Food for TMJ Flares: The Best Recipes To Help Heal (2024)

Whether you have TMJ arthritis or problems with the muscles around your TMJs, it can be difficult to manage TMJ jaw pain. But since I have 12+ years of experience with this, and plenty of people don’t, I wanted to share my favorite food for TMJ flares. I mean, every year or so I go through a period of 1-2 months when I have a hard time chewing. That’s at least a year’s worth of time!

Take advantage of my experience and keep reading to learn more about what TMJ is and what I eat when I’m having problems with my TMJs.

I am not a doctor or medical professional of any kind. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Kate the (Almost) Great™!

Food for TMJ Flares: The Best Recipes To Help Heal (1)

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What Is TMJ?

Food for TMJ Flares: Smoothies

Food for TMJ Flares: Sides, Appetizers, and Snacks

What Is TMJ?

As the Mayo Clinic says, “The temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur) joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull” (x). So while many people think “TMJ” is the name of a condition, it actually stands for the name of the joint. Mayo explains, “You have one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorders — a type of temporomandibular disorder or TMD — can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement” (x).

What most people think when you say “I have TMJ” is temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders. The NIH says, “Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders […] are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement” (x).

In my case, a TMJ flare is a flare of arthritis in my TMJs.

What You Should Know About TMJ Arthritis

Food for TMJ Flares: The Best Recipes To Help Heal (2)

Now that we’ve covered what TMJ actually is, let’s get into foods and recipes! I’m sharing the products, categories, and recipes that I actually eat during my TMJ flares.

Food for TMJ Flares: Smoothies

Smoothies are, in general, some of the BEST things to eat when you’re having trouble with your jaw in any way. To be honest, though, I make the same version of a smoothie every single time. If you’re looking for other recipes, I’ve compiled a bunch of them in this Pinterest board.

That being said, here’s what my smoothie recipe is:

  • 1-2 cups of greens (spinach, kale, or a combination)
  • 1-2 cups of frozen berries
  • 1-2 cups of almond or oat milk
  • 1 spoonful of hemp protein powder
  • 1 spoonful of ground flax meal
  • 1 spoonful of chia seeds
  • 1 spoonful of creamy peanut butter

I’m able to have the same smoothie all the time because it doesn’t taste exactly the same every time. I generally have a mix of frozen berries, which I either buy in individual small bags or as a large frozen berry mix, and the exact composition of the berries in the smoothie drastically controls the taste.

Similarly, it tastes different if I use spinach or kale; if the milk is unsweetened, unsweetened vanilla (my favorite), or vanilla; if the milk is almond or oat; if I use a small or large amount of peanut butter; etc.

If you’re allergic to peanut butter or you don’t like it in your smoothies, you can use a banana instead. I personally hate bananas and can’t eat something with even the smallest hint of bananas, which is why I use peanut butter.

I also hate any flavored protein powder, and since I can’t have dairy, soy, or gluten, that eliminates most protein powders that aren’t hemp.

The flax seed meal and chia seeds provide fiber, which is great for a variety of reasons, one of which is it helps you stay full longer. This is absolutely essential if you struggle with chewing and/or are on increased steroids, which I always am when I have a TMJ flare.

The Best Food Substitutions for Common Intolerances

Food for TMJ Flares: The Best Recipes To Help Heal (3)

Now that we’ve covered smoothies, let’s chat about other foods and recipes!

Food for TMJ Flares: Baked Goods & Breakfasts

Pumpkin spice breakfast cookies

Pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins

Vegan gluten-free brownies

Glazed chocolate-avocado cupcakes

Overnight oats – The link sends you to my favorite recipe!

Chex cereal – To be clear, I eat cereal dry because I don’t like the taste of most non-dairy milks. But of the cereals I eat, I find Chex to be the easiest ones to eat with little work from my TMJs. I break them up with my tongue and the roof of my mouth, so there’s little work required from the joints themselves. It’s nearly impossible to do this with other cereals, especially Cheerios, which is the other cereal I eat the most.

7 Yummy Crockpot Recipes

Food for TMJ Flares: Sides, Appetizers, and Snacks

5 ingredient peanut butter energy bites

Baked potatoes

Quinoa salad

Sweet potato fries

Garlic and paprika roasted cauliflower

Apple sauce


Lara bars

Enjoy Life soft-baked cookies – These can still be difficult to eat, but they’re way easier to eat than hard-baked cookies. As I mentioned previously, there are a bunch of foods that I can’t eat, and they aren’t limited to the ones I’ve already mentioned. Enjoy Life is an incredible brand that caters to food allergies, and they’re free of the most common allergens.

Alternatively, homemade cookies are the easiest to eat, as you can control how gooey, caky, etc. they are.

Peppers, cucumbers, and hummus – This is not to say that eating these (especially peppers) is easy; it’s just easier than other vegetables like raw carrots. But eating cucumbers is relatively easy! I’ve added hummus here because everything I eat is important when it’s hard for me to chew during a TMJ flare. I need to get the most out of every meal and snack, so adding an easy-to-chew source of protein is essential.

7 Arthritis Myths Busted: Do You Know The Truth?

Food for TMJ Flares: The Best Recipes To Help Heal (4)

Food for TMJ Flares: Entrees

Sheet pan chili lime salmon

Slow cooker chicken with broccoli and sweet potatoes – This recipe and method of cooking make everything SO moist and it falls apart easily.

Slow cooker tomato, kale, and quinoa soup

Slow cooker seasoned chicken, green beans, and potatoes – The slow cooker really makes this all easier to chew than if it were cooked in the oven.

Sheet pan everything bagel chicken and veggies – The everything bagel seasoning keeps the chicken so moist that it’s pretty easy to chew!

Chicken and spinach skillet pasta with lemon and parmesan

Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Grilled Chicken

Crockpot lemon garlic butter chicken

The following recipes are from an ebook I bought from Abra’s Kitchen! I love them all, and I’m so happy with them. I strongly suggest checking out her blog and recipes, even though the following aren’t available without buying the ebook.

Greek kale and quinoa salad meal prep bowls

Spaghetti squash with spinach and chickpeas

Lemon thyme roasted sole and asparagus

Mediterranean sheet pan salmon with zucchini noodles

14 Amazing Simple Healthy Recipes for Dinner

Like this post? Share it! Then check out:

What’s In My Tool Box for Dealing with Chronic Pain, What Does Arthritis Pain Feel Like?, Arthritis Glossary: Frequently Used Words, What Is the Difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Food for TMJ Flares: The Best Recipes To Help Heal (5)

Kate Mitchell

Kate Mitchell is a blogger, chronic illness patient, and advocate who helps people understand chronic illness and helps chronic illness patients live their best lives.


Food for TMJ Flares: The Best Recipes To Help Heal (2024)
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