People are smart―perhaps too smart. Our sense of taste is supposed to tell us what is healthy to eat and what isn’t. But because we’re so smart, we’ve learned to outsmart our appetites and our taste buds. For example, our taste for sweetness tells us that the sweet things that exist in nature, such as fruit, are good for us. But man-made edibles created specifically to be sweet, such as candy, can actually be harmful to your dental and overall health.
People crave sweetness, saltiness and other taste sensations. We like to snack; the mere act of eating is pleasurable. So how do we trick ourselves into not tricking ourselves? Here are some tips.
1. Control your portions. Snacking isn’t necessarily the problem―the problem is excessive snacking. Prepare your snacks in advance in small portions that will satisfy your urge for a quick snack, but won’t let you overdo it. Resist constant snacking throughout the day as this increases your teeth’s exposure to potentially harmful foods or drinks.
2. Replace candy with fruit. As we mentioned earlier, sweetness exists in natural forms. Fresh fruit can satisfy your sweet tooth just as well as a chocolate bar or a hard candy.
3. Replace acidic and sugary drinks with water. Water is the purest and most basic answer to thirst. Acids and sugars are harmful to your teeth. Water helps to protect hard and soft oral tissue and washes away harmful particles. If you do drink a lot of juice, consider watering it down.
4. Limit consumption of fermentable carbohydrates to mealtime. Chips, crackers and cookies are popular snack foods that seem to be made for bingeing. If you must indulge, do so during mealtime. Mixing these foods with mealtime foods such as cheese will help to neutralize acidity in your mouth and prevent tooth decay.
If you have other “bad” eating habits you want to break or dietary questions that need answers, bring them up at your next appointment.