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Ah, middle school. We’ve all been there – a time and place for angsty adolescents, best characterized by weird bodily changes, misguided contempt for authority, and extreme confusion. And to top it all off, it’s prime time to get braces. The horror!

To make this awkward transitional phase between childhood and adulthood a little easier, we’ve compiled a guide to middle school lunches for our patients in Glendale. Our orthodontists understand how annoying it can be to meal prep healthy, braces-friendly meals for patients with busy schedules. So instead of worrying about what foods could get stuck in their brackets, our patients can save their energy for more important activities, like sports, school, and the hardest thing of all, growing up.

Breakfast Time

Many students don’t eat in the morning because they’re in a rush to get to school, but unless your child has instructions from a qualified nutritionist to skip breakfast, that’s probably not a good idea. Luckily, there are plenty of breakfast items available at Glendale middle schools for kids to enjoy once they’re on campus.

The Good 🍓

The trick to a good breakfast is getting a good balance of nutritious foods. Most dieticians recommend whole grains, lean protein, and fruit for the first meal of the day. 

Our favorite savory options include the English muffin egg sandwich, breakfast burrito, and breakfast sausage pizza. They all include healthy proteins that are aren’t too chewy or crunchy. Cheese is also great for braces and teeth in general. It contains calcium to remineralize the teeth and polyphenols that can inhibit bad bacteria. Other cheesy breakfast options are string cheese and cream cheese, which can be eaten alone or on with whole grain bread.

If your kid’s got a sweet tooth, there are also yogurt parfaits and cinnamon toast available every morning. Like cheese, yogurt has bacteria fighting properties and it can balance the pH of the mouth for fresher breath. Though cinnamon toast has quite a bit of sugar, it can easily be dusted off.

In accordance with national dietary guidelines, middles schools in Glendale serve ½ a cup of vegetables or fruit with every meal. Though crunchy fruits, like apples and pears, are good for teeth because of their high fiber content, they’re too hard on fragile brackets. Instead, get diced or soft fruit, like bananas and berries.

The Bad 🙅‍

The orthodontist will provide an extensive list of foods for braces patients to avoid, but generally, patients should stay away from hard, chewy, crunchy or sticky foods. These can get stuck in the brackets or bend and break them.

Braces patients: beware of breakfast bars and bagels. They may seem like harmless choices, but they’re often too dense, hard, and chewy for braces. These filler foods are also refined carbs, so they’ll quickly digest in the stomach, leaving students hungry shortly after consumption.

Another orthodontic no-no is any product with copious amounts of refined sugar. Bacteria feed off sugar to create acids that can damage the teeth and cause cavities. While this is okay in moderation, it’s easier for food debris and sugar to get caught in the cracks and crevices of braces, so if there’s no way for your child to brush their teeth at school, it’s a good idea to avoid sweets.

Cereal is a popular item for breakfast because it’s quick and convenient, but most of the options at middle school (Apple Jacks, Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops) are loaded with sugar. It also might be too crunchy for anyone who’s sore from tightening their braces.

Similarly, the double chocolate chip muffins available at school may be too sugary to be healthy. Instead, try whole wheat blueberry muffins or whole grain pancakes. They’re soft enough for braces, but they have significantly less sugar.

Despite the antibacterial properties of cinnamon, the cinnamon rolls and cinnamon crumb squares are full of sugar, yet they provide little nutritional value. These items are more of a dessert and they should be consumed as such – infrequently.

The Substitutes 🍳

With so many options eliminated, we had to include a few braces-friendly alternatives for our patients. There tons of quick-fixes that are also healthy and easy on the braces. Here are just a few!

Oatmeal is an awesome source of fiber and it’s easy to customize. Add a dash of honey or brown sugar for sweetness and sprinkle blueberries or bananas on top for extra flavor. Simply add more water or milk to make the oatmeal softer for the braces!

If you’ve got some time on your hands, whip up an omelet! Eggs are already an amazing source of healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals, but throw in some mushrooms, spinach, tomato, or cheese, and you’ve got a meal fit for a king.

Last but not least, we’re big fans of smoothies. Prep the smoothie mixture by throwing chopped, frozen fruits and vegetables in the freezer the night before. Then, add them to a blender in the morning with almond milk or juice and enjoy! Since smoothies can be sipped through a straw, no chewing is needed at all!

Lunch Time

Kids need food to grow, so it’s important to have a tasty and nutritious lunch prepared for them at school. Luckily, Glendale middle schools seem to have lunch on lock, with many options available daily and theme bars.

The Good 🥪

Almost everything on the lunch menu is delicious and braces-friendly. There are so many options, but here are our top picks:

  • Chicken Patty Sandwich
  • Deli Sandwich
  • Grilled Chicken Salad
  • Hamburger
  • Panini Sandwich
  • Hot Dog
  • Turkey Hot Dog
  • Louisiana Hot Link
  • Veggie Burger
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Buffalo Chicken
  • Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
  • Edamame Kung Pao Chicken
  • Fish Sticks
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Cheese Quesadilla
  • Beef Chili
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Tuscan Smoked Turkey Soup
  • Ravioli with Marinara Sauce
  • Chicken Shawarma
  • Greek Wrap
  • Lavash Wrap
  • Soy Butter Grape Jelly Sandwich
  • Bean & Cheese Burrito

Encourage your child to choose a balanced meal with grains, protein, and vegetables. It’s recommended to have at least 2 -3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Leafy greens are particularly good for teeth because they contain valuable minerals that help the body absorb calcium and their fibrous texture can naturally clean teeth. Just remember, they can easily get stuck in between teeth and braces, so remind your kids to check their teeth or rinse their mouths after eating!

Usually, these protein options are tender enough for braces, but if your child has trouble biting through a sandwich or burger, they can easily cut the entree into bite-sized pieces. Usually, fried foods are off-limits for braces, but the middle schools usually bake or grill their menu items unless otherwise noted. For any patients who are feeling particularly sensitive, try mashed potatoes, soup, or mac and cheese. These options require less chewing, but they’re no less filling than the other items. 

The Maybe 🍕

Everyone loves pizza, but the crust can be too dense for braces, so for once, it’s okay to leave it behind. Bacon is another ingredient that can be controversial. It’s usually quite hot and crispy, but if the bacon is cut too thick, that can cause problems. Remind your child to slow down at lunch and chew slowly if bacon is a concern.

As much as we like the trail runner pack and vegetarian plate, it’s a good idea to leave out the double chocolate chip muffin (for reasons mentioned above), dried fruit, and sunflower seeds. Seeds and nuts of any kind are way too hard for braces and dried fruit is very tough to chew. Chopped fresh fruit and vegetables are much better.

The Bad 🌮

We hate to restrict anyone from eating any food, but as orthodontists, it’s our duty. A cracked bracket or wire will require an inconvenient trip to the orthodontist and it will delay treatment time. Might as well stay on the safe side to avoid the trouble!

As much as we love Mexican food, crunchy tostadas and taco shells pose a threat to braces. If possible, get a soft tortilla or Spanish rice on the side as a replacement. Schools also serve chips on the side for many meals, but braces may not be able to withstand their crunchy nature. Definitely pass on the nacho plate and go for something softer, like French fries, mashed potatoes, or hash browns. They are a much better choice for sensitive braces and teeth.

Corn kernels may not seem so terrible, but they can easily get stuck in between braces. Steer clear of them until the braces come off. Saucy foods should also be approached with caution. Teriyaki sauce, orange chicken glaze, and BBQ sauce all contain lots of cavity-causing sugars.

If you have questions about the lunches served at Glendale middle schools, you can contact their cafeteria with the contact information below:

Theodore Roosevelt Middle School
222 E Acacia Ave
Glendale, CA 91205
(818) 242-6845

Woodrow Wilson Middle School
1221 Monterey Rd
Glendale, CA 91206
(818) 244-8145

Rosemont Middle School
4725 Rosemont Ave
La Crescenta, CA 91214
(818) 248-4224

Eleanor J. Toll Middle School
700 Glenwood Rd
Glendale, CA 91202
(818) 244-8414

We hope our orthodontist’s guide to middle school lunches in Glendale was helpful. Maintaining braces with good oral hygiene and proper nutrition are vital elements of the orthodontic process. It can be hard to get used to these dietary restrictions, but it’ll be very worth it by the end of the process!

If your child accidentally eats something that damages his or her brackets, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Our Glendale orthodontists are always prepared to help in case of an emergency. Orthodontics LA provides custom braces and Invisalign to teens throughout Glendale and LA county. Call us for an appointment today!