Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.
Many of the convenient foods on the Atkins diet are forbidden to those with braces. Some of the best Atkins food choices like hard nuts, granola, popcorn and hard fruit like apples. Many Atkins bars themselves are off-limits with braces due to the sticky caramel or granola components. How do you adhere to the Atkins diet with braces?
Protein Sources Safe for Braces and Atkins
You can enjoy hardboiled eggs on the Atkins diet while wearing braces. You can eat phase one acceptable foods from the Atkins list when you have braces if you cook them until tender and take care to floss afterwards. Food you can enjoy with braces on Atkins include but are not limited to: shrimp without the shell, diced clams, crab meat, sliced oysters, fish, tuna, salmon, trout and halibut. Avoid sardines and any fish with bones.
Poultry is a good option for those with braces and struggling to stay on Atkins. Whether you bake the chicken until tender or buy microwave ready chicken dices you can eat without chewing, there are many Atkins appropriate foods for those with braces. Enjoy lean lunch meat like ham, turkey and roast beef. Ground beef is easier to eat than steak, requiring less slicing and dicing beforehand.
Avoid crunchy bacon and ham cured with sugar. Soft bacon is safe as long as it is thoroughly cooked. Pork, veal, lamb and venison are Atkins approved and safe for braces if you cook them long enough to be tender and floss thoroughly after eating. Chicken wings and ribs are allowed with braces if you cut the meat off. However, if you have braces, you cannot have beef jerky. Try pre-cooked microwavable meatballs as a low effort, high protein snack instead. If you would like an instant high protein snack, open a tuna salad kit but eat it without the crackers. Or dig into egg salad.
Many dentists state that stringy meats aren’t worth the effort to clean, but this is a scheduling concern. For many with braces and time constraints, dumping low carb vegetables and meat in a slow cooker to enjoy later is an acceptable trade off; come home and eat whenever you are ready for it, then brush and floss your teeth at your leisure.
Soft nuts are perfect when you're in braces and on Atkins. Macadamia nuts and pecans are ideal.
Low-Carb Fruits and Vegetables
You can enjoy cranberries, blueberries and a few other fruit are both safe enough for braces and suitable for the Atkins diet. Likewise, apple wedges are acceptable but the whole fruit is literally more than you can chew. Try some of the fruit and vegetable purees offered in the canned fruit or lunch box stuffing aisle. Fruit purees like GoGoSqueeze are healthy, if you count the carbs. Fruit and vegetable purees are usually lower in carbs but can be mistaken for baby food.
Blackberries are an Atkins approved fruit you can have if you’re careful to get all the seeds out of your teeth. Enjoy seedless watermelon or take care not to get watermelon seeds stuck in your teeth.
Try eating mashed cauliflower with cheese sauce in place of mashed potatoes.
Vegetables for Atkins and Braces
If you have braces, Atkins approved dietary options like carrot sticks are off the list. You can have carrots if you cut them into “curls”. Consider sliced cucumbers, cooked asparagus, avocado pieces, cooked celery, cooked peas and similar low carb vegetables cooked and cut up to small bite sized pieces are both braces-safe and Atkins approved. Mushrooms are another option, soft, low calorie and readily available canned or fresh. Enjoy diced tomatoes, but avoid large bites. Fried tofu is another low-carb, high protein option for those with braces.
For those with braces, another way to get enough vegetables in your diet by consuming purees. Whether you want to eat pureed pumpkin, careful not to get the pumpkin pie mixes that are high in sugar, or low sugar vegetable juices, there are Atkins options safe for braces.
Dairy Options for Those with Braces and a Low Carb Diet
Enjoy low carb yogurt. You can add almost any fruit to the yogurt if you run it through a blender or food processor to make a soft smoothie. Soft low-carb cheeses like mozzarella sticks are suitable for braces and Atkins. Ricotta and cottage cheese are ideal.
Atkins, Pasta and Braces
Orthodontists love to say that pasta is your friend when you have braces, but most pasta wreaks havoc on your blood sugar level. Try Atkins brand pasta to have a brace-friendly and low carb dinner, as long as it is accompanied by low-carb pasta sauce. Or buy an Atkins frozen dinner that has low carb pasta in it to minimize prep time.
High Protein / Low Carb Soups
When you have braces, soups and stews become favorite foods, especially the day or two after your braces were tightened. Chicken broth, beef bullion, cream of chicken, avgolemeno (a Greek chicken soup with lemon and eggs), cauliflower soup, low-carb tomato soup, crab and mushroom soup, even vegetable beef soup if you leave out the potatoes and flour are good options. Making your own in the slow cooker is more likely to yield a low carb result than most store bought soups.
Atkins and orthodontists agree that sugary sodas are off-limits. Atkins allows diet soda if you count the carbs, but orthodontists don’t permit diet soda with braces. Alternatives include flavored waters like Dasani Sparkling and many dye-free, calorie-free flavored waters by Soda Stream are suitable for both Atkins and braces.
Note: Drink the Atkins low carb shakes on the days your braces are so painful you can only stand a liquid diet.
Sugar-free jello, sugar free pudding and similar low calorie, low carb desserts are an option. Make fruit purees and top with sugar-free, calorie free whipped cream. Make your own low carb milkshakes or chill but not freeze an Atkins shake.
Atkins and braces are not mutually exclusive. While you cannot enjoy peanuts and peanut butter, almonds and Almond joy, there are still many food selections available to those wearing braces and on the Atkins diet.
Tamara Wilhite (author) from Fort Worth, Texas on February 10, 2015:
This article is the result of my husband's need to stay on Atkins and concern that he couldn't eat anything on the Atkins diet with braces.
Demas W Jasper from Today's America and The World Beyond on February 09, 2015:
I am not a fan of the Atkins Diet, braces or no braces. Are you professionally into it?