If 2018 brought along with it New Year’s Resolutions to trim some pounds off your waistline, you’re not alone. In fact, losing extra weight is one of the most common resolutions people make each year.
On top of regularly exercising, weight loss is primarily attributed to making smart food choices in the kitchen. Paying close attention to portion sizes and choosing healthier foods to eat can actually affect much more than just your waistline, but your oral health too. Here are five swaps to your diet you can begin today that will also benefit your oral health, along with losing extra pounds.
Properly Planning Your Meals
Favoring fatty, high-carbohydrate foods, and indulging in too much carryout are easy to do. Lack of meal preparation and planning of what is on your plate is common in busy lifestyles.
You are taking steps to learn proper portion control and how much protein, carbs, and fats you should take in each day.
Food is the fuel for your body, and consuming healthy foods will help you look, feel and function better. ChooseMyPlate.gov is an excellent free online resource that looks to provide information on how to start new, healthy habits, along with informing you how much and what you should be eating each day.
You simply cannot go wrong with the tips listed below:
- Fruits and vegetables: These should cover at least half your plate at meals. They are high in water and fiber, which balance the sugars they contain and help to clean your teeth. These foods also help stimulate saliva production, which washes harmful acids and food particles away from teeth and helps neutralize acid, protecting teeth from cavities.
- Grains: At least half of the grains you eat should be whole grains or low-sugar breads and cereals, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
- Protein: Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Vary your protein choices to also include eggs, beans, peas and legumes. There are many protein sources available in stores as well for those who are vegetarian or vegan too, it’s not all animals! These phosphorus-rich foods help to keep your mouth healthy and contain valuable protein, which help keep you feel fuller for longer amounts of time.
- Dairy: When it comes to dairy, choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, are low in sugar, which is a good thing for your dental health. Plus, they contain protein and are full of calcium, which are good for healthy teeth and gums.
When You Need Something to Drink
You go to your refrigerator or vending machine to get a soda or sugary drink.
You quench your thirst with water.
Two out of three adults in the United States are overweight or obese, and 1 in 4 Americans get at least 200 calories a day from drinks with high-fructose corn syrup, like soda. One 20-ounce regular soda has an average of 227 calories in it and by reducing the amount of soda you intake, you can save yourself from a significant amount of calories each day.
Since we’re a dental office, of course we have to mention the oral health issues that come from this too! As if the calories in a can of soda weren’t bad enough, these calories come excessive added sugar. The average can of soda contains about 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar – which is how much added sugar the FDA says people over the age of 3 should have throughout an entire day. Sugar feeds the plaque on your teeth, which causes acid to severely deteriorate your enamel!
There’s a solution to this problem: Water. Water contains zero calories, no added sugars and helps keep cavities away by washing away leftover food and keeping dry mouth at bay. By replacing that can of soda each day with a glass of water, your teeth will thank you in the long run.
When You’re Craving Sweets
You took a cookie after dinner to satisfy your craving for sweets.
You reach for a piece of sugarless gum.
Chewing sugar-free gum is a win-win: You can satisfy your craving for sweets while protecting your teeth at the same time! Oftentimes people eat out of boredom, sometimes they aren’t actually even hungry. After dinner, instead of dessert, chewing a piece of gum can help remove plaque from your teeth without adding additional sugars into your mouth. Studies also show that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating can reduce your risk of cavities.
During Your Workout
You rehydrated with a sugar-filled sports drink after exercising.
You fill a sports bottle with water from the tap.
Your resolution has you back in the gym and that’s great! Adults should try to aim for between 2 and 3 hours of physical activity each week. Keeping yourself hydrated is key when you’re exercising. Unfortunately, people often misinterpret sports drinks as a healthier alternative to water. A majority of these drinks are loaded with extra calories and quite a bit of added sugar, which is very bad for your teeth. Instead, choosing water is the best decisions for your body and your teeth. Tap water is especially important in most communities because community water with fluoride can actually help protect weak spots on the outer shell of your teeth.
When You Are Craving A Snack
When you get hungry, you reach for the easiest to open.
You prepare some simple, healthy snacks ahead of time.
Snacking on potato chips, eating carbohydrate loaded crackers, or sugar filled treats are a simple way to satisfy your hunger quickly. But, if you do this enough, it will catch up on you. Limiting your snacking to healthy choices such as celery and peanut butter, and making better choices can help control your calorie intake and give cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth less leftover food to snack on as well. If you decide to snack, make nutritious choices—such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables or nuts—to feel fuller, longer. These will also help your overall and dental health at the same time.
If you tend to snack at night, make sure to brush before you head back to sleep. Having food stuck in your teeth overnight is a great way for plaque to cause your teeth harm.
Hopefully you learned a thing or two from this! If you have any questions regarding your oral health, please feel free to give our office a call at (703) 719-9210 or contact us online.