Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Fort Carson Mountaineer

Combat illness and weight gain: Stay safe with healthy holiday food

By Erin Cunningham and Sara Cogdill | Fort Carson Army Public Health Nursing

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Holiday food can be adventurous and fun but also dangerous and depressing when not prepared correctly. Contaminated food can put a damper on any festive celebration.

The Fort Carson Department of Public Health (FCPH), which includes Environmental Health (EH), Public Health Nursing and the Army Wellness Center (AWC), wants to promote a fun holiday season that includes nutritious and affordable food, as well as tips on how to combat foodborne illness and weight gain.

FCPH will be at the Fort Carson Commissary Nov. 15 from noon to 4:30 p.m. for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Registration and Healthy Holiday Food Event. Health promotion tables will be set up with subject matter experts to discuss safe holiday cooking and eating.

El Paso County WIC and Army Public Health Nursing will provide WIC education and registration opportunities. WIC provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, nutrition education and breastfeeding help. It serves pregnant women, postpartum moms and children up to age 5.

FCPH’s EH Division will teach participants how to safely handle holiday foods. The EH team will teach everyone how to properly thaw holiday foods, determine the proper temperature for safe food consumption and demonstrate how to properly store and reheat leftovers.

The AWC health educators will help participants understand food labels, the basics of shopping for healthy items and planning meals for the week. The AWC has numerous activities that provide prescriptive insight into weight management, metabolic testing, nutrition education, wellness coaching and body composition analysis.

With the approaching holiday season, social events will involve a variety of dishes but it’s important to remember food safety to remain healthy.

Most holiday parties consist of potlucks and food that sits out on the table for numerous hours with people going back for second servings. How do we know this food is still safe to eat? Perishable foods should not be at room temperature for more than two hours. The recommendation is: when in doubt, throw it out.

Another good tip is to have hand sanitizer available at the table for people to use. This can help decrease germ contamination on serving utensils and prevent the spread of illness.

It’s easy to over indulge in delicious desserts, but remember to eat from the five food groups and control portion sizes to help minimize the infamous holiday weight gain. Check out for more information and develop a holiday meal plan.

Visit the FCPH’s website at or call 526-9929 for more information.

Combat illness and weight gain: Stay safe with healthy holiday food
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