Help Keep Your Patients Mindful of What They are Eating During the Holidays

This holiday season is all about having fun and spending time with your friends and family. However, it is important that our patients be mindful of what they eat so as to not worsen their TMD pain or sleep apnea condition.

Overeating often happens during the holidays, which can lead to weight gain and worsening of sleep apnea symptoms. And, depending on what they eat, it could exasperate the pain felt in the jaw.

What is the issue?

Immediately after overeating, patients might feel abdominal discomfort, but won’t think much about it. And while they might not immediately gain 10 pounds, it can lead to the development of weight gain if patients continue to eat like that. The repeated episodes of overeating result in health consequences such as obesity, high cholesterol, joint problems and sleep apnea. Excess weight can even lead to psychosocial and emotional problems.

It is completely fine to eat those holiday foods available once a year, so don’t encourage self-deprivation. However, overdoing it should definitely be avoided. Try to inform your patients on what to eat, how to pace themselves and what to do to make up for heavier eating during the holiday season such as exercising or going on a walk.

One way of doing this is to tell your patients to put a positive spin on not eating certain foods. This might include, “I can eat that, but I choose not to because I want to eat healthfully.” This helps to minimize the feeling of being deprived of food. Some other tips include planning ahead, setting priorities for the foods patients want to eat, staying hydrated and eating mindfully. Very few bites get that maximum pleasure for people.

Whatever our patients eat this holiday season, make sure you emphasize enjoyment, moderation and perspective. And after all is said and done, recommend a nice walk or hitting up the gym in the days following.

What are some tips you can share with us for keeping our patients’ eating patterns in check this holiday season?

The Holiday Season Brings Stress

For many, stress is the culprit to their facial pain, which means finding ways to combat stress is vital in preventing pain. Stress affects almost everyone at some point in their lives, and approximately 77 percent of people reported that they experienced physical symptoms due to stress—that’s a lot of people! To help your patients this holiday season, here are some tips you might want to share with them to help combat stress:

Be Aware

If you are feeling stressed, take a moment to notice if you’re carrying tension in your jaw. You might even notice that you are grinding your teeth. If so, it’s important to be able to pinpoint these moments throughout the day. The more you can make yourself aware of the situation, the faster you’ll be able to stop yourself from clenching and grinding when you feel anxious. When this happens, loosen your jaw and massage the muscles. Doing this might relieve some of the tension and keep pain at bay.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, but sleep is extremely important. You should be getting at least eight hours of sleep a night in order to feel fully rested the next day. Having trouble sleeping? Make sure that electronic devices, caffeine or afternoon naps aren’t to blame. Keep your room at a comfortable temperature and leave distractions out of the bedroom for a restful sleep.

Watch What You Eat  

Your diet and stress are closely linked, and often times we don’t eat healthy when we have an impending deadline or a long workday. It’s sometimes faster just to run to the vending machine for a sugary snack than it is to pack something healthy. However, try to plan ahead before you leave for work. Be sure to stock up on fruits, vegetables and foods rich in omega-3s, which have been shown to reduce stress. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the sudden energy zap that often accompanies chowing down on a candy bar.

Don’t Forget to Exercise

You’re probably wondering when you could possibly have time to exercise; however, we don’t necessarily mean pumping iron at your local gym. Exercise is anything that gets the blood flowing, which triggers endorphins. Take a quick jaunt around the office or take a quick walk during your lunch break. You wouldn’t believe how just a little bit of movement throughout the day can instantly brighten a stressed mood.

Do you have any tips that help you deal with stress during the holiday season? I’d love to hear what they are and how they might help your patients!