Lose Weight and Keep Your Teeth Healthy
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Tips on Keeping Your Teeth Healthy
Don’t ditch the dairy
Giving up cheese might seem like a good idea to help you lose that spare tyre, but it’s actually a superfood for teeth.
As well as providing calcium, needed for tooth development and on-the-spot repairs to the tooth surface following an acid attack, cheese helps to make the mouth less acidic and so neutralises the harmful acids that decay teeth. In fact, some dentists now recommend eating a small piece of cheese at the end of a meal.
The key is to opt for reduced-fat varieties if you want to lose weight. Meanwhile, after water, milk is one of the best drinks for teeth. Better still, research shows the calcium in reduced-fat dairy products can actually help to burn fat, particularly around our midriff, so that we lose weight. So opt for skimmed or semi-skimmed rather than ditching it altogether.
Nuts and seeds might be packed with calories but they’re also loaded with nutrients and are a great choice for teeth as they can help to reduce the acidity in the mouth. Just remember to weigh out servings and count the calories.
Eating five portions of fruit and veg a day helps keep us healthy and controls our weight by filling us up. But it’s worth remembering that fruit contains a natural sugar called fructose, which like all sugar, has the potential to harm teeth.
Most dentists agree that fruit is a better sweet treat for teeth than chocolate. But it’s important to take care with things like juices, smoothies and dried fruit. When fresh fruit is juiced or crushed to make a juice or smoothie, the natural sugars found within the cells of the fruit are released and so become potentially more damaging to teeth. That’s why juices and smoothies count as just one of the five recommended daily servings of fruit and veg, no matter how much you have. That’s not to say you should avoid them but to keep teeth healthy, drink them with meals or dilute with water if you have them between meals. Drinking them with a straw also means the natural sugars they contain have less contact with the teeth.
The sugars in dried fruits like apricots, raisins, sultanas and dates are also very concentrated and so more likely to damage teeth than fresh fruit so serve them with a meal, for example, chopped dried apricots on porridge or sultanas on a salad, rather than nibbling on a handful every so often.
Finally, keeping a bunch of grapes on your desk at work or coffee table may be a lower-cal way to snack but the naturally occurring sugars in grapes can eventually harm teeth if you constantly pick at them while working or watching TV. It’s better for your teeth to eat a handful of grapes in one go.
Burst the bubbles
Switching regular cola drinks for ‘diet’ varieties might cut sugar and save you around 140 calories a can, but diet drinks can still damage teeth because they contain acids that erode the enamel. If you want something sweet or drink fizzy drinks to help fill you up, opt for sparking water with a little sugar-free squash.
Halt the honey
Contrary to popular belief, honey is just as bad for teeth and waistlines as sugar so don’t be tempted to use it as a substitute in drinks or on cereals and puddings – there’s 25 calories in a teaspoon of honey compared to just 16 calories in a teaspoon of sugar. Artificial sweeteners are a friendlier choice for both teeth and waistlines.
Don’t make sweets last
When you’re dieting, it might be tempting to make a small bar of chocolate or packet of sweets last for ages by eking them out over the course of an afternoon or evening. But eating them slowly means your teeth are bathed in sugar – and prone to acid attack – for hours on end. The solution: eat them all in one go.
Be a sport
Taking up a new fitness plan to help you shift those pounds is a great idea but that doesn’t mean you should also take up drinking sports drinks while you work out. Most are absolutely loaded with sugar and sipping them frequently throughout your workout means your teeth will be swamped with sugar. Added to this, there’s no point burning 200 calories on the treadmill if you’re then having 200 calories from a sports drink? The best drink for staying hydrated, making the most of the calories you’ve just burnt by exercising and keeping teeth healthy is plain old water.
Chew sugar-free gum
When you’re trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to reach for chewing gum to keep your mouth busy. Indeed, research shows that chewing gum helps to reduce hunger, diminishes cravings for sweet foods and prevents snacking. But to keep teeth healthy and save a few calories, opt for a sugar-free gum such as Orbit Complete.
You can use the food diary and database tools in WLR to make sure your diet is healthy, balanced and contains the right amount of calories. Try it free for 24 hours.