TMJ- Friendly Thanksgiving Foods You Can Cook


Many people look forward to a festive Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey and all the trimmings. But when you have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), it can be difficult to celebrate. Many traditional holiday foods can be hard on the jaw and painful for TMD patients to eat.

You can partake in your Thanksgiving dinner – even with jaw pain – with a little planning ahead. Learn which foods you should avoid, and consider cooking some TMD-friendly options that everyone can enjoy.

Thanksgiving Foods to Skip

Unfortunately, a TMD patient cannot simply sit down at the Thanksgiving table and fill their plate with anything that looks good. Many foods such as crunchy crackers or raw vegetables, chewy or crusty breads, or even a salad can taste good now but leave you in pain later. These foods require a lot of chewing and jaw movement, leading to irritation and inflammation.

Many people who eat hard-to-chew foods regret it later when their jaw pain, headaches, ear pain, and other TMD symptoms come back with a vengeance. Prevention is better than cure, so to fully enjoy your Thanksgiving, skip these potentially irritating foods.

A TMD-Friendly Feast

Fortunately, many healthy, flavorful foods are great choices for those with TMD. If you’re cooking dinner this year, put some of these on your list. If you’re going to be a guest, offer to bring one or more to the festivities. Your host may thank you for alleviating some of their workload. Great choices include:

  • Baked sweet potatoes – soft, tasty, and an excellent source of choline, which may help with muscle movement and inflammation
  • Vegetables that have been sauteed in olive oil or steamed – get all the nutrition and flavor of fresh veggies without the crunch
  • Tender turkey – who could skip this staple on Thanksgiving? If you’re cooking the turkey, consider brining the turkey to produce a more tender bird. Don’t overcook it, and let it rest for 20-30 minutes under aluminum foil before carving. You may also look at techniques such as cooking it breast side down for more juiciness. Cut small bites with your fork and knife and eat slowly to make it easier on your jaw.
  • Cornbread muffins – these will be soft and easy to chew, and pair great with turkey and vegetables. Use whole grain flour and minimal sugar for the most health benefits.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to keep your body well-hydrated, and minimize alcohol and caffeine consumption, which could trigger more TMD symptoms. Finally, to help your jaw and your whole well-being, have fun and relax!

TMD doesn’t have to stand in the way of your holidays – or your life. Contact MedCenter TMJ to get on the path to feeling like yourself again!

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