Beat Sweet Temptations with Some Tasty Alternatives
The holidays are a perfect time for family and friends but are also full of temptation for eating sweets. There is nothing wrong with a few sweets here and there, but the sugar adds up and can produce acid that will harm your teeth. Instead of indulging in some of the traditional treats, try these healthy and delicious alternatives this holiday season.
Temptation #1: Holiday Candy
Candy corn, candy apples and candy canes, oh my! There are just so many holiday sweets to tempt you, along with homemade pies, decadent desserts, chocolates and yes, even fruitcake.
Healthy Alternative: Nature's Candy
With holiday parties surrounding you at home, school and in the office, it can be hard to resist the sweets that are everywhere. When it’s your turn to supply the food, try bringing fresh fruit like berries or melons, or yummy Chocolate Dipped Banana Bites. Just dip slices of banana in melted dark chocolate (which has less sugar than milk chocolate), place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and pop the tray in the freezer for 2 hours or more.
You can also bring trail mixes with a variety of dried fruits, nuts, seeds and coconut chips. Coconuts are not only low in sugar but very sweet, so look for other ways to incorporate coconut into your treats this holiday season.
Temptation #2: Pies and Fruit Cake
While virtually all pies and cakes are packed with calories, there are some factors to consider in choosing a “better” dessert for your teeth. Many fruit pies are loaded with syrupy sugars which can cause cavities, and if the pie contains acidic fruits, it is even more likely to damage tooth enamel. The traditional pecan pie may be one of the worst cavity offenders. Pecan pies are full of sticky filling and chewy pecans that are more likely to accumulate food matter on the surface of your teeth.
Healthy Alternative: Pick Pumpkin!
Pumpkin pie is still loaded with sugars, but it may be one of the better options because of the pumpkins’ vitamin C. You should also look for recipes that include dark chocolate, oatmeal, sweet potato, bananas, carrots, and yogurt. In general, opt for desserts that are less sticky and lower in sugar.
Temptation #3: Whipped Cream and Ice Cream
Whipped cream and ice cream are traditional toppings for favorite holiday pies, but they both contain a lot of sugar that can damage your teeth, particularly store-bought whipped cream and ice cream. The sugar and fat in ice cream is not only bad for your teeth but can be detrimental to your general health as well, if eaten in excess.
Healthy Alternative: I Scream for Home Made Ice Cream!
You can make your own ice cream with less sugar or try our simple-to-make alternative:
Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream
A healthy alternative with zero added sugar, just pop 2 frozen bananas and 1/4 cup of natural peanut butter into a food processor and pulse until mostly smooth. Enjoy!
No blender or bananas? A spoonful of natural, no sugar added peanut butter can also help if you are craving something sweet.
Temptation #4: Eggnog, Spiced Cider and Other Holiday Beverages
Eggnog, spiced cider and other holiday beverages taste great and put you in the holiday spirit, but you should only enjoy them in moderation. These drinks are often high in sugar and fat, and sugary drinks (including sports drinks) are among some of the worst things for your teeth. Here are some other choices:
Healthy Alternative: Herbal, Fruit Tea or Juice
Herbal or Fruit Tea
Hot or cold, herbal and fruit teas have lots of flavor, are slightly sweet, and don’t have added sugar or calories. They are also non-caffeinated, so you can drink them in the evening instead of reaching for dessert.
A word of caution: Stay away from sweetened bottled teas which have almost as much sugar and calories as soda. Make sure to brush your teeth after drinking tea with a fluoride toothpaste that whitens to help keep staining at bay.
100% Juice - Use a Reusable Straw
Although juice contains a lot of sugar, 100% juice is better than soda or other holiday beverages. Make sure that the juice you buy does not have any added corn syrup or sugar.
If you have a juicer or blender, you can also make a juice or smoothie with greens that will help cut your sugar intake. Be sure to drink juices in moderation and use a reusable straw. Sipping through a straw helps protect your tooth enamel by limiting the amount of sugar that comes in contact with your teeth.
While these are only some of the ways to mitigate the damage sugar does to your teeth, we believe the best defense is a strong offense. Brush and floss daily and see your dentist. Getting regular dental care checkups and professional cleanings will help prevent tooth decay and can address any oral health issues before they become bigger problems.
If you don’t have a dentist, use our ‘find a dentist’ locator under the Related Articles section in the sidebar on the right.
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