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Food tips on keeping healthful ingredients, proper food safety and reducing food waste

March is National Nutrition Month and to commemorate the occasion, Hillcrest Hospital South Lead Dietitian Jennifer Watkins shares her expertise on the topic of nutrition in a pandemic through a series of weekly blogs.

This week, Watkins shares tips on how to keep healthful ingredients on hand, practice proper home food safety, share meals together as a family and reduce food waste.

Keep healthful ingredients on hand - Decide what to eat when arriving at the grocery store. Eat what is available in the pantry. If trying to lose weight and desire to cut down on your sugar intake, do not buy the sugary foods. Instead, keep stocked fresh fruits and vegetables and choose more vegetables at meals to fill up meals and avoid snacking during the day or late at night. 

See handouts “Smart Snacking Tips” and “Personalizing Your Plate.”

Practice proper home food safety - Wash your hands. It has been mentioned time and again, especially over the last year. Same thing with foods, wash fruits and vegetables. Keep hot foods above 140 degrees, and when finished, cool them down and place in the fridge within two hours of preparation to reduce the risk for food-borne illnesses.

Check out more helpful tips at https://www.tulsa-health.org/news/tulsa-health-department-offers-food-safety-tips-holiday-weekend.

Download the free app USDA Food Keeper at https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app for Android or Apple devices.

Share meals together as a family ‑ In today’s busy lifestyle, people are usually on the run; however eating together, at the table, can reduce the risk for both adult and childhood obesity. The Official Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics said, “Families that eat five or more meals together have children who are 25% less likely to encounter nutritional health issues than children who one or fewer meals with their families on a weekly basis.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3387875/

See handout for more tips on how to “Eating Right on a Budget”.

Reduce food wastePlan meals based on the foods you already have on hand, get creative with leftovers and master the shelf life of foods. Consider composting by piling food scraps in a bucket, empty it weekly and dig a hole in your back yard. Food scraps can be anything except meat/proteins.

See handout on “Eating Right and Reduce Food Waste”