14 Dec How to Practice Mindful Eating This Holiday Season
As we approach the holiday season, filled with festive gatherings, we commonly overindulge in the enjoyment of foods and sweets. Even as we allow ourselves a little grace to eat to our delight, there are still mindful eating practices that can enhance your overall well-being and contribute to the health of your smile.
Savor Each Bite for a Healthy Smile
Amid the holiday hustle, rushing through meals is easy without truly appreciating the impact on our oral health. Mindful eating encourages us to savor each bite, engaging our senses and creating a deeper, more enjoyable connection with the food experience. Take a moment to observe your holiday meal’s colors, textures, and aromas. Close your eyes and breathe in deep the scent of warm winter spices, peppermint, and hot chocolate. As you savor each bite, appreciate the effort and care put into the preparation, and smile brightly with good cheer.
Chew Slowly for Dental Well-being
Mindful eating starts with the simple act of chewing slowly. This allows you to relish the flavors and promotes better digestion. Slow and deliberate chewing allows your brain to register fullness, preventing overeating. It’s also a dental win, as thorough chewing supports optimal oral health, aiding in the breakdown of food and reducing the risk of dental issues, such as a cracked tooth from biting down too quickly and too hard on nuts and other hard foods.
Be Mindful in Eating of Sweets
We enjoy cookie exchanges, potluck parties, and office goodies or tins filled with sweets. The abundance of sweets and desserts makes it easy to eat more sugar-laden foods than we usually might. The key is to strike a mindful balance, alternating sweets with healthier fruits and vegetables (think veggies and low-fat ranch dip). Enjoy the sweeter treats of the holidays but remember to rinse your mouth with water or brush afterward. The bacteria that normally live in our mouths feed on sugar, which can lead to enamel corrosion and tooth decay.
Avoid Overindulgence to Ward Off Indigestion
Being thoughtful about your eating habits encourages you to listen to your body’s cues and avoid overeating. Before going for seconds, assess your hunger level first. Choose smaller portions to try multiple dishes without overwhelming your plate. Moderation is key to preventing indigestion, which can indirectly affect your mouth:
Acid Reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease): GERD is a digestive disorder where stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. This acid can also reach the mouth, leading to acid erosion of the teeth. Know when you are full and limit or avoid acid-causing foods, including caffeine, acidic fruits, alcohol, and carbonated beverages.
Dry Mouth: Some medications used to treat indigestion cause dry mouth as a side effect. Saliva plays a key role in maintaining oral health by neutralizing acids and washing away food particles and helping to prevent tooth decay. Make sure to drink plenty of water for hydration before, during, and after eating.
Vomiting: In rare cases of severe indigestion or eating disorders, vomiting after eating exposes the teeth to stomach acid. This acid can erode the enamel and increase the risk of cavities, tooth sensitivity, and other dental problems.
Eat slowly, control serving portions, and balance sweets with healthier food options to prevent indigestion from overeating, post-eating fatigue, and damage to teeth.
Food is more than fuel; it’s a friendly tie that connects us during happy times, celebrations, and other important life events. Sharing a meal goes beyond just eating—sharing a laugh, a story, a moment, comradery, and new memories with people we care about.
Let’s make mindful eating a cornerstone of our celebrations this holiday season. Embrace the opportunity to be present, savor the culinary delights, and cultivate an intentional approach to nourishing your body and supporting optimal oral health. Visit us after the holidays to kick off 2024 with a healthy mouth. Contact us today at (281) 265-3567 or schedule an online appointment.
Wishing you a season filled with joy, gratitude, and a radiant smile.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
“We love to see you smile”