How to eat healthy during Thanksgiving

By - Bad Breath Expert

SUMMARY:  Looking for ways to stay slim and avoid dental problems during turkey day? Learn about them here.

Posted: November 7, 2013

eat healthy thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For many of us, the turkey holiday provides a time with family and friends, an excuse to watch football and a time to feast. With all the scrumptious food, it's good to remember a few easy tips to avoid dental health problems. A lot of what we eat can be troublesome for teeth, such as the carbohydrates and sugars found in desserts and dinner rolls. But there are still some ways to avoid cavities without giving up Grandpa's pumpkin pie. 

As always, it's important to keep in mind how connected oral and and overall health is. What you consume may affect your weight, but it also can impact your teeth.

White or dark meat?
White meat is healthier for you than dark meat because it contains less fat and fewer calories.

Eat a balanced meal
Level out your turkey day feast with proteins, carbohydrates and nutrients. White turkey meat and roasted sweet potatoes are both better options because they can offset the sugary acids that gather on your teeth. It's not only sugar that causes cavities - acid produced by any sort of carbohydrate triggers tooth decay. Indeed, sugar is a carb, but anything from rice to bread to fruits fall under the carbohydrate category. Crucially, it's not the amount of carbs you eat that leads to cavities, but the length of time your teeth are exposed to them. 

Besides containing healthy nutrients, crunchy fruits and vegetables like carrots and apples are great for dislodging leftover food on your teeth and kick-starting saliva production.

When you're deciding on dessert, pumpkin pie is your best bet, since it is a significant source of B vitamins. Avoid extremely sugary treats because they can result in canker sores, the little ulcers on the inside of your lip or cheeks. To help avoid canker sores, rinse your mouth with water right after eating.

Stay away from seconds
Resist the temptation for second helpings. If we graze on multiple servings, food bits stay in your mouth longer, which inhibits your saliva from neutralizing acids. Instead, spend some time chatting with your cousins, watch the Cowboys or Lions football games or throw in a piece of gum for distraction. 

Cooking tips
If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year or bringing a few dishes to share, make recipes healthier with less sugar, fat and calories. 

"There is more sugar and fat in most recipes than is needed, and no one will notice the difference if you skim calories by using lower calorie ingredients," Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, former president of the American Dietetic Association, told WebMD.

Diekman recommends using fat-free chicken broth to baste the turkey and make gravy. Cut back on butter and oil whenever possible, and try plain yogurt or sugar-free sour cream in mashed potatoes, creamy dips or casseroles. 

The holidays can be a tricky time to eat healthy. That's why you should burn those extra calories by getting a good workout in before and after indulging in your favorite foods. If you create a calorie-deficient diet prior to pulling up a chair at Grandma's table, chances are you'll avoid adding on a pound or two.

"Eat less and exercise more is the winning formula to prevent weight gain during the holidays," Diekman told the source. "Increase your steps or lengthen your fitness routine the weeks ahead and especially the day of the feast."

Get the whole family involved! Family football games are famous during the Thanksgiving season, and if you're not one for throwing around the pig skin, take a walk with some good company. It's a great way to help shed calories and enjoy the holiday together. 

Like any other day of the year, it's important to brush and floss your teeth to clean out all the turkey day aftermath.

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