Ask a TMJ Specialist: What Can I Eat Without Hurting My Jaw?
Sometimes, trying to stay healthy is a difficult process. Everyone has to follow the rules of nutrition for a healthier life in general. Whether you are from Tarzana, California or anywhere else in the world, mostly everyone needs a consistent diet of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates to survive. But what if your recommended diet is causing pain in another area in your life? What if something that is good for your nutritional needs harms you physically? What if you can’t chew?
This is something that happens when a person is having issues with the joints that connect their jaw to their skull, Temporomandibular joints or TMJ. TMJ issues are a byproduct of Temporomandibular disorders or TMD. Just about anything can cause this sort of thing to happen, from blunt force trauma, arthritis, or the wear down of cartilage. At best, a patient with TMD will have chronic pain and some limited movement. At its worst, there is a very limited range of motion that is akin to paralysis.
Today, we are going to talk about the recommended soft foods that TMJ specialists recommend for patients suffering from TMD.
Sources of Protein
Proteins are an important part of our daily diet. Without it, we could not build and repair tissues. It is also responsible for enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. It is also an important building block for things like bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. But the idea of chewing meat of any kind sounds terrifying with someone who has jaw issues. So what can be a good replacement for a steak or something else chewy?
Thankfully, not all proteins are meat-based. In fact, a lot of them are plant-based. Most of the protein combinations are found in a combination of leafy greens and beans. There are all kinds of beans that vary to taste, are easy to mash, and contain valuable vitamins and minerals. Including but not limited to:
- Vitamin B1
Another type of soft protein that often gets overlooked is eggs. They are easy to cook, versatile for a variety of dishes, and almost always come out soft. A lot of times, with older generations, TMJ patients tend to pass up eggs. This is because they are often worried about their cholesterol levels. That, however, is a misconception. Eggs do not only provide good protein, but they can also lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. So, don’t feel like you have to pass them up.
Sources of Fiber
Fiber is an important part of the daily diet. Mainly because without it, our digestive systems can’t process our food correctly, and we would have a much higher cholesterol level than we should.
However, when people think of fiber, the first thing that comes to mind is grains. While grains are good, there is also a vital amount of vitamins and minerals along with the fiber in fruits and vegetables.
So, how can you get your fiber intake without having to warp your mouth and bite down on crunchy vegetables or hard cereals?
Bread comes in varying degrees of hardness depending on the type of cooking method. It also depends on the species of wheat or grain being used for the cooking process. You might want to stick with pieces of bread that have a soft crust. Also, be wary of the nutritional content in each package.
Whole grains have a little bit of protein as well as nutritional fiber that can help with the digestive systems.
This can get you the vitamins and minerals you need for both fruits and vegetables. The fiber of the fruit is blended into an easy to drink pulp. And if it is made from natural fruits and veggies from scratch, then there is a good chance that a lot of the pectin that naturally comes in fruits and vegetables will carry over into the smoothie. They are also good for any time of the day and require no chewing.
Steamed Fruits and Vegetables
If you prefer something a little warmer, you can certainly steam your fruits and vegetables. All you need to do is keep the moisture trapped while cooking and your vegetables will be soft enough to turn into mush. This is great for people who suffer from TMJ because it is another way to get the vitamins and minerals naturally found in fruits and vegetables.