Coping With The Holiday Blues

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Coping with the Holiday Blues
The holidays are a time for tradition, for going home, and for sharing food, gifts, relaxation and good times with family and friends. At least, that's how we all expect the holidays to be. The fact that they seldom are that way is what causes so much of the “holiday blues.” Add to that the demands on our time and money and it's easy to see why the holidays can leave us feeling both stressed and depressed. Here are some tips for maintaining
your sanity during the holidays.

Keep It Simple

Keep your expectations reasonable so you won't feel let down. This includes your expectations of yourself. Avoid elaborate preparations that leave you exhausted or in debt. The holiday spirit is not about cooking the perfect meal or buying the perfect presents. If shopping is your biggest source of stress, try one or more of these approaches:

1. Shop from home using mail–order catalogs, or shop online.
2. Shop early or shop a little bit at a time.
3. Set a time limit for holiday gift buying.
4. Choose simple gifts.

Treat Yourself Right

Be kind to yourself, allowing some time for doing what you truly Enjoy. Be reasonable about alcohol and rich foods. Try to get your usual amount of sleep.

Start Your Own Traditions

One source of holiday blues is the loss of meaning in many of our childhood traditions. Or perhaps families are too widely scattered to carry on family traditions. Start your own traditions that include people near you. In time, such traditions will become as cherished as those of your childhood.

Acknowledge Losses

Loss of a loved one, relationship or tradition is felt more intensely during holidays. Acknowledge the loss in some simple way, such as looking through a photo album. A holiday period following a loss is a good time to change traditions somewhat so that you're less likely to compare this season with the ones before the loss.

Watch Out for Family Strife

Holidays are not good times for resolving family disputes or confronting relatives with grievances. If disputes arise during the holidays, agree on a time in the future to resolve them when emotions aren't running as high.

Be a Volunteer

Volunteering your time is one holiday tradition that can be pursued even when family and friends are far away. Help out at a local service center or homeless shelter that offers holiday meals, or offer to drive seniors to shopping centers or holiday events.

Do Something After the Holidays

When the holiday rush is over, many people feel lost. Plan some activities for after the holidays. It gives you something to look forward to and provides a transition into the non–holiday mode. If, in spite of everything, holidays give you the blues, and you feel you are drifting into more serious depression, talk it over with a friend, counselor or spiritual advisor. It can make an enormous difference.

A Recipe for Food Safety

A few hours after lunch, your stomach is churning and you're flushed. But surely it couldn't be food poisoning. After all, you know better than to eat a rare hamburger. You had a light salad of vegetables and sprouts.

Almost no food is immune from contamination. Though most foodborne illness stems from raw animal foods – such as eggs, meats and dairy products – fruits and vegetables may carry germs. Foodborne diseases can be caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. Each year, foodborne disease hospitalizes 325,000 people and kills up to 5,000.

Be careful with produce

Fruits and vegetables often come from nations without rigid safety standards. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Don't skip fruits with inedible rinds. Bacteria on rinds can spread to the flesh during slicing.

Handle susceptible foods carefully

Bacteria need moisture content, protein and carbohydrates to grow. Potato salad and macaroni salad offer ideal conditions. Keep those dishes well chilled. Never let a starchy salad touch raw meat or utensils used on raw meats. Contain bacteria Prevent bacteria from spreading from raw to cooked meats. If you carry a platter of burgers to the grill, use a second clean plate to take the meat from the grill.

Keep foods cold

Refrigeration doesn't kill bacteria; it stops or slows growth. Food can still go bad in the fridge. The bacterium Listeria is an exception in that it grows well in the cold.

Understand “sell–by” and “use–by” dates

“Sell by” applies to stores, which can keep things colder in the back room before display than you do in your refrigerator. If the sell–by date on raw poultry is a week away, you've only got two or three days to use it once you bring it home. The “use–by” date refers to an unopened package. Keep food preparation areas clean Wipe your sink with diluted bleach once a week. Avoid using sponges; change your dishcloth at least once daily.

Four key ingredients

Clean. Wash your hands with soap and water. Discard outer lettuce and cabbage leaves. Wash fruits and vegetables.

Chill. Refrigerate leftovers promptly When you arrive home from the grocery store, put refrigerated items away first. Don't let milk sit out during a meal.

Cook. Heat hamburgers to 160o on a meat thermometer. Cook egg yolks until firm.

Separate. Don't let raw foods such as vegetables touch raw meats.

Major threats

Botulism ( Clostridium botulinum )
Prevention: Don't use food in cracked jars or cans that are swollen, leaking or damaged or that have bulging ends. Don't give honey or foods that contain honey to children under age 1.

Clostridium ( Clostridium species –– not botulinum )
Prevention: Thought to develop mostly in meats and meat products that have been warmed too long or rewarmed. Prepare food fresh and eat it soon after preparation.

C. jejuni ( Campylobacter jejuni )
Prevention: Avoid raw or undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk anduntreated water. Cook ground meats thoroughly.

E. coli ( Escherichia coli )
Prevention: Eat only thoroughly cooked meat and poultry. Wash produce, especially lettuce, thoroughly. Avoid unpasteurized milk and apple cider.

Listeria ( Listeria monocytogenes )
Prevention: Wash raw vegetables thoroughly, especially lettuce and cabbage leaves. Cook meat and poultry thoroughly and avoid unpasteurized dairy foods. Carefully observe “sell by” and “use by” dates on processed foods.

Salmonella ( Salmonella species )
Prevention: Thoroughly cook meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Don't eat raw eggs in salad dressing and baking dough. Use separate cutting surfaces and knives to prepare raw and cooked foods. Never eat unpasteurized, raw or undercooked foods of animal origin.

Staphylococcus aureus ( Staphylococcus aureus )
Prevention: Don't keep prepared foods sitting at room temperature for more than two hours. Store meat, fish and poultry in the coldest part of the refrigerator.

Bold Winter Greens Salad

2–3 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. sherry vinegar
3–4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
1/3 C – extra–virgin olive oil
12 C – chopped mixed bitter salad greens, such as chicory, radicchio and escarole,
3 large hard–boiled eggs

1. Place garlic in a large salad bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice and vinegar; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in anchovies to taste. Whisk in oil in a slow steady stream until well combined.

2. Add salad greens and toss. Shred 3 egg whites and 1 egg yolk through the large holes of a box grater (reserve the remaining yolks for another use or discard). Sprinkle salad with the grated egg.

Per serving: 92 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 6 g mono); 22 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber; 102 mg sodium; 168 mg potassium. Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1 1/2 fat Source:

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