Got Soup?…The TMJ Diet

Whenever someone hears about my jaw, the first question they ask is —-‘How do you eat? I guess it’s become second nature for me, I don’t even think about it…when I go to any restaurant, I automatically ask about the soup of the day.

The most common question that people ask when you are sick or recovery from surgery is, ‘What can I bring you to eat?’ Jaw surgery patients get the same question, but the food choices are few and far between. Throughout my life as a TMJ surgery patient, I have spent years with my jaws wired shut and living on soft chew and non-chew diets. It’s probably the hardest part of life with TMJD.

I don’t think that most people can picture what it looks like to have your jaw wired shut, so I’m attaching a picture. There are three screws drilled through the gum and bone. Wires are wrapped around them multiple times so that there isn’t any slack to pull on the screws. I had one tooth pulled on the right side of my face, and I can fit a syringe through the hole to feed myself liquid. I was wired shut like this for 4 months (September 2018-January 2019). Prior to that I was wired using surgical hooks on the brackets of my braces.

Inter-maxillary mandibular fixation- Screws through the gums

Surgical hooks on braces
What it feels like— a torture device from a horror movie

Diet and nutrition is an important part of the treatment plan for so many medical conditions like Irritable Bowel, Crohn’s Disease, Diabetes, Allergies, Hypertension, Cancer, and a number of Autoimmune diseases. Every time I turn around there’s a new Gluten-free, Vegan, Low-sugar, Nut-free and Dairy-free food options popping up. Restaurant from 5star to fast food are catering to dietary restrictions. Customers can order a gluten free/vegan option without making any special requests!

But a TMJ patient will be hard pressed to find a snack that won’t dislocate their jaw at an arena, on an airplane or in a movie theater. There are concessions for every kind of dietary restriction imaginable, EXCEPT for the soft-chew/non-chew diet.

It seems unimportant, until you are the one who is hungry. It’s interesting to watch how this problem impacts the patient who hasn’t been dealing with this issue for a lifetime. Kanye West wrote a song ‘Through The Wire’ about his experience with a wired jaw. The record catapulted him to stardom!

I was at a bat mitzvah for my friends daughter while my jaw was wired shut. When I got to the reception and they placed a steak in from of me, I politely took out my cell phone and typed a note explaining my situation and requesting hot water in a tea-cup. I pulled a bouillon cube out of my purse and made myself some consommé. Soup to the rescue once again!

No one has adequately addressed the diet of patients who can’t masticate. During the last 8 hospital stays, post-surgical meals were inedible- not because they didn’t have enough salt- because I literally couldn’t get them into my mouth. The nutritionist would stop by and talk to me about the importance of a balanced diet, but putting on a tray isn’t helping me: my tray included eggs, jello, pudding and meatloaf. I was eating though a syringe and the only thing I could get down was clear liquid, so once I got home I spent the next 4 months blending my favorite soup until it was smooth enough to drink.

Meal delivery services are all the rage. Although these companies aren’t designed with TMJ patients in mind, I found a few delivery services that cater to our needs. I hope you will find this list helpful. Because when you are home and feeling less than energetic, the last thing on your mind is cooking. I haven’t tried them yet, but stay tuned for reviews.

Another important thing to remember is that after surgery your sense of taste changes for a while. So don’t stock up on anything until you see whether you like it after you wake up from anesthesia. A week after surgery, I found my favorite kinds of soup from Zabar’s and Hale and Hearty, and I kept a weekly supply on hand.

The links below are for soup delivery services. Some of them are plant based, others are comfort food, and some offer a variety of diets and options.

Spoonful Of Comfort

This comfort soup has no preservatives or additives-giving it the delicious taste of home. Full of flavor that is unmatched by any commercially processed soups, these soup baskets will show your loved ones how deeply you care for them.

A little homemade goodness can go further than you can imagine. With a thoughtful gourmet chicken noodle soup basket, you can give cheer to someone who needs it, even from a distance. Spoonful of Comfort is here to help you, so you can send the perfect gift that says everything you wish you were there to say.

Osso Good Bone Broth

At Osso Good, we make bone broths and paleo soups. Nutrient-Dense foods made with organic ingredients that are also gluten free, Whole30 Approved and Certified Paleo. We are very proud to make our own bone broth in small, controlled batches to ensure the quality is always consistent and the taste is always amazing.

There is a reason why your Grandma always cooked up a pot of chicken soup when you were feeling ill. Bone Broth has been used and prescribed for centuries by physicians and grandmothers alike in all traditional cultures to help heal you from the inside out. By slowly simmering the bones, meat, tendons/ligaments, and feet of an animal, you are able to transfer their nourishing benefits into an easily digestible liquid. The remaining broth contains gelatin, essential amino acids, and minerals that are giving bone broth the new title of, “superfood”.

  • Supports the immune system
  • Promotes healthy digestion by healing and sealing the gut
  • Strengthens bones, skin, nails and hair
  • Reduces inflammation and joint pain
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Promotes better sleep

Splendid Soup

Splendid Spoon offers ready-to-eat, nourishing, plant-based smoothies, soups and grain bowls. Each meal contains fresh plant-based, gluten-free, and GMO-free ingredients – all clean ingredients.

Daily Harvest

Daily Harvest creates delicious and nourishing smoothies, soups, oats, lattes and more. Our food is built on organic, thoughtfully sourced fruits and vegetables.

Send A Meal

Send soup as a get well or surgery recovery gift. We offer soups ranging from lobster bisque to tomato basil.

Each month’s soups serves two or four people.

Join the Soup of the Month Club and each month you’ll receive a gourmet soup. Each soup gift will be delivered during the 3rd to 4th week of each month according to length your meal plan.

Magic Kitchen

The Soup for the Soul Bundles have been handpicked to include our best soups. We offer a regular size version of soups, and a mini version. Both bundles can include breads if you prefer. *Note: Some items in this bundle require cooking in the oven. Those are marked with an (RC).

Soup and Bread, the perfect meal!

  • Vegetable Beef Barley Soup
  • Broccoli, Mushroom & Zucchini Soup
  • Chicken and Rice Vegetable Soup
  • California Beef Stew
  • Many Bean Soup
  • Tomato Basil Bisque 
  • Vegetable Stew

Soup for the Soul Bundle with Breads Soup for the Soul Bundle Soups, PLUS an assortment of breads 

  • Whole Grain Rolls
  • Carrot Zucchini Muffins
  • Corn Bread Blueberry Toaster Cakes
  • French Bread
  • Fresh Herb Focaccia
  • Pesto Cheese Flatbread (RC)
  • Verdura Gourmet Artisan Flatbread with Kalamata Olives (RC)

Impromptu Gourmet

Warm your soul on chilly winter days with this collection of hearty and delicious soups. The Soup Sampler includes: Tomato Grilled Cheese Soup, French Onion Soup, and Loaded Baked Potato Soup. Simply pop the entire soup into a dish and bake up for a warm, flavorful treat. As easy as they are delicious. You get two of each flavor, six 10 oz. individual soup portions total. 

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