Don’t forget about the simplest, cheapest way to keep from spreading germs this season: hand-washing.
Skin-to-skin contact is the most common way that people give germs to each other. Washing off the germs protects you and those around you.
A healthy diet that contains plenty of vitamin C (citrus fruits are an excellent source) is another important factor in the fight against colds and flu. And if your indoor heating system dries out the air, consider using a humidifier. Dry sinuses are more vulnerable to the viruses that cause colds.
Keeping Meat Safe
The recent recall of 27 million pounds of poultry meats due to listeria contamination, and an outbreak of listeriosis, which killed 20 people last summer, may have you wondering what you can do to protect yourself and your family from unsafe meat products.
Listeria is a bacterium found in food. It can cause the disease called listeriosis, which primarily affects pregnant women, newborns and people with weakened immune systems (diabetes, cancer, kidney disease and AIDS are examples of conditions that can weaken the immune system). You can find the bacterium in uncooked meats and vegetables, processed foods like soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk and cold cuts from the deli counter.
There are listeria testing procedures and safety precautions in place at manufacturing plants, but sometimes the bacterium goes undetected anyway. Your best bet is to cook raw meats thoroughly, wash raw vegetables well and avoid unpasteurized foods. If you’re in the higher risk group, you may want to avoid soft cheeses as well. And if you eat hot dogs or deli meats, heat them until they’re steaming.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 2002.
Frying a Turkey this Season?
Fried turkey has become more and more popular, but you should know that using a turkey fryer can be dangerous. Some fryers tip over easily, causing hot oil to spill. And lack of thermostat controls can cause the oil to become too hot and combust.
If you decide to use a turkey fryer anyway, be sure to follow these precautions:
- Use the fryer outside only, away from wooden decks and other material that can burn.
- Keep the fryer on an even surface.
- Keep your eye on the fryer at all times.
- Make sure the turkey is completely thawed. If it’s not, melting water can cause the oil to spill over. (Refrigerator thawing is the safe way to go. Count on 24 hours for every five pounds of bird.)
Source: Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., October 2002.
Healthy Comfort Foods
Is there a way to get the comforting taste of comfort foods without the fat and calories? Yes, if you’re willing to compromise a little. The key is to try to minimize the fat content and keep your portions reasonable. Some tips:
- Use skim or low-fat milk instead of whole.
- Use vegetable oil cooking spray when greasing a pan.
- Separate the fat from soup stocks and pan juices by using a fat-separating measuring cup.
- Remove visible fat from meats.
A quick example: instead of frying chicken, try soaking the chicken (after removing the skin) in skim milk, dip in dry breadcrumbs and herbs and bake in the oven.
Source: J. Brody. Jane Brody’s Good Food Book., October 2002.
Healthy Eating at Parties
Keep these ideas in mind as you make your rounds at holiday gatherings.
- Don’t arrive hungry. You’ll be more likely to eat everything in sight.
- Take your favorite healthy dish along as your contribution to the party.
- Avoid eggnog. An 8-ounce glass, with rum, has 450 calories.
- Think twice before popping an appetizer in your mouth. These little bites are gone in an instant, but they’re often high in fat and calories.
- If baking cookies is something you don’t want to give up, bake them and then get them out of the house—take them to a party.
- Find someone else at the party who’s also trying to avoid eating too much. Peer support can be a helpful motivator.