Have you heard of the bad “Eating on the Run Diet”? I’m giving it an official diet name so you know I mean business when I say that it’s not a diet that frequently has a positive outcome! For those of us who go to a job, have a profession requiring long hours in a day, or for many college students, this diet may even have deleterious effects. Eating on the run or constantly at your desk, may even be injurious to your teeth.
When we’re busy during the week and rushing to work, we don’t always plan our meals, we frequently skip breakfast, grab fast food to bring back to the office, experience mid-afternoon slump and often eat sugary carbs to get over the hump and feel more energized to get through the rest of the day. But these are poor choices!
Here are some of the worst eating on the run and desk diet offenders, as well as my advice on how to safeguard your oral health during your work day.
Breakfast. Eat no sugary cereals! Not at home, not at your desk. And no drive-through fast food! Steel cut oatmeal and non-fat yogurt make for a great start to the day. If you’re drinking coffee or tea, make sure to rinse your mouth afterwards and rehydrate your mouth. Herb or caffeine-free tea is an excellent choice and full of “good” polyphenols that clean sticky plaque off teeth, and slow the growth of bacteria associated with cavities, and gum disease.
Sandwiches. Again, no fast food! White bread is out; whole grain bread and rolls are in. White bread is loaded with sugar and whole grains lower the chance of gum disease. Protein, calcium and phosphorous-rich foods like turkey, chicken or low-fat cheese protect and strengthen your teeth. Add some healthy greens in a salad, with a small amount of reduced or low-fat dressing, and you have the perfect lunch.
Cold drinks. No soda or sugary drinks, and beware of smoothies! Whole fruit is healthy for your teeth, but not juice concentrates which are full of sugar. Some juices also have high acid content which can damage your tooth’s enamel, so less fruit juice is better. If you must drink those drinks, at least use a straw to protect your teeth. But the best overall healthy drink, is WATER. A close second is calcium-rich, low-fat milk, or soy milk, and both are good for your teeth.
Snacks. Stay away from packaged fruit and nut snack mixes which are sugar-dense and stick to your teeth. Ice cream or frozen yogurt? Watch the sugar content as well as calories. And watch out for popcorn, whole kernels, cracked nuts and hidden pieces of shells. They can damage any tooth in a New York minute. No cookies and candy to munch on in the car, and please don’t go grocery shopping at the end of your workday when you’re starving. You’re going to buy a lot of sugary foods because your craving carbs; then you’ll load the groceries into the car, and eat your bad girl or bad boy weak-moment purchase (like chocolate covered donuts) on the way home, and do the walk of shame into the house. Control those urges and be proud you did!