Healthier meals for healthier smiles

Eating healthy tops many New Year’s resolution lists. Meal planning is a great way to keep that resolution all year long. Here’s how planning ahead can help you eat a well-balanced diet and improve your health — including your oral health.

It’s easy to start a meal-planning routine

Create a master list of your favorite meals. Let your family help. You can look up recipes, sample menus and meal-planning tools online for additional inspiration. As a general guide, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables should cover half your plate, while lean protein and whole grains should each take up a quarter of the plate.

Pick a specific day to plan your weekly menus and shop for groceries. Remember to plan for healthy snacks that you can eat on the go. Apples, pears, celery, carrots, Greek yogurt, cheese, turkey, nuts and seeds all make great choices for your oral and overall health.

Stick to your grocery list. It’s easy to be tempted, so avoid impulse items (or shopping while hungry!). Shopping online can help you resist temptation. Also, make sure to choose lower calorie and lower sodium versions of ingredients when possible.

Prepare food for the week. If you want to plan ahead even further, try preparing more freezer-friendly meals.

You — and your smile — will benefit

With the right meal plan and prepping ahead of time, you can:

Eat healthier.
Home meal planning has been linked to a healthier diet and less obesity. You gain more control over ingredients and portion sizes compared to eating out. That makes it easier to cut down on cavity-causing sugars and starches.

Stress less.
You eliminate the daily stress of planning and preparing meals. People who report less stress enjoy better oral health than those with greater stress. Stress is also linked to many health issues, including heart problems and gum disease.

Save time and money.
Buying ahead will save you trips to the store. Cooking at home can also save you money compared to ordering out. You’ll waste less food by getting only what you need and planning for leftovers. Save money and cut out snacks that can damage your oral health by keeping unhealthy items off your shopping list and avoiding impulse items.

Enjoy a greater variety of foods.
Meal planning has been linked to eating a higher variety of food. Eating a well-balanced diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy products and whole grains — while cutting back on sugars and starches — will help reduce your risk for oral diseases.

If you’re currently hesitant to dine out, this could be the perfect time to start a home meal plan!


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