Nutrition Corner: Stay healthy through holidays with these simple tricks

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret -

Ah, choo… and the sounds have begun. With the holidays around the corner, who wants to be sick?

According to the Center for Disease Control, handwashing is like a vaccine. Germs are not visible to the naked eye so it is easy to pick up a bunch and not even know it.

Shopping, standing in line, touching in and outdoors, eating and talking at holiday parties all are ripe for the spreading of germs. However, there is help. Through proper handwashing, we can cut down on the number of germs spread from place to place.

First, think of the most important times you need to wash your hands and stick to it. After using the restroom, handling raw meats, playing with pets and before eating anything, snacks, cookies, or holiday goodies are important times to wash your hands.

Next, be aware of what you touch before putting food in your mouth. You might pick up a few germs on the doors, counters or coffee pot. Remember to look at the silverware before putting it in your mouth. If it is plastic or real, is the fork mouth side up or down? If it’s mouth side up, then someone might have touched it without you knowing it. Always keep mouth side of spoons, forks and knives faced down in self-service containers.

Here is how to wash your hands so the germs slide off easily and are down the drain. Get your family to use these proper handwashing techniques, too.

First, have a paper towel ready. In your home, consider changing over to disposable hand towels throughout the holidays. Next, wet hands under running warm water, as warm as you can stand it. Apply soap. Use enough soap to build up a good lather. Scrub backs of hands, wrists, under fingernails, and between fingers for 20 seconds. Rinse hands under running warm water. This is the rinse step when the germs come off your hands. Lastly, dry hands with paper towel. Remember to turn off the faucet with the paper towel. You do not want to pick up any more germs on your way out of the bathroom.

Remember, we cannot see the germs so it is important to scrub for 20 seconds then rinse under clean running water. Be wary of objects which can carry germs, like light switches, desk tops, door handles … the list is endless.

Eating healthy foods as well as getting adequate sleep during the holidays also helps to reduce the risk of getting sick and quickens the recovery time should you get sick.

Keep your immune system healthy because it is our body’s protection against disease and illness. We need Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, zinc, and protein, as well as some other nutrients for a healthy immune system. These come from fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, dairy, whole grains and meats. Even though you may not feel like eating, it is important to eat and drink fluids.

This is the time to equip your kitchen with flu fighting foods. Store them in the freezer for quick access. Here are just a few suggestions with the nutrient they give us. Oranges (vitamin C), frozen broccoli, carrots (Vitamin A), frozen spinach (vitamin A & E), almonds (vitamin E) canned beans (zinc) and lean beef (protein and zinc).

Here is a recipe for slow cooker beef soup for those late-night holiday shopping trips to boost your immune system Enjoy and stay healthy.

Slow Cooker Beef Soup

1 pound ground beef, 90% lean

1/2 cup onion (chopped)

1 cup carrot (chopped)

2 cups potatoes (chopped)

1 cup celery (chopped)

1 can tomatoes (14.5 ounce)

4 cups water

Oregano, basil or other herb (optional)

Brown ground beef in a medium fry pan. Drain fat. Place beef, chopped vegetables, tomatoes and water in slow cooker. Cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours. Enjoy!

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at