Don’t quit your healthy eating plan just yet!

It’s so commonplace it’s almost laughable. Everybody overeats during the holidays, fails to work out, looks back on the previous year, and resolves to make a change: in the new year, I will be healthier. I’ll get fit. I’ll trim down. I’ll join the gym. I’ll stop eating junk food.

And just in time for those sentiments, the advertisements begin: treadmills on sale. BOGO yoga pants. You notice more pre-made salads ready to grab at the deli. The gym parking lot is packed. It’s a new year! New year, new you!

Inevitably, these attempts at lifestyle change are short-lived. They were ill-conceived to begin with: based on vanity rather than substantive goals, entered without enough preparation, and insufficient to meet the desired outcomes. But just as you may be thinking about giving up on your healthy eating goals, consider these reasons to keep the nutritious food coming in 2016!

  • Those carrot sticks? Maybe they would taste better glazed in honey or dipped in a vat of ranch dressing, but good old fashioned carrot sticks the way nature intended them are great for your teeth. The crispy crunch of a carrot helps clean teeth by scraping off debris between brushing sessions and clearing away plaque building up a the gumline. Don’t quit the carrots just yet.
  • And celery? Celery is nature’s dental floss. Yeah, it’s best sauteed in olive oil and added to the base of your favorite calorie-dense cream-based soup, but when you do venture to eat it raw, those stringy parts are great for getting in between teeth. Even when you may not realize it, celery is a functional food. It’s doing work while you eat it. Chew on.
  • Guzzle that water. So what if your resolution has you spending most of 2016 so far in the ladies’ room? All that water is great for your skin, hair, nails, and… teeth! The water washes away sugar and starches usually left to their own devices on our teeth after we consume. And that makes a huge difference in tooth decay, enamel loss, and eventual cavity formation. Keep the water coming. We think it’s cute how you slosh when you walk.
  • Lean dairy is for winners. We’re not talking about wine and cheese pairings either. It’s that diet kind of lean protein cheese. Low-fat mozzarella and all that. Dairy does amazing work for your teeth. They are, after all, bone! If you didn’t have enough reason to keep working on the lowfat cheeses and yogurts, consider this: remineralization. Dairy actually deposits minerals back into your teeth and helps repair damage caused by decay. Dude, keep drinking the dairy!
  • Sugar free everything. Yeah, sugar substitutes may seem suspect, but you haven’t grown a tail just yet. The sugar-free pudding, sugar-free salad dressing, sugar-free candy, sugar-free gum, and sugar-free sugar (Splenda!) really is making a difference in your smile. We can’t say what’s going on internally, for sure, but your teeth are getting a break from the nasty bacteria that love to feast on sugary, starchy foods. You’re putting them on a diet when you refuse to eat sugary substances. Let’s starve the sugar-eating bacteria in your mouth just a while longer.
  • All that grilled, broiled, and boiled food: perhaps you’re missing a deep fried hunk of chicken right about now. But keep at it with the grilled, broiled, and boiled. The lower-calorie alternatives help boost your metabolism, clear your palate, and contribute to overall wellness. Your mouth is happy when it’s delivering healthier foods to your gut.

We know, it’s a week into January and you’re tired of the diet. The food has grown boring and you’re tempted to return to the old routine of 2015. Don’t give in! Forget about that goal of looking better, losing a few pounds, and regaining some fitness. Instead, focus on what these power foods do for your smile.

The smile you’ll see when you look back at yourself in the mirror January 1, 2017. Don’t quit! Your smile will thank you!