Protect your teeth this season by understanding your food cravings

By Montefiore Medical Center
December 15, 2017

Dental Care Bronx NYWe all want to look and feel great, especially during the holiday season. But the plethora of holiday sweets and treats at our fingertips can leave our teeth in less than ideal condition. In an effort to benefit our dental health, let’s talk about how to stave off your holiday food cravings. First, here’s what you need to know about the nature of cravings and what they mean.

What science says about cravings

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m craving potato chips, I guess my body needs more salt” to justify why they are indulging? Nutritional deficiencies are a popular myth for why we crave certain foods. Blaming cravings on nutritional needs may make you feel virtuous, but individual experience, culture, and instincts are the true culprit.

Science shows that gender plays a significant role in the foods we crave. For instance, men desire savory and hot foods while women opt for the sweeter variety. Why? Many men associate savory foods with the comfort and attention from wives or mothers while women relate those same foods to kitchen preparation and cleanup. Women prefer candies and chocolate because they require minimal preparation and cleanup.

Studies also demonstrate that mood can play a significant role in what we crave. Not only will a depressed or bored mood trigger hunger, but happiness will too. Research shows that 86% of people crave comfort foods when they are happy and preferred meal based healthier foods. In contrast, sad people sought out ice cream and potato chips.

What you can do

Environmental cues and experience seem to be counting against our efforts to maintain our waistline this season. Here are some simple ways to manage those crazy holiday cravings.

  • Eat the food you crave less often: You don’t need to banish bad foods from your diet, just eat them in moderation. Eating them all of the time will simply reinforce bad behavior.
  • Use portion control: Have some cake, but only a small slice.
  • Find a new activity: Distract your mind by participating in a non food related activity like shopping or Pilates.
  • Brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth can make you less likely to snack.

Schedule a consultation

At Montefiore Department of Dentistry, our goal is to help you achieve a brighter and healthier smile. If you are concerned about how your eating habits are affecting your dental health, call our office today to schedule a consultation at 888-700-6623.

Dental Health Blog Post, Oral Health Blog Post


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