Satisfy food cravings with nutritious nosh

When you have a food craving, is it for something sweet, salty or crunchy? Cravings are natural, but they may drive you toward unhealthy foods loaded with carbohydrates, fats and sugars. 

Besides possible weight gain, you may put your oral health at risk with those choices. Starchy and sugary foods can stick to your teeth while you’re eating and cause bacteria in your mouth to become more acidic, leading to tooth decay.

However, you can satisfy food cravings with nutritious alternatives that protect your oral health. Here are some ways to do it.

Crave something sweet?

As an alternative to a sugar-laden cookie, brownie or pastry:

• Enjoy a bowl of fresh fruit, like berries or apple slices. 

• Blend a parfait or smoothie by combining some fresh fruit and yogurt. 

• Eat a piece of plain dark chocolate. It melts quickly and won’t stick to your teeth like caramel, hard candies or gummies do.


Crave something salty?

As an alternative to french fries:

• Munch on almonds, cashews and peanuts, which are packed with calcium and can help your teeth and gums stay healthy.

• Steam a bag of edamame and sprinkle with sea salt for a high-protein snack with less fat and starch.


Crave something crunchy?

As an alternative to potato or corn chips:

• Pair some carrot or celery sticks with beet hummus. Munching on healthy fruits and veggies hits the spot with savory taste sensations. 

• Bake lower-fat, lower-calorie apple, sweet potato or kale chips.


Crave carbs?

As an alternative to white bread or rice:

• Make family favorite mac and cheese with whole-grain pasta. Dairy products, like cheese, have calcium and phosphorus, minerals that help build healthy teeth. You can enjoy a zesty flavor and get more fiber by choosing whole grains over refined grains.

• Have a serving of kidney, lima, pinto or black beans. High in protein and fiber, this smooth-tasting side will keep you feeling full longer than other carbs.

Packing your pantry

Set yourself up for better food choices when cravings hit. Stock your pantry and prepare your meals and snacks in advance. By making it easy to grab healthy foods, you can stay nourished and protect your smile.