The holiday season is all about having fun and spending time with your friends and family. But it is also very 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 exacerbate 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.
What to do
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?