So, as the festive holiday of Purim approaches, I think about the same thing as I do when Halloween comes and goes... candy!
Is it just me? Or does anyone else wonder who thought of these holidays that became synonymous with candy/sweets overload?
One might think it was a dentist! However, it seems that we are the only ones creating an awareness and caution to its challenge. I found that the suggestion of giving out apple slices for trick or treat or in Purim baskets was voted down by my family unanimously year after year.
Let’s discuss mishloach manot, Purim baskets. How do we navigate these delicious, attractive collection of goodies?
So yes, it’s simple to say, stay away! But not that easy to do. These thematic, attractive cornucopias of colorful, sweet foods are too good to resist. Most of us enjoy these snacks and have a “sweet tooth,” myself included (I know, shocking).
As we know, the most popular offending ingredient is sugar. It’s in most foods we eat. Some sweeter than others. Some found naturally, and many others added. However, it’s not so much the traces of sugar present, but the amount and form in which it presents in each food product. Is it just sugar, or is there an acid component as well? As we have discussed in previous articles, not only does sugar attack our teeth, but the acid eats away at our enamel as well, thus beginning the cavity process.
So, as I tell all my patients, the “one-two punch” of all consumables is soda—acid plus sugar. Add to that sour candy (acidic), sour belts, sour patch kids… Are you catching on? And, by the way, 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar! There are sodas and sport drinks that have over 30 grams of sugar in them; that equals over 8 teaspoons of sugar! This comes as a shock to most.
Next question: is it sticky? If it’s sticky, then it gets stuck in your teeth. Adults may put their fingers in their mouth to release those particles (please make sure they are clean and you do it discretely), however, most kids don’t. So it stays there to start its cavity process. Sticky foods can include anything from raisins to jelly beans. So just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean it can’t do its damage. Some people think I only recommend carrots and celery as snacks. While these are excellent choices, your basket won’t be too popular this Purim with only these items.
I like chocolate, cookies and cake. Wow! Yes, I did say that. They taste good, you chew them, they dissolve fairly easily and wash away with water. And as I always say, water is the key! Chase it with water, and you will reduce much of the potential damage.
As we approach another Jewish holiday season full of delicious delicacies, let’s make some wise choices for a healthier mouth. Enjoy your hamantashen!
Chag sameach, and a freilichen Purim!
By Dr. Brian M. Kalb