Tips for Keeping the Holidays Healthy

Melissa Feltmann | Healthier Somerset Project Manager
November 27, 2018

The holiday season is upon us. With all the hustle and bustle that comes with the joy of the season, it is easy to forget about maintain healthy activities. Members of Healthier Somerset offer the following tips to help keep you and your family healthy this holiday season.

  • The Somerset County Department of Health recommends everyone should wash their hands often for 20 seconds. Recent, U.S. Department of Agriculture research found that participants failed to wash their hands properly 97 percent of the time when cooking. Without proper handwashing, well-intentioned cooks, servers and guests can quickly spread bacteria around your meal. Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling raw turkey, especially when seasoning the bird.
  • Bundle up for warmth if you’re going outside and be aware of signs that your body isn’t handling the cold well, such as stiffness in the neck, arms, and legs. Your immune system, skin, balance, and heart may be at risk.
  • Get a flu shot if you haven’t gotten one already. The best way to protect against influenza is to get a flu vaccine every flu season. Share the love, not the germs!
  • Fasten seat belts. Always use them, no matter how short the trip.
  • Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let others drink and drive.
  • To keep in mind the needs of your guests, when cooking for a large group,
  • Some of your guests may have food allergies or dietary restrictions; some may be at higher risk for food-borne illness because they may be transplant recipients, cancer patients or diabetics. Pregnant women and seniors are also at higher risk.
  • Although the holiday season is filled with lots of love and fun; it can also be a pretty expensive and stressful time of the year. It’s important to practice self-care and find fun, free activities that you can do with your family.

The Somerset County YMCA staff nutritionist, Susan Greeley, MS RDN suggests healthy food tips that will make you feel less guilty about indulging during the holidays:

  • Do not starve before the meals. Eat a good breakfast to ensure the cooks have energy and may prevent some low-blood-sugar-induced family feuds!
  • Take a break for air. The meal will taste even better after getting fresh air and the blood circulating. While the turkey’s cooking, go for a walk, play a game of flag football. You can even run some races in the yard or around the house with the kids.

Consider the following when choosing holiday food options:

  • Nuts – Mixed nuts make a great snack, especially for all the football watchers during the holidays. Go for raw, dry-roasted or reduced salt versions.
  • Red wine – Relax and enjoy a glass. You’ll be sipping some good-for-your-heart polyphenols.
  • Sweet potatoes – They’re full fiber, vitamins, minerals and have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes.
  • Cornbread – The homemade version is a whole grain bread that’s better for you than regular white flour dinner rolls.
  • Pumpkin pie – If you need to justify this favorite, think beta carotene!

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset advises everyone to remember that it is important to take time for yourself during this busy season to:

  • Exercise
  • Maintain healthy eating habits by increasing water intake and limiting sugar drinks and alcohol
  • Manage stress
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep every night.

For more information, visit

Melissa Feltmann is the project manager for Healthier Somerset.

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