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11 Holiday Food and Safety Tips

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES November 19, 2018Pearls of Wisdom Blog
  1. Celebrate within your safety zone. Know what you can and cannot tolerate, such as foods, beverages, cooking methods or level of spice. Share your limits with people preparing foods so they can accommodate your needs. For example, a fried turkey may sound tasty, but it may not digest well due to frying. Suggest roasting a turkey instead.
  2. Be diligent about the 2-hour rule. Refrigerate foods within two hours of serving to prevent potential illness. This especially applies to foods set out for a buffet. If the party will last longer than two hours, replace food dishes at the two hour mark with fresh foods from the refrigerator and heated to a safe temperature.
  3. Be prepared. Make or buy the foods you can tolerate and enjoy and bring them to events. Others may appreciate the additional options, too.
  4. Follow food safety guidelines. If you are preparing food, give yourself plenty of time to do so within food safety guidelines. For example, heat leftovers to 165°F. Use leftover meat within 3 to 4 days. Learn more about food safety here.
  5. Be cautious about eating shared food. Ask to serve yourself first at the food or refreshments line. Avoid foods such as dips or sauces from which many people may have eaten.
  6. Be careful about trying new foods. You don’t know how your body will respond to a new food. You don’t have to taste everything at the party. Your host will understand.
  7. Ask about alcohol. Talk with your doctor about alcohol before special events. Is it safe for you to consume alcohol? If so, how much? If alcohol is off the table for you, use sparkling juices or water and sodas with a slice of lime or cherries to create a festive drink.
  8. Create a new holiday tradition. To allow for your food restrictions or lower energy levels, think of a new way of doing things this holiday season. Keep it simple. For example, instead of hosting dinner at your home, ask a loved one to host it instead it. Remember to enjoy spending time with loved ones instead of worrying about fancy decorations and complicated menus.
  9. Be travel savvy. Wash your hands often. Pack portable snacks and beverages in an insulated cooler with ice. Wear comfortable clothes. Avoid tight-fitting garments and belts to allow for easier digestion.
  10. Just say no. If you are invited to an event where you think less-than-healthy food choices and people with those pesky winter sniffles are likely to be present, politely decline the invitation. If you are immunosuppressed from treatment, it’s especially important to avoid other people who may be sick.
  11. Relax. Plan down-time where you can rejuvenate and rest amid the hustle of the holidays. Rest can lead to lower stress levels which also supports more efficient digestion.



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Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Author Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

Nutrition Educator Margaret Martin is a Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist in the State of Tennessee as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator. Margaret graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science & Public Health from the University of Tennessee. With more than 10 years of experience in Clinical Nutrition, Margaret has also worked in the insurance industry with WellPoint Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield providing telephonic nutrition consultations, service assistance, and web-based nutrition education. In her free time Margaret volunteers with the American Lung Association’s annual “Lung Force Walk" in Middle Tennessee. She belongs to the Oncology Nutrition & Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Groups of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More posts by Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDCES

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