Healthy Mouth, Healthy Self

Welcome to our one year anniversary post! How quickly the time goes. Thank you for following, reading, and your feedback. It is always a pleasure writing for an engaged audience. Also, a huge thank you to my wife, Shannon, for writing this month's Guest Perspective post. Enjoy!

“They” say that the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. By “they,” of course I mean my husband and all of the other dental nerds that are our friends. As dentists, they know that our mouths often show symptoms of other systemic health issues, and that proper dental care contributes to overall health. However, “they” also includes folks who are just trying to lead healthy lives, like me. For me, the “gateway to the body” concept goes beyond oral health (and trust me, I have a pretty solid brushing/flossing routine) - it’s also about healthy eating, an obviously important component of overall health.

In just the last few years, I’ve developed a new relationship with food: I’m still learning, but I’m starting to understand what people mean when they say that food is fuel for the body (example). Simultaneously, I've developed a new relationship with physical activity, especially running. It seems simple in theory: what food we put into our bodies affects not only how our bodies look, but also what they can do and what we can expect of ourselves. But in practice, it’s often difficult: how do I increase my intake of carbs and protein to support my running and weightlifting without going overboard, considering most of my day is spent at my desk at work? For me, sustainability is key - I don't want fad diets or fast-fix weight loss/muscle-building programs. I’m working toward a healthy lifestyle overall. And though I’m developing more questions than answers, I thought, for now, I’d share a handful of simple lessons that have made an impact on my health journey. 1. I don’t always snack, but when I do, it’s protein. Mid-morning, you'll find me with a plain, nonfat Greek yogurt cup with blueberries or other fruit mixed in. Greek yogurt provides about 30% of my daily recommended dose of protein, and tides me over until lunch.

The Most Interesting Man in the World Photo 13x19"
2. Limit added sugar. Sugar is pretty much impossible to cut entirely, but I try to get most of it from fruits (where it’s naturally occurring). I also try to substitute those types of sugar sources (e.g. bananas) when I bake, instead of using white sugar.

3. Pinterest is a great resource. I don’t care if it makes me sound basic, I have a love affair with Pinterest. It’s great for recipes and ideas for healthy ingredient substitutions.
4. Explore your local farmers’ market. My favorite summer Saturday morning routine is a good workout followed by a trip to the downtown Canton farmers’ market. The lettuce, peaches, and cheese are seriously the best.

5. Homemade is better. Eating at restaurants isn't a habit of mine. Plus, some things I crave at restaurants or from the store are pretty simple to make at home, like whole wheat pizza dough (using the bread maker), oat bars (no-bakes!), Cincinnati chili (with ground turkey), and even homemade sushi (some elbow grease required). Cooking at home gives us healthier options, is cheaper, and George and I get some quality time together exploring new cooking techniques, foods, and flavors. #willYUMS Lastly, I strongly believe that the words that come out of my mouth about nutrition and fitness are just as important to my health as the food I put in it. That means I strive to keep myself on a diet of positive self-talk about my body image, to never criticize other people’s bodies, and to challenge others to do the same. We’re all on highly individualized health journeys - these journeys simultaneously involve a ton of small choices each day, and also can take years to actualize. Wherever you see yourself on your journey, put your motivation where your mouth is, and remember that patience, trial and error, and openness to learning are key.

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Shannon McMahon Williams is a Program Officer for the Sisters of Charity Foundation in downtown Canton. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University (B.A. English) and Ohio University (M.A. Literature).

Dr. George R. Williams is a general dentist at Williams Family Dental Group in Canton, Ohio. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry and Canton Mercy Medical Center General Practice Residency.  For questions or suggestions for blog posts, please feel free to contact him at

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