It’s that time of year again when you will need to keep in mind what to eat and what to stay away from this holiday season. While the holiday season is a great time for families to spend time together, it can be a cause of stress for people with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (TMD). If you are in pain and have jaw issues, keep these helpful tips in mind to make it through TMD pain this holiday season while still enjoying your favorite meals.

Avoid crunchy and chewy foods

Of course there will be a mixture of crunchy and chewy foods on the table this holiday season. However, it is important not to indulge. Most crunchy foods, such as hard, crusty breads and crackers, can place strain on a person’s jaw. And those chewy foods? They can also worsen TMD pain. This is because chewy foods are often sweet, enjoyable treats that might be hard to avoid. You might want the gum, caramel and gummy candy, but it is important to take a pass on those to avoid TMJ pain this season.

Take smaller bites

You may also be tempted to eat everything in sight without chewing it all the way through. Don’t worry, we all get excited for this delicious food. However, it is important to remain patient and take your time. Large foods require opening your mouth wide, which can overextend the jaw and cause pain if you suffer from TMD. Even large sandwiches with leftover turkey can overextend the jaw. Try using a fork and knife to cut food into smaller pieces that are easier to eat and won’t cause added TMJ pain.

Choose more vegetables

Say, “yes” to more vegetables! However, it is important to choose wisely when deciding which vegetables to eat. For example, try to avoid raw carrots and celery. This is because they are harder and require more chewing. This can lead to a sore jaw. On the other hand, though, if the carrots are cooked, then they are soft enough to not hurt your jaw.

Bring soft or request foods

When visiting family this season, try doing your part in bringing soft foods to the holiday party. This will add to the options for what you can eat. In addition to this, make sure those who are hosting events know of your need for a soft diet. Most people want to know ahead of time and will make sure to have something available. They don’t want you to miss out on wonderful food.

If you have any questions about what you can eat and what you should avoid, contact Dr. Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for TMD tips.