A thanksgiving feast. Learn how not to get sick after thanksgiving dinner.

November is the month we spend weeks anticipating grandma’s homemade rolls and perfectly baked pumpkin pies. There’s often a lot of planning that goes into the creation of a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner. While how things look and taste is often our top priority, preparing a dinner that won’t make our guests sick should be out number one goal. Here’s what you need to do to avoid getting sick, or making other’s sick from Thanksgiving dinner!

Practice Safe Food Handling For Thanksgiving Dinner

Yes, it all starts with how you prepare the food! What you do as you cook can make the difference between enjoying a nice post turkey nap, or spending the evening on your porcelain throne.

Here are a few crucial things to be aware of:

Thaw Your Turkey Safely

When thawing a turkey, it’s essential to prevent bacterial growth. The safest methods are in the refrigerator or the cold water method. To thaw in the refrigerator, place the turkey on a tray to catch any potential drips, and allow approximately 24 hours of thawing time for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.

For the cold water method, submerge your turkey in its original packaging in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes per pound for this method.

Cook To The Proper Temperature

To ensure that your turkey is safe to eat, it should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (73.9°C) at the thickest part. Use a food thermometer inserted into the thigh without touching the bone.

Note: It’s important to check the temperature in multiple places to guarantee thorough cooking.

Prevent cross-contamination

Cross-Contamination Is The Cause of Many Foodborn illnesses. Be aware of steps you can take to avoid contaminating your food.

  • Keep raw poultry separate from other foods, both in the refrigerator and during food preparation.
  • Use different cutting boards for raw poultry and vegetables.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling raw poultry and before touching other foods.
  • Utensils and surfaces that come into contact with raw poultry should be washed and sanitized frequently.

Refrigerate promptly

After your feast, leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of serving. Divide large quantities into smaller containers to help them cool faster. Proper refrigeration can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Leftovers can be safely kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen for longer storage.

Embrace Healthy Cooking Techniques

Sometimes people feel sick after Thanksgiving because they have over loaded themselves on unhealthy foods. (Jello and whipped cream does not a salad make!)

Opting for healthier cooking methods not only reduces the fat content in your Thanksgiving dishes but also makes them more nutritious.

Consider Using Some of The Following Techniques:

  • Roasting: Roasting the turkey and vegetables is a healthy and flavorful cooking method. (Use a roasting rack to allow excess fat to drip away from the turkey.)
  • Grilling: Grilled turkey or turkey pieces can be a healthy and tasty alternative. Marinate the meat with herbs, spices, and a small amount of olive oil for added flavor.
  • Steaming: Steaming vegetables is an excellent way to retain their nutrients and reduce the need for added fats. You can also steam sweet potatoes or other root vegetables and then mash them with a touch of olive oil and herbs for a healthy side dish.
  • Using Herbs and Spices: Incorporate a variety of herbs and spices like rosemary, thyme, garlic, and ginger to season your dishes. These can enhance the flavor without adding excessive butter or salt.
A woman washes her hands

Prioritize Hand Hygiene

Frequent hand washing is essential for preventing the spread of germs, especially when dealing with food!

Be sure to:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before handling food. This also means vigorously scrubbing, not just holding your hands under the water.
  • Wash hands again after handling raw poultry or any other raw ingredients.
  • Use hand sanitizers if soap and water are not readily available, but it’s always best to wash hands when possible.

Practice Portion Control

Thanksgiving is called a feast for good reason! The dinner often features multiple dishes and large portions. The abundance of food can lead to overeating and, in turn, cause stomach distress in its aftermath. Practicing portion control can help you savor the flavors without feeling overly stuffed and ill.

Here are some steps you can take to prevent after dinner regrets:

Mindful Plate Planning

When dishing out your meal, start with smaller portions of each item. Use a smaller plate to help control portion sizes naturally.

Balanced Eating

Consider filling half your plate with vegetables, one-quarter with lean proteins, and the remaining one-quarter with starches. (This means the candied yams shouldn’t be your main course!)

Avoid Going for Seconds (Immediately)

It’s easy to be tempted by the delicious dishes and opt for seconds right away. However, take a pause after your first helping. Give yourself time to assess whether you’re genuinely hungry for more or just eating out of habit. If you do decide to take seconds, choose smaller portions.

Savor Every Bite

Slow down and savor each bite. This not only helps you enjoy the meal more but also gives your body time to register that it’s full. Enjoy the conversation and the company around you to make the meal more about the experience than the quantity of food. After all, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is connecting with family.

If You Must Have More, wait for leftovers

Save some room for later. This way, you can enjoy the feast over the course of several days, rather than overindulging in one sitting.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to your body’s signals. When you start feeling satisfied, stop eating. It’s important not to confuse fullness with the urge to finish every last bite.

Final Thoughts

Follow these tips and you’ll set yourself up for a fantastic dinner without unpleasant after effects. After all, being healthy is something to be grateful for!

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