Meet Surina Sehgal, who currently work for the NHS as a General Dental Practitioner. For those of you who don’t know her personally, you will know that her love for food is infinite (especially dessert) and her passion for cooking is her happiness! Hence the Foodie Dentist.
Being someone who is heavily passionate about food, particularly healthy and nutritional foods, Surina was gripped on the links between poor nutrition and a host of dental problems. Through reading a lot of research papers and articles, Surina found the astonishing correlation between diet and oral health. In addition, she found that there is so much awareness on healthy eating and how it affects your skin, heart or hair but very little on the impact it has on our oral health.
As a result, Surina decided to create The Foodie Dentist to inspire and educate us all about the importance of healthy eating and the effects it has on our oral health and development. Surina has always been fascinated by nutrition and its powerful benefits and we are equally excited to share this with you in her interview with us.
Hey Surina, how is your day so far?
Hey! It’s going really well thank you. As a real advocate for female empowerment, I’m so grateful to be interviewing with you today as we clearly share the same ethos. Go girl power!
You are known as the Foodie Dentist, can you tell us what a typical 24 hours for you like?
A day in the life of the Foodie Dentist, well I’m up at 6am every day. I start my day with a large glass of vegetable smoothies (recipes are up on my website) and that really helps to kick-start my day. I normally get to work around 7:40 ready to start my day at 8am sharp! I currently work full-time as a dentist. In the evenings I’m often really busy either cooking and coming up with new content for my page, gymming or spending time with my family, friends and my little dog, Troy. I’m a true homely girl.
Can you take us through the process of launching The Foodie Dentist?
I have always been fascinated by nutrition, for years I have been reading countless research papers and articles where I found the close links between oral health and nutrition. There is so much awareness of how healthy eating affects our skin, hair, and heart but very little on the impact it has on our oral health!
So I created this platform to educate and inspire my patients on how eating healthy can be fun, tasty, varied, satisfying and have a positive impact on our general and oral health. My lifestyle a few years ago was not particularly healthy. All the processed foods and refined sugars took its toll on my weight, energy, mood, and skin. When I cut out the fad diets and processed foods I noticed massive improvements in my overall health.
Can you tell us why your love for food is infinite and how did this passion start?
I am a huge Foodie, but also very fussy at the same time. Every meal needs to be delicious. I don’t eat salads for lunch, as to me that isn’t satisfying. I believe in good healthy lifestyle choices. My mother has always been my inspiration. She has instilled good habits in all of us! From a young age, she has managed to make healthy food so full of flavour, which made me fall in love with healthy food.
What are the common misconceptions related to oral health?
Ah! This is such an amazing question. We all treat our teeth like windows; the better we clean them from the outside the healthier they will be. Of course, that is true, but oral health goes way beyond that. Our teeth and gums are alive and need nourishment from the inside as well as keeping them clean from the outside. If we aren’t getting those essential vitamins and minerals our teeth, gums and bone will not be as strong as they should be. Spending a lot of money on fancy toothbrushes is great but educating patients on nutrition is equally as important
Can you explain how diet and nutrition not only affects our skin and health, but oral health also?
I love these questions; I could probably talk for days about this!
Tooth decay and gum disease are so common, but we see them as normal. There should really be alarm bells ringing when either of those is flagged up or even when you need that dreaded filling!
Your tooth is the hardest part of your body, harder than bone. And if that is decaying and rotting that could be saying something about how the rest of your body is doing. The mouth is an extremely good indicator of our general health. Eating healthily feeds our good bacteria in the mouth and provides key vitamins & minerals, which resonates through the body, to our gut and digestive system.
The Foodie Dentist was created to inspire and educate us about the importance of healthy eating and the effects it has on our oral health and development. How are you currently promoting this?
At the moment I promote The Foodie Dentist through social media. I absolutely love it. It’s an incredible way to connect with like-minded people. I want to show not only my patients but also my followers, that leading a healthy lifestyle is far from boring and that eating healthy is tasty, varied, colourful and fun. I hope I achieve this through my recipes; my sweet potato brownies and wholemeal cookies are everybody’s favourites!
What other tools are you using to raise awareness of oral health?
My Instagram is my main focus at the moment, I’m working hard to ensure my pictures are great and the food tastes even better! I’ve got a lot of exciting events coming up; giving some great talks so keep posted for them!
How has the journey been since launching The Foodie Dentist?
It has been incredible! I love every second of it. I have got incredible feedback from my patients and my followers. I think what I do is a little different because I don’t make healthy eating boring at all. You will never find just a salad recipe on my Instagram. I want every meal to be tasty and satisfying. That way it becomes easier to lead a healthier lifestyle. My recipes include pasta, pizza, burgers, cookies, brownies and so on. Obviously with a healthy spin on it!
Have you had any mentors? If so can you tell us if it has helped in any way?
I have to say my biggest mentor is probably my mum. She encouraged me to eat well at a young age and she made nutrition so interesting for me. My parents are my rock; they are my biggest support and have been there for me since Day 1. Without them, I wouldn’t have the courage to start The Foodie Dentist!
You are currently at the NHS as a General Dental Practitioner; can you tell us a real seminal moment for you in your career?
A few months ago a lady visited my practice with gum disease. She had been through multiple bouts of treatment from different dentists and nothing seemed to be helping her! After a long chat with her, I found her diet wasn’t great; she ate a lot of white carbs, not many vegetables and barely had any fibre in her diet. Alongside brushing I advised her to make some dietary changes. I wrote recipe plans for her and directed to my Instagram for some inspiration. She seemed so keen and was really grateful for the advice, no dentist previously had discussed diet with her, all they seemed to do was emphasise brushing.
3 months later she came back to see me for a review appointment, and her gum disease had improved dramatically! She was over the moon and was so grateful for all the nutritional advice. That was such a rewarding moment for me in my career!
What areas are you looking at to continue the growth of The Foodie Dentist?
I just hope to create more awareness! I absolutely love my career, being a dentist is so fulfilling for me. But I feel that there is lack of awareness how important nutrition is for our oral health. I really hope to achieve this through my social media platform and educating my patients.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
My dad said to me to enjoy the journey and not to worry about the end goal. That really stuck with me for some reason. I started The Foodie Dentist purely with a passion to educate my patients how to eat healthier and I absolutely love what I do. I dedicate a lot of time to my page, making sure my recipes and pictures are great and I’m just so happy I’m getting the message out there and it’s making a difference to my patients.
Any setbacks you have come across so far?
I have had many failed recipes. I only post my best recipes, which have been trialed and tested by a lot of my family and friends. Coming up with new, delicious recipes isn’t so easy but I seem to be getting the hang of it! I want to make them perfect before I post anything.
Have you at any point throughout your career trajectory had self-doubt?
I found my dental course quite challenging. 5 years to study is a long time! To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about dentistry as a career in the early days but learning about the power of nutrition in oral health has me gripped! I love sharing this with my patients too, not only fix their dental problems but aim to improve their overall wellbeing too.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I just want to try to get the message out there more. A lot of my patients say not many dentists give them nutritional advice and I’m just so happy I can influence a patient’s lifestyle rather than just fixing their teeth.
Any tips for us to maintain great oral health?
Yes, I have so many! But my 3 top tips I give to all my patients are:
1. Cut down on the refined sugars. If you feel like something sweet, try to make your own dessert at home using natural sugars- raw honey/pure maple syrup/coconut sugar. I have a lot of recipes on my Instagram.
2. Swap the white carbs for the brown ones. This ensures you are getting more fibre into your diet, which will feed the good bacteria.
3. Eat a rainbow. Not only eating greens are important! But eating reds, oranges, yellows, purples. This ensures you are eating a variety of fruits & veggies and is the easiest way to get a range of vitamins and minerals into your diet.
Lastly, what does it mean to you to truly #BEYOUROWN?
Be passionate about whatever you do and give it 100%. Don’t be afraid to be different and ignore the hate comments! Filter out negative energy and stay true to what you believe in. Be your own absolute best version of yourself! Love this hashtag!
Twitter: @Foodie_Dentist | Instagram: @thefoodie_dentist