The holiday season has begun and with it comes busy schedules, family gatherings, and holiday parties. As we all plan, shop, and travel, making healthy choices often falls to the bottom of our list of priorities. Dental health, though, doesn’t have to take a back seat during the hectic holiday months. Beginning with Thanksgiving, adopting healthy holiday habits will set you up for a mouth-healthy season.
Knowing what to eat and what to avoid during your Thanksgiving prep, meal, and leftover celebrations, can help you have a healthy holiday. Turkey, most family meals’ main dish, is packed with protein and sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamins A and C. Both of these traditional Thanksgiving dishes are great options for a large portion of your plate.
Popular sides, such as green bean casserole, feature vitamin-packed ingredients with minimal regret, while other popular sides such as cranberry sauce and candied yams, offer a healthy boost coated in sticky sugar. One way to protect your teeth during Thanksgiving is to limit the intake of the most sugary items on the table, such as pumpkin pie, and fill up the empty spaces with steamed or baked vegetables.
Minimizing sticky foods and sweets is important all-year-long, but during the holidays the indulgence is difficult to avoid. If you do indulge in Thanksgiving pies and treats, eat sweets shortly after a full meal. As saliva production increases during meals, eating dessert shortly after finishing the main course allows your mouth to rinse away food particles and acid as you eat.
Nuts and hard candies are often suggested as dessert replacements and can offer minimized calorie intake. While these two options produce saliva and promote clean teeth, It is important to be careful with hard foods, as teeth may chip or break unexpectedly.
Focusing on maintaining a healthy mouth doesn’t have to take the fun out of Thanksgiving. Minimize alcohol intake, or drink a glass of water with each cocktail, to reduce bacteria build up and prevent dry mouth. Carry plastic flossers in your pocket or bag to remove pesky food particles following a major meal, and choose healthier snacks at the holiday party.
No one wants to miss out on holiday foods and celebrations, so the best way to enjoy the holiday is to focus on preparation and moderation.