Healthy Holiday Tips

LAST UPDATED: July 17, 2023
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​​​​Staying Healthy over the Holidays

The holiday season kicks off lots of food and temptations with parties and social events.  Not to mention colder weather, many social expectations and limited time. Planning ahead will help to keep your healthy routines on track. 

Sleep. Keep your normal bedtime to ensure 7-8 hours of sleep to be energized for the rest of the weekend.

Activity. Try to keep your workout routine on track as much as possible. Try to protect the time, but if your day gets crazy, try to break up the workout into smaller sessions. For your Thanksgiving Day start your day with physical activity.  Is there a local turkey trot or a jingle bell jog you can participate with your family? Or, go outside and play outside games before the big meal.  After ​dinner get your immediate family to go on a walk around the neighborhood. Try to maintain your activity regimen during the holidays.


  • Order your groceries on-line with pick-up and delivery service.
  • Eat breakfast so you are not starving before the big meal.
  • Remember to hydrate and drink water or a calorie free beverage throughout the day. 
  • Add a new healthy, creative recipe to the menu along with the traditional favorites.
  • Build a healthy plate for the holiday meal with half of the plate with vegetables.
  • Try winter fruits and vegetables in new recipes.  Try incorporating winter squash, sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower into different dishes.
  • Winter fruits in season are grapefruit, kiwifruit, kumquats, mandarin oranges, oranges, persimmons and pomelos. Try a mixed fruit salad.
  • Select plain vegetables instead of casserole-type dishes.
  • Don't add extra butter or gravy.
  • Go easy on the alcohol.
  • Choose small portions, savor every bite and try to eat slowly.
  • You don't have to clean your plate!

Don't Forget about Food Safety Before, During, and After the Holiday Meal

Food safety is an important part of healthy nutrition, so here are some food safety tips for holiday turkey and leftovers.1

1. Thaw Your Turkey Safely. Ideally thaw in the refrigerator in a container over a few days.  Thawing under refrigeration will take at least 3-5 days.  Other options could be in a in a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water.  Keep the turkey in its original, unopened packaging and change the water every 30 minutes.  A maximum (cumulative) thawing time should not exceed 2 hours if using the sink method.  Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter.

2. Handle Your Turkey the Right Way. Follow the four steps to food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill—to prevent the spread of bacteria to your food, family, and friends.  Do not "wash" your turkey prior to preparation.  Rinsing the bird does not remove any bacteria and the splashing water may result in contamination of the sink and adjacent counters.

3. Cook Stuffing Thoroughly. Cooking stuffing separately from the turkey in a casserole dish makes it easy to be sure it is thoroughly cooked. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, make sure the stuffing's center reaches 165°F. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, wait 20 minutes after taking the bird out of the oven before removing the stuffing; this allows it to cook a little more. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F and may then cause food poisoning.

4. Cook Your Turkey Thoroughly. Set the oven temperature to at least 325°F. Place the completely thawed turkey in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165°F.  Spot check the temperature in the meaty portion of the turkey thigh without touching the bone; the breast area will reach temperature long before the thigh area. Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.

5. Take Care of Leftovers. Refrigerate leftovers at 40​​°F or colder as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation to prevent food poisoning. Slice or divide big cuts of meat, such as a roast turkey, into small quantities for refrigeration so they will cool quickly. Refrigerate leftovers that have been exposed to temperatures higher than 90°F, like in a hot car, within 1 hour. If you are refrigerating a big cut of meat, such as a turkey or roast, cut it into smaller pieces so they cool quickly. You do not need to wait until food is cool to store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Eat cooked turkey and dishes made with it, such as soup or a casserole, within 3 to 4 days. Freeze leftovers to store them for longer. Reheat all leftovers to at least 165°F before serving or eating.

Remember to Give Thanks to All of Your Military Members and Family Members that Support Them! 


  1. Food Safety Tips for Your Holiday Turkey. External Link (2022​) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
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