The main goal for the holidays is to enjoy friends, family and all the wonderful foods of the holiday season. It is possible to enjoy the holidays and stay safe, happy, and healthy. On average, an American can gain approximately 1-2 pounds during the holiday season. While this weight gain is not dramatic, research shows that this can stick and accumulate over the years. In addition, it is important to keep food safe to avoid foodborne illness!
Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain:
- Do not skip meals throughout the day as this can result in overeating later. Eat balanced meals that are high in fibers such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- At the party, use a smaller plate. First, fill your plate with vegetables and salads. Research shows that eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall.
- After your first plate, then serve yourself main entrees and dessert foods. Wait 10 minutes before your second plate so you can serve yourself mindfully.
- Eat slowly and savor every bite.
- Allow yourself to try all the foods you wish, but be mindful of portion sizes.
Keeping FOOD SAFE so everyone feels good while celebrating:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before, during and after you prepare food. Be sure to wash your hands when you change jobs, such as in between handling raw eggs and cutting fruit.
- Keep kitchen surfaces (including appliances, countertops, cutting boards and utensils) clean during meal prep by using hot, soapy water to wipe them down.
- Use separate cutting boards. Use one for raw meat, poultry and fish and another for ready-to-eat foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Never defrost foods at room temperature, on the counter or in warm water. Defrost only in the refrigerator or in the microwave. If defrosting in the microwave, you must cook food immediately.
- Don’t use the same spoon to stir, taste, and serve food.
- Use a food thermometer to make sure your food is cooked to proper temperatures (see chart).
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Keep hot food hot: at or above 140 °F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays, and/or slow cookers.
- Keep cold food cold: at or below 40 °F. Place food in containers on ice.
- Do not leave food at room temperature for over 2 hours.
- Bacteria grow most rapidly in the “danger zone” – this is a range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F.
- When baking, avoid eating foods containing raw eggs such as cookie dough or cake batter. Raw eggs may contain harmful bacteria.