As patients of Milwaukie family dentist Dr. Sue Walker know, sugar plays a primary role in determining your long-term oral health. That’s because plaque, a sticky biofilm that clings to the surface of our teeth and along the gum line, uses the sugars we consume as fuel to produce harmful substances that irritate gum tissue and destroy tooth enamel.
Diets high in sugar can increase your risk of bad breath, tooth decay, and a whole host of other oral health problems. Fortunately, there are some ways you can successful cut back on the amount of sugar you consume daily without making any drastic changes to your lifestyle.
Look at the Label
It’s important to stay informed. When trying to reduce the amount of sugar you consume daily, you need to read the labels of everything you eat. Added sugars are often found in packaged foods that you wouldn’t otherwise consider as sweet, such as condiments and salad dressings. As a general rule, before eating anything, take a moment to determine what’s exactly in the food. Be weary of synonyms like “molasses” and the much maligned “high-fructose corn syrup” on labels.
Eat More Healthy Fats and Lean Protein
For most of us, eating too much sugar comes down to a simple matter of hunger. That late afternoon snack attack often leads us to eating something loaded with sugar out of the vending machine. Even worse, snacks high in sugar don’t even help to satiate our hunger for very long, and the subsequent drop in blood sugar once your body had digested that tasty treat could lead you right back to the vending machine in no time.
To break this cycle of sugary snacking, look for meals that contain plenty of lean protein, such as turkey breast, and healthy fats, like avocado. These types of foods will keep you full for longer and prevent you from eating excess sugar as a snack. If you just cannot resist the urge to munch on something, try eating a handful of almonds or another healthy snack instead.
Ease Into Your New Eating Habits
While cold turkey may rank as a great source of protein, it makes for a terrible strategy when trying to reduce sugar from your diet. If your daily sugar intake is typically rather high, trying to cut sugar entirely from your diet will likely lead to failure and a serious sugar craving instead.
Making regular progress is key. If you have a habit of eating a donut every afternoon, try cutting it in half and saving the rest for the next day. If you take your coffee with three sugars, try reducing down to two. Over time, you’ll become less addicted to sugar and better able to dial back your daily consumption.
Drink More Water
Dehydration actually contributes more to afternoon snacking than you may realize. Studies have found that when dehydrated, you’re far more likely to experience “phantom” hunger pains than when fully flush with water. Drinking more water a day will also mean drinking less sugary beverages like soda that often contain more than a full day’s worth of sugar in each 20-ounce bottle.
If you have any questions about the best ways to reduce the amount of sugar you consume daily, feel free to ask Milwaukie family dentist Dr. Sue Walker during your next visit.