National Nutrition Month: Healthy, TMJ-Friendly Meals & Recipes

Good nutrition is a staple for good health. Eating nutritious foods provides your body with the fuel it so you can look and feel your best.

People with temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) should pay special attention to their nutritional intake because the right foods can be used to help alleviate symptoms of TMD. Eating junk food and lacking in certain vitamins and minerals means your body’s inflammation can be higher, leading to jaw pain, and problems like stress can be magnified – leading to more TMD symptoms. And, your joints and muscles need nutrients from food to function at their best – and that includes your hard-working temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Fortunately, eating right with TMD doesn’t have to be a chore. Whether you’re a novice chef or have been cooking for years, you can explore easy recipes that suit your tastes and are easy on your TMJ.

What to Look for in TMD Recipes

Everyone’s taste is different, but a few simple rules can help you choose what will work best for you to help you stay healthy and relieve TMD:

  • Choose foods that are easy to chew. Avoid crunchy/raw foods, chewy breads and tough cuts of meat.

  • Look for recipes that include cooked fruits and vegetables for a burst of nutrition.

  • Include a variety of fresh foods to excite your palate and to get the whole range of nutrients you need. Try a new fruit or vegetable whenever you can and if you don’t know how to prepare it, search online for tips.

  • Use local foods whenever possible. The local farmer’s market will have produce that’s fresh and in-season. This means the foods will have the optimum amount of nutrients – and will probably taste the best too. Or, try growing some of your own favorites in your own garden!

Some Recipe Ideas from the USDA

There are a variety of places to get recipes online. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ingredients and cooking techniques – you might just find a new favorite! Here are just a few examples of great TMD-friendly recipes from the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl:

30-minute Chili


1 pound ground beef

1 onion (chopped)

2 cups Light red kidney beans (cooked)

1 can tomato soup (no water added)

1 tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)

10 drops hot pepper sauce (to taste, if you like)


1. In a large skillet, brown the meat for about 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Drain the meat; add onion and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add kidney beans, soup, and chili powder and heat for 5 minutes.
If using hot pepper sauce, add that too.

Fish with Spinach


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound skinless cod fillets

1 yellow onion (peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces)

2 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)

2 cups canned low-sodium diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)

1/2 cup water

2 cups frozen spinach (coarsely chopped)

1/4 cup Kalamata olives (or other Greek olives pitted and coarsely chopped)


1.     Put the skillet on the stove over high heat. When it is hot, add 1½ teaspoons oil.

2.     Add fish. Cook about 5 minutes per side, until deeply browned. Remove the fish to the plate and cover.

3.     Reheat the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 1½ teaspoons oil, onion, and garlic. Cook about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes and water. Cook about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens and turns from bright red to an orange color.

4.     Return fish to skillet with the tomato mixture. Cover with spinach and sprinkle with olives. Cover skillet. Cook about 2 minutes over low heat until the spinach is steamed. Serve right away.

Cooking delicious meals doesn’t have to be complicated, even if you have TMD. You can prepare healthy and TMJ-friendly foods that will keep your jaw – and your whole body – feeling its best.

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