What to eat or not to eat? No doubt those who are wearing braces have already memorized the list of no-nos. What about a list of yes-yesses! The family of the orthodontic patient is making a considerable extra investment of money into treatment. Why not make the extra investment of effort in providing a more pleasant eating experience? What can be prepared that will be easy to eat, nutritious and satisfying?
A hungry person is an unhappy person, but a positive attitude is essential to successful treatment.
The first item and most important on the menu should be sympathy. Genuine concern and a cheerful promise to fix up something tasty that will also put minimum of stress on tender teeth will go a long way in encouraging a cooperative attitude on the part of the patient.
Families who are concerned enough about a members’ dental health to invest in orthodontics will naturally be concerned about nutritious meals. Difficulties may arise during the trying times which are immediately following the application of the braces, and the day or two following each adjustment. Preparing meals “as usual” will create difficulty and discomfort for the patient. It may seem a bother to cut something up into smaller pieces or put part of the meal in the blender. However, the results of that little extra effort will be very rewarding for the whole family by having a happier, more comfortable person at the table.
Here are some suggestions for easing meal and snacking times.
FILL’ER UP- WITH PROTEINS
Hunger pangs stay away longer with proteins. When the usual large portion at regular meals may be difficult, try the following!
Add an egg in the blender when making a milkshake. Some restaurants will do this for you, too. Add cubes of cheddar or jack cheese to bouillon, canned or homemade hot soups. The cheese will melt (delicious!) yet be easy to eat. Processed cheese works too, but it may give the soup a milky appearance.
Float several spoonfuls of cottage cheese on hot tomato soup. Add a well-beaten egg to boiling chicken soup or bouillon. Skim off foam. Tastes like Chinese restaurant egg flower soup!
Flake canned tuna well to break up chunks. Add mayonnaise, salad dressing. This time leave out hard additions such as pickles and celery.
Grilled cheese dunk. Cut grilled cheese sandwich in small squares. Spear with fork and dunk in cold milk. Scrambled eggs. For especially light, tender and fluffy eggs, beat eggs well with egg beater. Add a little milk, salt and pepper to taste, beat again. Heat a little butter, or bacon drippings in a pan, add eggs and stir gently over medium heat until almost done. Cover, turn off heat, and leave on stove for two minutes. For cheese omelets, add grated cheese or a slice of cheese just before putting on cover.
Lentils are especially nutritious, as are beans for proteins. Soups made from these are easy on tender teeth. Scrambled hamburger. Cook hamburger slowly over medium heat, stirring often to break up the meat into tiny pieces. Do not overcook as meat will get too crispy. For variation, mix gravy or sauces. Sloppy joes- always easy, and can be made with ground turkey meat as a low cholesterol alternative. Yogurt – truly a life saver! Keep several favourite flavors handy. Cheese soufflé. Be daring and try one! A marvelous soft protein. Use a meat grinder if you have one, for other meats. Add gravy or sauces or salad dressing for easier eating. If biting is easy, but chewing is difficult, use softer foods. If biting is difficult, but chewing is easy, cut sandwiches and cooked food up into small pieces.
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“Instant Breakfast” mixes can be whipped up anytime!
VEGETABLES AND SALADS
Most cooked vegetables are easily eaten, but don’t nag or feel guilty if the patient has an urge to mash them up further with a fork. Anything that will help should be encouraged. Salads are a real problem. If not enough fresh vegetables and fruits are eaten, constipation may become a concern. Forget that idea about tearing up lettuce by hand, and go ahead and cut it up finely with a knife. Canned tomatoes, creamed spinach, cooked squash (both green and yellow), cooked cauliflower are some of the vegetables that are easier. When all else fails, remember the mashed potatoes! Add grated or melted cheese sauce for added protein.
Perhaps now is the time to dig out your “a la king” recipes that can be used. Creamed tuna on mashed potatoes for dinner following the orthodontist appointment has saved many a high school athlete from imminent starvation! Above all, keep up the sympathy and patience. It is truly difficult for anyone who has never had braces on their teeth to fully understand that at times it hurts just to put a spoonful of overcooked zucchini squash in your mouth.
MIND YOUR OWN BEESWAX!
Tape an emergency supply of beeswax in a small envelope to the inside of the school binder, lunch kit or briefcase.
Fruit juice, one of the great joys of the orthodontic patient! Do a little pampering here. How about a section in the freezer just for the one with the glistening smile? In order to cut down on sweets, stick to real fruit juice. Get a variety to have on hand. In addition to the usual orange juice, why not try grape, tangerine, nectarine and apple?
Fresh fruits, so essential to good digestive habits and full vitamins can be great in the blender. Try this: Fresh, uncooked applesauce. Peel apple, cut into chunks, put into blender, add a little water (about 2 tablespoons) a little sweetener if desires and a dash of cinnamon.
Try the same trick with fresh pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots, oranges. Or a mixture to create a Polynesian delight! A banana in the blender leaves something to be desired, so put that great fruit in a milkshake. A milkshake, by the way, doesn’t need ice cream. If calorie-counting and a low cholesterol concern is a part of the plan, use non-fat milk and artificial sweeteners.
Frequently it is uncomfortable to bite or chew something very cold, with all that metal around the teeth. Take cantaloupe or grapefruit out of the refrigerator the night before in order to have it at room temperature when it touches those sensitive teeth at breakfast.
Here’s something special. Apple pie milkshake. Core and bake one large apple. (Use one of those little foil pans left from frozen chicken pies.) After removing the skin, put the apple in the blender along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dash of cinnamon. Apple pie a la mode without the (ouch!) crust.
SUDDEN HUNGER ATTACK!
In time of immediate desperation, open creamy style peanut butter. Eat several spoonfuls, wash down with cold milk.
The greatest, softest food ever invented is milk-plain, flavored, hot chocolate, milkshakes. All good protein foods for the “hurtin” mouth hungries.” Add eggs or fruit to milkshakes for more nutritious meals.
Breakfast doesn’t always have to be of the egg and oatmeal variety. For breakfast try scrambled hamburger, cottage cheese, soup, beans (cowboys do it!) tuna, eggnog, egg custard. For lunch how about scrambled eggs, hot cakes with stewed fruit topping, or milk toast?
For supper why not hot cereal, rice in a bowl with milk and butter, omelet’s, eggnogs?
For snacks, egg custard, puddings (with added eggs), hot bouillon with melted cheese.
Of course, tooth decay will be minimized if sugar substitutes are used in all foods that need to be sweetened.
THE BROWN BAG GANG
We all KNOW that whole wheat bread, bursting with those crunchy little kernels of grain are ever so nutritious. But just for a day or two when eating really hurts, break down and get some nice soft white or wheat bread. Sandwiches made of deviled eggs, peanut butter (creamy style) and jelly, deviled ham, tuna, chopped olive and other softer sandwich spreads will probably not cause too much discomfort. Avoid bologna, lettuce, hard cheeses, salami, roast beef or other solid meats, anything which needs to be thoroughly chewed.
Hot soup can be a lifesaver. Why not include simple bread and butter sandwich that can be dunked in the soup? The large carry-all bad that girls use for purses can easily hold small thermos, as can the knapsacks used by many students.
Canned snack containers with canned fruits and puddings are a great invention. And of course, applesauce has sustained many an orthodontic patient. Cookies without nuts or raisins that can be dunked in milk or coffee on the break are welcome, as are cubes of sponge or angel food cake.
No one ever passed a law AGAINST hot cereal for supper or cottage cheese for breakfast.
Gourmet snacks for parties can include squares of soft bread for dips, soft cheeses, soft spreads, refried beans and burritos. And who could feel deprived after dipping a cube of angel food cake in chocolate fondue?
Opening your lunch the day after an adjustment and finding that your mom has cut the crusts off the edges of your sandwich.
What do you order when the family takes Mom out for her birthday? Poached fish, spaghetti, a gourmet stuffed potato (without “crunchies” on top), soup or chowder, omelet’s are good choices. If you are in a very classy restaurant, tell the waiter your problem and ask him to suggest something. A good waiter or waitress will consider it an honor to be challenged, and will be extremely helpful and gracious. If it’s a bad day, and chewing ANYTHING is out of the question, order soup and a chocolate milkshake! One hundred years from now what difference will it make if a balanced meal wasn’t eaten that one evening? Don’t spoil the party by making a big fuss over what the one with tender teeth orders.
People of all ages can tolerate discomfort with a minimum of complaining if they know that someone else is concerned about them. If you are the patient, take care of yourself, be good to yourself. You deserve it! And if you are close to the patient, be sympathetic, they deserve it! Treatment time will fly!