‘Tis the season to be jolly — late November thru January —from the big
turkey dinner on Thanksgiving to the brunch that opens the new year…with
holiday parties at the office and celebrations with family and friends in
between, that’s a lot of eating and drinking.
Marianne Ritchie, MD
Though this year’s restrictions will lead to smaller gatherings, it’s still
a good time to discuss tips for safe eating and drinking during the
Our most recent guest on “Your Radio Doctor” was Registered Dietician and
Director of Clinical Dietetics for Jefferson Gastroenterology and
Hepatology Emily Rubin, who offered listeners some great suggestions.
Listen to the podcast on www.yourradiodoctor.net
Our first topic was the safe handling of food. According to the Center for
Disease Control (CDC), it doesn’t appear that COVID-19 is passed by
handling or eating food, but we should still adhere to the guidelines:
Limit contact with people outside your home
Wear a mask
Wash your hands for twenty seconds often, especially before eating
And even if COVID-19 weren’t an issue, avoid sharing eating utensils, cups,
drinking glasses—even with your nuclear family.
Now let’s “talk turkey.” Here are suggestions to prevent you and your
guests from contracting Salmonella food poisoning:
Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator in a container or using a sealed
bag in a sink of cold water (change water every 30 minutes).
NEVER thaw by leaving it on the counter—room temperature for longer than
two hours is unsafe.
Wash your hands with soap/water for 20 seconds BEFORE and AFTER handling
Do NOT wash raw turkey (chicken). Juices might contaminate the counter,
sink, and other foods. Also, use a separate cutting board.
Cook stuffing in a separate dish. Check for 165° F in the center of the
stuffing and a deep part of the bird (breast, thigh, wing). Do NOT depend
on the POP-UP thermometer.
Roasts, chops, fresh ham – should rest for 3 minutes after removal from
oven/grill so they can continue to cook.
LEFT-OVERS; Bacteria grow in cooked foods sitting at room temperature,
most often in November and December. Refrigerate at 40° F or colder ASAP or
within two hours of preparation. REHEAT all left-overs to 165° F before
Do NOT eat raw dough or batter (cookies, cake, pie, pizza). Most people
know that raw eggs in batter can lead to Salmonella food poisoning, but
uncooked flour can also be an issue. E. coli is a bacterium that
can cause very serious illness, especially in young children. If you decide
to make “edible” cookie dough, be sure you find a recipe that includes
directions for heat-treating the flour before you use it.
WASH your hands – before, during, and after preparing food; before you
eat and definitely after using the bathroom!
What about watching the scale? The average weight gain over the holidays is
only about 1-2 pounds, but if you retain it and gain the same 1-2 pounds
each year, it can accumulate. For starters, do NOT try to diet during this
The magic word is PORTION. It’s usually not what you eat, but how much. Think of it this way. The average calorie count for a
Thanksgiving dinner can be as high as 3500 calories with 200 grams of fat
at one sitting! 3500 calories = one pound of weight gain.
Here are some helpful suggestions:
Don’t starve/fast all day. Eat a small breakfast and lunch that include
protein and fiber; salad, fruit/cottage cheese, nuts, yogurt
Save carbs for dinner.
Eat one favorite food and save the rest for left-overs.
Eat slowly – It takes 20 minutes to feel full. Take a bite, then chat
Think about your choices:
Dark turkey/gravy has almost twice the calories of turkey breast or ham
Choose stuffing. You can eat potatoes on other occasions. Or have both,
in smaller amounts
Holiday drinks — calories: light beer (90-100); regular beer (up to
230); wine (150); rum/coke (220); egg nog (343)
Evaporated skim milk (not cream) and whip it for sauces, casseroles,
Cookies, cakes, breads – apple sauce or pureed fruit instead of oil.
When it comes to drinking, remember the word “moderation.”
Drink water between alcoholic beverages to stay hydrated and to slow
Use low calorie mixers (tonic, diet soda); low fat milk in egg nog.
Remember that most beers and flavored vodka contain gluten.
If you’re the host, offer non-alcoholic beverages.
Have a designated driver
Choose your number of drinks ahead of time and stick to it.
Remember the reason we’re celebrating – the people!! Don’t become a
drunk driving statistic.
Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all. We can’t
celebrate with our extended families as we usually do, but let’s hope we
can all be together sometime soon in the new year. Try to reach out to
someone who has had COVID-19 or has suffered the loss a loved one or a job.
Tune in every week to “Your Radio Doctor” on WPHT, talk radio 1210 when
more great guests will bring you the information you need to stay healthy,
and always remember that “YOUR HEALTH is YOUR WEALTH.”
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