There are plenty of reasons for an individual to adjust their dietary restrictions. Whether you choose to become a vegetarian for moral, health, or any other reasons, going meatless is certainly possible but does require more effort and meal planning to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs. In addition to your overall health needs, your oral health is also affected by your diet. While a vegan diet can be much more challenging to maintain, vegetarianism is a great option to consider if you need to consume less animal products for any reason. If you have braces, that is another layer of self care to consider, as you are further restricted by which foods are safe for braces and are soft enough to chew. Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy, balanced diet while going meatless when you have braces!
Good news! In many ways, going meatless while you have braces coincides well with the physical restrictions that come with braces. Meat is often difficult to chew with braces, especially when your teeth are sensitive from a recent tightening. Many meat eaters end up avoiding meat for a few days at a time anyway for this very reason. However, it is still important to get your protein! Go for softer options like eggs, tofu, nut butters, Greek yogurt, and other dairy products.
If you’re a pescatarian, you can still eat canned sardines and salmon, which actually contain a lot of calcium. If fish isn’t your thing, you can still get calcium from dairy products like milk and cheese. Bonus points for eating Greek yogurt, which is a great source of both protein and calcium! If you’re sticking to a vegan diet or are lactose intolerant, there are still plenty of alternative options for getting your calcium. Some examples are sesame seeds, soy products, and calcium-fortified products like orange juice.
Whenever you eliminate a food group from your diet, you risk not getting enough vitamins and minerals. Vegetarians often have to work a little harder to make sure they are getting enough vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. Eating a variety of fruits and veggies can help combat this challenge, but when you change your diet it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor about options like supplements that can help you optimize your health.
Many vegetarians consume more fruits and veggies than individuals who don’t have dietary restrictions. While this can be great for your health, especially if you’re eating a wide variety of produce to get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, it is important to remember that fruits and vegetables, especially in the raw, can be very high in acidity and therefore damaging to your teeth. Make sure you are being extra vigilant about your oral hygiene routine to offset your higher exposure to acidic foods.
Ultimately, we all have many different choices to make about what food we put in our bodies and feed our kids. If a meatless diet is right for you, we hope these tips will help you continue to maintain a balanced diet and healthy teeth! If you have any more questions or have concerns about another dietary restriction you would like to discuss with your orthodontist, call our office today!