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Diet and Jaw Pain

by TJz Balm Expert
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Diet and Jaw Pain

Those who grind their teeth or experience jaw pain often avoid hard foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. A daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains are extremely important for good health and are major components of a healthy Mediterranean diet. People who suffer with TMJ pain and jaw problems gravitate to soft foods or an easy-to-chew diet—foods that require minimal chewing; and avoid raw, high-fiber foods that require a great deal of chewing.

A traditional soft food diet for those with TMJ jaw pain, often includes processed foods like white bread, muffins, puddings, mashed potatoes, overcooked pasta and boiled chicken. However, a soft food diet can also include healthy choices like yogurt, fresh cheeses, polenta, applesauce and pureed vegetable soups.

Below is a more detailed list of the types of foods to avoid and include for a healthy modern Mediterranean soft food diet:

Avoid hard cheeses, but do include these dairy foods:

  • Fresh cheeses like ricotta, mozzarella, feta, quark and cottage cheese
  • Low fat yogurt without added chunks of fruits, nuts, seeds or granola
  • Low fat milk, soymilk, kefir or other plant-based enriched beverages
  • Eggs

Avoid crunchy hard breads, crackers and chips, but do include whole grains and starchy vegetables:

  • Sourdough whole-wheat bread without seeds and nuts
  • Pancakes made with soy, almond or buckwheat flour, drizzled with pure maple syrup
  • Gnocchi
  • Mashed sweet or white potatoes
  • Polenta
  • Oatmeal
  • Wholewheat pasta
  • Buckwheat noodles
  • Couscous
  • Barley

Avoid sticky dried fruits, but do include:

  • Natural applesauce (no sugar added)
  • Apple butter (no sugar added)
  • Pureed fruits
  • Cooked fruits without seeds and skins
  • Bananas
  • Ripe melon
  • Smoothies

Avoid raw vegetables, but do include:

  • Cooked carrots
  • Baba Ganoush
  • Avocados
  • Asparagus tips
  • Cooked beets
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Puree of vegetables/puree of vegetable soup
  • Cooked spinach, squash, zucchini, kale and other greens
  • Tomato soup and tomato sauce
  • Vegetable smoothies

Avoid stringy, hard meats, but do include these proteins:

  • Hummus
  • Cooked or pureed peas, lentils, beans
  • Bean dip/refried beans
  • Tofu
  • Pea soup
  • Lentil soup
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Smooth natural nut butter like smooth peanut butter or tahini

How You Eat Matters

The manner in which you eat is just as important as the foods that you eat.

  • Choose a calm and relaxed atmosphere to eat.
  • Don’t eat while standing up or hunched over.
  • Take your time eating and never rush.
  • If you are on a tight schedule, allow at least 30 minutes to enjoy your food.
  • Take small bites of food.
  • Use smaller utensils to help control the amount of food that you out on your fork or spoon.
  • Chew your food slowly and thoroughly, and swallow slowly.
  • Eat small frequent meals rather than three large meals.
  • Avoid foods that you have difficulty chewing or cause discomfort.

If you have special dietary needs or are having jaw pain or difficulty chewing, then speak to a registered dietitian about an individualized dietary plan to fit your needs. Sometimes a supplemental beverage or powder will be added to make up for lost calories or nutrients that are missing from your diet during acute stages of jaw pain or TMJ disorder. A registered dietitian has the credentials to assess your needs and make appropriate recommendations for jaw pain relief. A healthy diet is essential to good health, including jaw and bone health. Consume a variety of foods and avoid added salts, sugars and saturated fats.

by TJz Balm Expert

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