in your teeth so I blend this up too and leave in the fridge overnight to set. The basic ratio is 1 part chia seeds to 4 parts liquid – I like it with coconut milk but you could use any plant or dairy milk here. Sweeten with maple syrup and add cacao and vanilla to taste to make a rich chocolate “pudding”.
- Mashed avocado – This was her at-home staple. Avocado is a great source of fibre, good fats and B vitamins for energy. Mash it up with some salt and lemon juice.
- Soft scrambled eggs – Scramble eggs with cream to make them super soft. It took her a couple of days to get to the stage where she could handle these but its a great way to add protein and fat, and easy to make for breakfast or dinner.
- Smoothies – Quick and easy for breakfast or after school – limit the fruit component to 1/4 cup so it doesn’t become a sugar bomb. Add in spinach or kale, some protein powder, a spoon of nut butter and you’ve got a pretty substantial option to keep the hunger at bay.
- Yoghurt – The yoghurts marketed as ‘high protein’ are better options as they will keep your hungry tween satiated for longer. And they tend to have less sugar. For example, Anchor Protein+, Yoplait Max Protein, and Dairyworks Protein Fit. Coconut yoghurt is generally quite rich and filling – its usually higher in fat and lower in sugar than its dairy-based counterparts and a good choice for those who are limiting or avoiding dairy, or simply for variety.
- Pre-packaged soups – The advantage of pre-packaged soups is that you can easily offer a variety of options and find something that appeals to your tween, who is likely to feel quite miserable (mine was sore, hungry and self-conscious). We had a stash of cup-a-soup sachets on hand for after school, nutritionally there’s not much to them, but my girl really loved the salty taste after a day of sweet yoghurt.
- Fruit puree – Available in sachets like ‘Fruit Hitz’, these were a no-go in my house because they look too much like baby food. There’s not much in them to keep a hungry kid going for the day but they can be frozen overnight and popped in lunchboxes to provide some relief for a sore mouth.
- Milkshakes/flavoured milk/protein shakes – Almost always high in sugar, but at least the ones marketed as ‘high protein’ are a bit more satiating to help your tween get through the school day without collapsing in a heap.
- Noodle cup – Completely un-naturopathic! But hey, its for a short time. Apparently these are socially acceptable and can be taken to school (whereas, say, homemade soup in a thermos might be off the cards). The noodles are soft enough that they can be slurped, maybe not on the first or second day of orthodontic treatment but they can add variety as you progress your child back towards their normal diet.
What have I missed? What helps/helped your child when they had braces fitted or tightened?