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Healthy Holiday Eating

A harvest feast with turkey, vegetables & asparagus

Holiday season is approaching – a time filled with food, family, friends and more food. Here are some ways to stay healthy and safe amidst all that food:

Healthy holiday food choices

  • Enjoy in moderation. You don’t have to miss out. Plan beforehand to navigate holiday gatherings by eating a healthy but filling snack ahead so you can resist gorging on all the temptations. Check out all the options before diving in and budget wisely by choosing items special to you and this time of year. Take small portions, eat slowly, and don’t stand by the food table. Take a break, walk around, and drink some water before thinking about seconds.
  • Keep merry with colorful choices. Fruits and vegetables will add color, flavor and nutrients to your holiday feasts.
  • Swap and substitute ingredients in traditional holiday favorites. Avoid excess fat, calories, sugar and sodium with some easy substitutions in your recipes. Show your family and friends how much you really care about them and their health by choosing options with less butter, cream, lard and sugar.
  • Don’t forget your walking/dancing shoes. Sprinkle in as much activity as you can in between and during these eating events.
  • See the Holiday Healthy Eating guide from the American Heart Association for more information.

For additional information, please contact the WIC program at 1 (888) 968-7942 or 1 (888) YOUR WIC.

Simple tips to keep your food safe for holiday gatherings and to avoid food poisoning

  • Wash your hands. Be sure to wash your hands often, especially before, during and after preparing food. Other key times to wash your hands are before eating food; after using the toilet, changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet; after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste; and after touching garbage. See When & How to Wash Your Hands for all recommendations.
  • Cook food thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to make sure foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and eggs are cooked inside to the safe minimum temperature. Food prepared or rewarmed in the microwave should be heated to a temperature of at least 165° F.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Bacteria can grow rapidly at room temperature, while in the “danger zone” (40° F -140° F). Hot food should be kept at or above 140° F. Otherwise, food should be refrigerated within 2 hours and kept at or below 40° F.
  • Don’t cross contaminate. Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods while transporting, storing in your fridge, and preparing. Be smart; keep foods apart.
  • Safely thaw your turkey. Turkeys should be thawed in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in the microwave. Don’t thaw food on the counter, as harmful germs can grow rapidly at room temperature.
  • Avoid raw eggs, including raw dough or batter. Use pasteurized eggs for dishes needing raw eggs such as eggnog, tiramisu, or Caesar dressing, or be sure to cook the eggs, egg dishes or dough (e.g., cookie, cake, pie and so on) prior to eating or tasting.
  • See Food Safety Tips for the Holidays for more details and safe practices.

Pregnant?

Pregnant women are at increased risk of getting sick from food poisoning, especially with a deadly bacteria called Listeria. In addition to following the above safety tips, pregnant women should also avoid raw or unpasteurized milk and milk products, such as soft cheese, hot dogs or lunch meats, refrigerated pâté, meat spreads, or smoked seafood (unless in a cooked dish), and raw or unpasteurized juice and cider. Finally, avoid any drinks, holiday punches or eggnogs that may contain alcohol as that can affect your baby’s growth and development. See Food Safety for Baby for more info.

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