Have a Healthy Holiday
November 14, 2017
Friends, family, football, and delicious food – all things people want to enjoy during the holiday season. Maintaining healthy habits and keeping food safe during a season where food is around every corner can be difficult, but not impossible. With balance and moderation, and by following a few simple food safety rules, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy and safe way.
The following tips can help you make healthy food choices and limit tempting, high-calorie foods during the holidays to make sure that the turkey is the only one that ends up stuffed this season.
One easy way to cut calories on your favorite holiday dishes is to swap out the normal ingredient for a healthier one. Most of the time you can’t even taste a difference. Below are some swaps to try.
You can also make slight alterations in your favorite dishes to make them healthier.
Some other useful strategies to limit food intake during the holidays include:
Another thing to keep in mind is food safety. Foodborne illness can definitely ruin holiday cheer. Foodborne illness is a common and costly, yet preventable, public health problem. Each year, about one in six Americans gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Most of these diseases are infections - caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites spread through food. Symptoms may occur within minutes or take up to weeks and often present with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. Immune systems in people vary, and some people may become ill after ingesting just a few harmful bacteria while others may ingest thousands before they feel the unpleasant effects.
Most foodborne illnesses can be prevented with proper cooking or processing to destroy harmful pathogens. You have the power to fight foodborne illness and keep food safe by following these four simple steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Clean: Make sure you keep your cooking area clean, and wash hands and surfaces often. Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food. After cutting raw meats, wash the cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water before preparing other foods.
Separate: Separate your cooked and ready-to-eat foods from raw food in order to avoid cross contamination. Germs in raw meat and their juices can be easily spread to other foods by juices dripping from packages, hands, or utensils. Never use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat. Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters. Also, make sure to keep raw meat securely wrapped. This keeps their juices from mixing with prepared/cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables.
Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure your foods are cooked to the proper temperature. Be sure to clean the thermometer between uses. Cooking foods to the correct internal temperature can destroy harmful bacteria.
After cooking meat and poultry, keep it at 140°F or warmer until served. When reheating fully-cooked meats, make sure the food reaches 165°F or is reheated to steaming hot. These foods should not sit out for more than two hours. If food is left out longer, throw it away to be safe.
Chill: Chill foods that are not being eaten and leftovers quickly to 41°F or below to avoid bacteria growth. Leave any foods that are supposed to be cold in the refrigerator until you are ready to leave, and then place them in the cooler for travel right before you go. Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than two hours. Store cold foods in the refrigerator (41°F or below) or the freezer (0°F or below).
Keep up normal routines as much as possible during the season and don’t let a couple unhealthy meals throw off your entire diet. Stay as active as possible to help balance out the extra food. If you have a suspected case of foodborne illness, there are a couple of important steps to follow. Seek treatment as necessary. Contact your local health department as soon as possible; this is especially important if the food was consumed at a large gathering, restaurant, or from another food service establishment. For further information on foodborne illness prevention, contact the Independence Health Department at 816-325-7803 or visit http://www.cdc.gov/Features/BeFoodSafe/.