Guide to meal planning with braces
Most of us have to contend with “bad” teeth at some point in our lives. Luckily, we have numerous options to fix them, including wearing braces. In fact, at any given point in time, around four million people in the U.S. are wearing braces. In recent years, the most popular bracer type is invisible braces. They provide their wearers with greater visual appeal but even the top invisible braces require additional maintenance. Since braces can get very expensive, it’s in your best interest to do everything you can to maximize their effect. And that leads us to meal planning with braces.
Why is meal planning with braces so important?
Due to the brace construction, people wearing them need to be very careful what they eat. Some foodstuffs can “get in the way”, and compromise the integrity of your braces, or reduce their effectiveness. That being said, there are many different types of braces to take into consideration, and some types can be more forgiving than others. Therefore, it is extremely important to be very considerate when it comes to creating your meal plan.
The main thing to consider when creating a meal plan when you are wearing braces is what you cannot eat. Furthermore, you need to consider that the initial period (when you fit your braces for the first time) is a lot more food-sensitive. During this period, you will want to stick to soft foods, such as macaroni and cheese. You may also want to look into incorporating bananas, oatmeal, soups, seafood, and similar items into your diet. But we will get to that. For now, let’s focus on what you should not eat while wearing braces.
Foodstuff to avoid on a bracer meal plan
The simplest way to describe foods that you need to avoid is anything that is sticky, gooey, crunchy, or chewy. That means you will want to avoid any hard candies and nuts, any sort of popcorn, pretzels, pizza crust, etc. Furthermore, you will also want to remove any nuts from your diet for the time being. All of those foods have the potential to interfere with what your braces are doing, or make them harder to maintain.
You may also want to consult with your orthodontist, as they will be able to provide you with a more detailed breakdown. One of the main qualities of a good orthodontist is the ability to provide a customized meal plan for their patients. That being said, you can also create a meal plan of your own simply by choosing the foods that are “bracer-safe”.
Foods that you might want to be careful of
While the above foods are definitely a big “no-no” when considering a meal plan, there are some foods that fall into the “be careful with them” category. They include:
- Raw vegetables
- Some fruits (apples and pears mainly)
- Bagels and French bread
While you can definitely include any of the above in your bracer meal plan, you will want to make sure that the food is cut into small, bite-sized, pieces. That will minimize the effect these foods have on your braces. Do note that preparing your food this way (especially if you are not used to it) can take considerable time and effort. It is definitely something to consider when creating your meal plan. But similar to warning signs that you need braces, you will want to heed this advice. No one is saying that you need to give up all your favorite foods but you need to be much more careful with them. After all, you will not have to do so forever, just for the brace-wearing period.
Meal planning with braces – Nutrients
We eat food mainly for the nutrients that it offers. Of course, we also like to enjoy the taste. With this in mind, when doing meal planning with braces, you will want to ensure that you get enough of:
- Fruits and vegetables
The last category, sweets, is not absolutely necessary of course, but they can do a lot for your mental state. Also, if you are looking into efficient ways to whiten teeth while you are wearing braces, you might want to avoid any foods that might stain your teeth. You will also want to pause or minimize your smoking habits if you have them. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you can eat to get these specific nutrients.
The main “brace-safe” sources of protein include:
- Shredded chicken
As you might notice, all of the above foods do not fall into any of the “forbidden” categories. These foods are easy to chew (or require no chewing at all) while providing you with the necessary protein. By consuming these foods, you will also be able to maintain your oral health more easily, as you will have no additional difficulties brushing and flossing. Your meal plan should always include at least some source of protein, as this nutrient is very important for the functioning of our bodies.
Another food that you will want to include in your meal plan is grains. However, you will want to limit yourself to the following:
- Waffles and pancakes
- Cooked rice
- Muffins without nuts
Of course, there are also other foods that can provide you with grains but these are the most commonly used ones. Again, you will want to consult with your orthodontist about what you can and cannot include in your diet. And it also depends on the brace type that you are wearing.
As far as fruits and vegetables go, you will always want to include them in a liquid form if possible. That is the absolute best option at your disposal. You can make a smoothie in literally a thousand ways (and more), providing you with a different taste every single time.
Alternatively, you may want to utilize canned fruit, soft-cooked vegetables, as well as mashed potatoes. You can also eat any soft fruit, provided that you slice it before consuming it. Bananas are, of course, always good to eat when wearing braces.
To be perfectly honest, you should always try to limit your intake of sweets, braces or no. However, if you have a craving for something sweet, here are a couple of “safe” options:
- Ice cream
- Sweet bread (remove the crust)
Meal planning with braces – Daily plan
You do not need to create an elaborate meal plan straight away. Start with experimenting with “safe” foods, and see what you like the most. Since the vast majority of your chewing will be done with the back of your teeth, an adaptation period is required.
Once you are more accustomed to your braces and are ready to create a daily meal plan, you may want to start by choosing a free printable meal planner template. You can also take the old-fashioned route and utilize paper and pencil.
You may want to “load” your breakfast on protein. This will provide you with long-term energy for the day. Looking at the table above, here are some examples of “good” breakfast foods when wearing braces:
- Fruit smoothies
- Eggs (scrambled or soft)
- Oatmeal with milk and mashed fruits (bananas or pears for example)
But you can basically choose any food that is rich in protein. If you are a meat lover, for example, you may want to start your day with some meatballs. Creating the perfect meal plan comes down to your personal preferences as well. You need to start your day with something you enjoy, after all.
For many people, lunch is a very sensitive topic when they are wearing braces. The reason is the fact that you might not be at home or have the ability to prepare your own food. You can, of course, pack lunch beforehand, which is what you really need to consider doing.
When preparing your lunch, you will want to consider some of the following options:
- Cooked rice
- Grilled cheese
Dinner is, perhaps, the most difficult meal to plan for. This is especially true in larger families, where you never know who will be attending (and when). However, since you have plenty of time to prepare your food (mostly by cutting it into small pieces), you can allow yourself to consider a wider variety of foods.
Here are some braces-friendly dinner options:
- Baked potatoes
- Mac n’ cheese
- Soft cooked beans
- Spaghetti with ground beef
- Mashed potatoes
Most of us need a bit of “pick-me-up” to get through our day. When meal planning with braces, snacks are a very important part of your diet. The issue is that most snack foods are not very brace-friendly. That being said, here are some of them that are:
- Soft fruits such as raspberries
Basically, anything that is not either hard, chewy, crunchy or overly gooey, is viable as a snack. In fact, meal planning with braces is all about avoiding such foods and being careful to cut all the food into small pieces to minimize chewing.
And if you are looking for even more information about invisible braces, top brace companies, or anything concerning a healthy smile, browse and explore the rest of the Consumer Opinion Guide. Our articles will provide you with almost any information you might seek!