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franklin county times

From the Extension: A few food tips for healthy, happy holidays

According to eatright.org, Americans gain about one to two pounds during the holidays. While this doesn’t sound dramatic, research shows it adds up over the years. Luckily, there are ways to avoid holiday weight gain.

Tip 1: Don’t skip meals.

Saving your appetite for a big holiday party or feast? Don’t. Skipping meals during the day can result in overeating. It is especially important to have breakfast, as research shows that those who eat this important morning meal tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day. Include lots of fiber by eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber-rich foods are high in volume and will satisfy hunger but are lower in calories.

Tip 2: Eat small portions.

Holiday meals tend to be large, buffet-style and include second and third helpings. A common mistake is eating large portions of foods that are perceived as healthy. It’s important to include nutrient-rich foods in your diet, but remember these foods have calories as well and should be eaten in moderation. Using this approach at the holiday dinner table will allow you to maintain a healthful eating plan – one that can still include dessert.

Tip 3: Pick a strategy to avoid overeating.

There are many strategies to help you avoid overeating. Using a smaller plate, for instance, allows you to put less food on your plate and encourages proper portion sizes. Also, start by filling your plate with vegetables and salad before going to the entrees and desserts. Eating a salad before your meal can help you eat fewer calories overall. Eat slowly and savor every bite, and before you go back for seconds, wait 10 minutes to see if you really are still hungry.

Tip 4: Keep moving.

After dinner, get some physical activity. This is a great time to go for a walk and catch up with family members or play catch or a game of basketball with the kids.

Tip 5: Visit with a registered dietitian nutritionist.

Need help figuring out how to politely refuse Aunt Sally’s push to fill your plate again? How about ways to stick with your personal lifestyle goals? For more information on eating well, contact a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area.

Mailing holiday treats

Many people enjoy cooking foods that are family favorites and mailing these items to family and friends. The same rules that cover the mail order industry also apply to foods prepared and mailed from home.

When mailing your favorites holiday foods, follow these recommendations from the USDA.

First off, make sure perishable foods are not held at temperatures between 40-140 degrees, the “danger zone,” for longer than two hours. Pathogenic bacteria can grow rapidly in the danger zone but might not affect the taste, smell or appearance of a food. In other words, you cannot tell a food has been mishandled or is unsafe to eat.

For perishable foods prepared at home and mailed, follow these guidelines:

  • Ship in a sturdy box.
  • Pack with a cold source, like frozen gel packs or dry ice. When using dry ice, don’t touch the dry ice with bare hands, don’t let it come in direct contact with the food and warn the recipient of its use by writing “Contains Dry Ice” on the outside of the box.
  • Wrap box in two layers of brown paper.
  • Use permanent markers to label outside of the box.
  • Use recommended packing tape.
  • Label outside clearly; make sure the address is complete and correct.
  • Write “Keep Refrigerated” on outside of the box.
  • Alert recipient of its expected arrival.
  • Do not send to business addresses or where there will not be adequate refrigerator storage.
  • Do not send packages at the end of the week. Send them at the beginning of the week so they do not sit in the post office or mailing facility over the weekend.
  • Whenever possible, send foods that do not require refrigeration, like hard salami, hard cheese or country ham.