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Healthier Alternatives to Favorite Holiday Treats

It's that time of year, when everyone breaks out their favorite, traditional family recipes. However, most of the time they call for lots of sugar, which can have a toll on your teeth. If you read our blog, you already know that sugar does to your teeth. Today we will offer some tasty alternatives to your favorite treats! We have some helpful holiday solutions for you, as well as links to sugar-free recipes.

First Things First!

It’s important to let your kids know that too many holiday treats can cause trouble down the line. For a kid-friendly website with wonderful dental information, visit Mouth Healthy Kids. You can even encourage your kids to have better dental health through the holidays by letting them play the “To Tell The Tooth” game.

The Source

Sugar presents itself in all different forms, in fact sugar seems to be everywhere in the American diet. Even natural foods such as honey or fruit juice can contain additives in addition to naturally occurring sugar. The American Dental Association states that the following are the top sources of added sugar in the diet:

  • Soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, 35.7%

  • Grain-based desserts (cakes, pies) 12.9%

  • Fruit drinks 10.5%

  • Dairy-based desserts (ice cream) 6.5%

  • Candy 6.1%

  • Ready-to-eat cereals 3.8%

  • Sugars and honey 3.5%

  • Tea (sweetened) 3.5%

  • Yeast breads 2.1%

Tips for Keeping Your Teeth Healthy During Holiday Eating

A healthier holiday doesn’t mean NO your old favorites; you just need to be a little creative to find ways to substitute sugar. Following are delicious tips and great recipe ideas:

  1. When baking or making desserts, cut the amount of sugar by half. You can enhance the sweetness by adding vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon. The advantage is that the more flavor these bring to your goodies, the less sugar you will have to use.

  2. What happens when you replace cream cheese with one percent cottage cheese and just a small touch of melted chocolate? You get this incredible chocolate truffle cheesecake from the Food Network Kitchen. The recipe is here.

  3. When you have to create a dish quickly, you don’t have to resort to fast food or prepackaged cakes. These delicious mini date-nut snowballs only take 10 minutes to make. The recipe, courtesy of Ellie Krieger for Food Network Magazine, can be found here.

  4. Carrots aren’t only on the vegetable tray. These carrot and pineapple whole-wheat muffins are a wonderful alternative to sticky breakfast buns or donuts.

  5. Diabetic? The American Diabetes Association has a great resource for a variety of dishes and tips, as well as healthier alternatives for traditional dishes.

Keep with the good habits!

Holiday season is not a reason to take a break from practicing good dental hygiene. It’s tempting with the rush to relatives’ houses to skip flossing here and there, but this is the time when your teeth need it most!

  1. Be sure you’re brushing your teeth long enough—two minutes is needed to remove sugars and food particles.

  2. Be sure to brush twice a day and limit between-meal snacks.

  3. Sipping on soda is hard on enamel, so opt for water or wiser food and beverage choices.

  4. Not only do fruits and vegetables help you feel “fuller,” but they also contain vitamins that are great for tooth health. Vitamin C is needed for healthy gums and vitamin A is important for building tooth enamel.

No matter what your holiday plans are this year, these tips and treats can help you avoid cavities, and therefore, extensive dental treatment in the new year.

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