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Memorial dietitians offer advice to keep you safe and healthy this holiday season

​At long last, the holidays are here. And we’re all ready to celebrate with turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, desserts and many other delicious treats.

But it’s important to keep your health and safety in mind as you navigate the holiday season. Dietitians from Memorial Hospital recently discussed their best tips to responsibly celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and other holidays this year.

  1. Avoid food sickness

If your turkey is between 12-14 pounds, thaw the frozen bird for 3 days in the refrigerator or 6-8 hours in cold tap water. Be sure to change the water every 30 minutes, and don’t risk spreading food-borne illnesses by washing raw turkey.

Additionally, be sure the turkey is cooked to 165 degrees. Use a clean food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat.

-Gail Gronek Weismann, RD, LD

  1. Be sure to eat breakfast and drink water

Don’t skip a meal in preparation for a bigger dinner and remember to stay hydrated so you don’t confuse thirst for hunger.

-Sophiya Maskey, MS, RDN, LD

  1. Try something new

Challenge yourself or the cook of the family to try a healthier recipe. Recipes can be found on our Mayo Clinic Health Information Library:

-Kennedy Meyer, RD, LD

  1. Keep salt in mind

Limit or avoid added salt during the cooking process. Your guests can then season to their taste and needs at the table.

-Cassie Maxwell RD, LD, BS

  1. Trick your brain

To avoid overeating during big holiday meals, try controlling portion sizes​ by using a smaller sized plate.

-August N. Corso, Dietetic intern

  1. Eat strategically

Have vegetables for seconds, they are high in fiber and helps to keep you full so that you don’t overeat.

-Carla McMaster, RDN, LD

  1. Chat away from the food

At your holiday get-togethers, try to avoid socializing near where food is being served. This will help to minimize mindless eating.

-Kaley King, RD, LD

  1. Don’t worry

The holiday only comes once a year — and if you usually eat a healthy diet, this is a good day to savor a little bit of that small piece of dessert or extra portion of carb heavy food. Enjoy the day and be grateful for all the delicious food and time spent with family and friends.

-Renee Jachura, MS, RD, CNSC, LD

  1. Store your leftovers safely

If you have leftovers, refrigerate them at 40 degrees or lower within 2 hours to prevent bacteria from growing.

-Gail Gronek Weismann, RD, LD