A Nurse’s Guide to Safe, Healthy & Socially Distanced Holiday Meals in 2020

The 2020 holiday season is here, and in these unprecedented times, we're faced with making some essential changes in how we celebrate. Who knew that socially distanced holidays would be a thing, but here we are! While you may be planning healthy holiday meals for your family, it's also important to think about your environment's health and well-being this season.

A Nurse's Guide to Safe, Healthy, and Socially Distanced Holiday Meals in 2020

The 2020 holiday season is here, and in these unprecedented times, we’re faced with making some essential changes in how we celebrate. Who knew that socially distanced holidays would be a thing, but here we are! While you may be planning healthy holiday meals for your family, it’s also important to think about your environment’s health and well-being this season.

As I began making plans for our family, I recognize that in order to keep everyone safe, there’s going to have to be some modifications to how we gather, where we gather, and who we gather with this season. You may be feeling the same pressures I am, so I want to help you rest easier by sharing the top things to think about while planning healthy holiday meals for a socially distanced holiday.

Healthy Socially Distanced Holidays Start with Healthy Holiday Meals

I’m getting really excited to have some of the favorite holiday dishes. Our family is all about the preparation- chopping, dicing, slicing, and getting our favorites ready for the oven. It’s important to keep things as healthy as possible, even during the holidays.

Healthy holiday foods are easy and fun if you simply focus on what our grandmothers have known for years – eat real food. Sadly, many of the traditional foods we see during the holidays have been infused with not-so-good-for-you ingredients that take them from healthy to hazardous. For example, sweet potatoes are some of the healthiest foods we can eat, but they lose their nutritional value once you add sugar and marshmallows. Sure, they taste great, but they aren’t healthy for you or your family.

Keeping foods as close to their original state as possible will help keep them healthy and your body feeling great during the holidays. Be sure to consider these tips when planning your healthy holiday meals.

Tip: Avoid boxed, canned, and jarred foods.

These foods tend to be high in salt and preservatives. Stick to whole foods that come from the produce, dairy, and meat section of your grocery store.

Tip: Make your own sauces and condiments.

Like Cream of Mushroom soup or Redi Whip, many of our favorite products are staples in holiday dishes, but they aren’t healthy. It’s not difficult to make your own sauces and condiments that taste better and keep you healthy. Here’s an excellent recipe for homemade cream of mushroom soup that I know you’ll love.

Also, I created a simple way to make your own whipped cream that will have you turning down the store-bought stuff forever!

Tip: Get creative with your menu.

Some people simply don’t love traditional holiday foods. That’s okay. It’s easy to create wonderful alternatives that are healthy, nutritious, and free from chemicals and preservatives. My sweet potato pumpkin chili is an awesome alternative to traditional holiday fare.

Choosing healthy foods is a perfect start for a socially distanced holiday, but that’s only part of the battle for 2020. Keeping your friends and family safe this season will also require some creative planning to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Healthy Socially Distanced Holidays Require Some Extra Care

The COVID-19 virus doesn’t care that it’s the holiday season. In fact, the risks are higher during this time of year because people can’t be out in the fresh air as often due to inclement weather. One of the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to maintain a healthy social distance of six feet or more, preferably outside. If being outside isn’t possible, we all need to take some extra precautions to stay safe this season.

There are a number of things to consider this year when it comes to planning a safe, socially distanced holiday. One of the most important is to decrease the number of people you host or engage with during the holiday. Also, considering where your guests may be traveling from and how prolific COVID-19 has been where they live in. People traveling from out of the area and co-mingling can increase the chances of spreading the virus. Also, the safety and hygiene practices that people have when they are together can decrease or amplify the chances of infection.

Before you call it quits on the holiday, rest assured that there are things you can do to safely socially distance during your get-togethers.

  • Consider virtual dining
  • Dine outdoors when possible
  • Get creative with smaller seating arrangements
  • Shorten your guest list

These are great ideas that could help reduce the risk of infection among those you love.

The most important part of celebrating the holidays is enjoying family traditions. Doing the things your family looks forward to each year. Even in 2020, it’s crucial to prioritize your family traditions this holiday. COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to narrow our focus to what matters most to your family and stick with those unique traditions. It may not be feasible or wise to do activities in large crowds, but you can still enjoy plenty of things. They also share a great reminder that this season will likely stand out in our memories over the years since it’s so unusual. That means some of the things that feel out of the ordinary will become something special in years to come.

You can do plenty to help reduce the risk of exposure and keep your family healthy and socially distanced this holiday. In addition, consider these tips for creating a healthy, socially distanced environment for you and your guests.

Tip: Deep clean before and after your gatherings.

Doing what you can to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and any other unwanted germs is smart any time of year. Deep clean high traffic areas before and after your guests, and you’ll help protect everyone this season.

Tip: Consider curbside pickup for your groceries.

Any chance you have to reduce the exposure to other people helps reduce the spread of COVID-19. Avoiding crowded areas like the market is a great way to reduce risk. Consider ordering your holiday groceries online and utilize curbside pickup or delivery. Our two favorite places to order fresh food from are Imperfect Foods (weekly order) and Azure Standard (monthly bulk order). We get our non-perishables from Thrive Market. I never have to go to the store anymore, and I don’t miss dragging all of my kids there either!

Tip: Be conscientious when serving your meals.

Asking family to wash their hands prior to handling food is an excellent way to keep germs to a minimum. Be sure to offer plenty of good quality soap and disposable towels for guests to use, and consider leaving germ-fighting sanitizer out in strategic places inside your home.

Tip: Mask up if you’re hosting a buffet.

While wearing masks may feel controversial for some, masking up when food is being dished up could help reduce contamination. Buy some fun holiday masks to have available for guests to use! Keep things lighthearted and encourage guests to wear their masks when they belly up to a buffet-style meal.

Ultimately, you must make the call as to what the holidays will look like for you and your family this year. There’s a lot to think about when making your plans. Do your best to consider these critical factors to help keep everyone safe.

  • Elderly and medically fragile people are at greater risk
  • Not all people experience symptoms when they are infected
  • People visiting from out of the area may pose a greater risk for infection
  • Not everyone uses proper hygiene practices
  • Being confined to small spaces for periods of time increases the risk

Doing what you can to reduce the number of people who gather (especially those at high-risk), ensuring proper safety protocols are followed, and getting outside or hosting shorter get-togethers can help reduce the likelihood someone may become infected.

My hope is that you and your family have a memorable and safe holiday with all the activities and yummy healthy holiday meals that make you happy. From my family to yours, enjoy these unique holidays and make the most of your 2020 holiday season.

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A Nurse's Guide to Safe, Healthy, and Socially Distanced Holiday Meals in 2020

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