Nothing can spoil your night faster than a bout of food poisoning, and what’s more, at this time of year there are even more chances to come down with a bad case that could ruin your holiday. Enjoy your Christmas food this year by learning to recognize the most common food poisoning symptoms and how to avoid them so you can safely and happily enjoy Christmas 2016.
Holiday Food Poisoning Prevention
The best way to make sure your Christmas is spent partaking in traditions and enjoying time spent with loved ones is to prevent contracting the illness altogether. This can be done by following a few simple tips and tricks to ensure the food you eat is safe.
Firstly, invest in a meat thermometer. Your Christmas ham or turkey can be one of the easiest ways to spread food poisoning if not cooked properly. While everyone has their own tricks for knowing when meats have been cooked through, the only sure way is to check its internal temperature with a calibrated meat thermometer. Play it safe and pick one up before you prepare your annual feast to eliminate the chance of you or one of your guests spending their Christmas in bed.
If you are prone to over-estimating the amount of food required, or are just planning on enjoying turkey sandwiches during the days after Christmas, it is imperative to make sure your leftovers go straight in the fridge. Leaving things like cooked meats out on the counter allows time for bacteria to grow, and when ingested later, that bacteria can be the cause of nasty symptoms that will leave you dehydrated and miserable.
Finally, while baking Christmas cookies is a tradition followed by many, it is important to do as your mother tells you and not eat the dough if it contains raw eggs. While once upon a time it was normal to sample the dough and lick cake batter from the beaters, there is a definite connection between ingesting raw egg and contracting salmonella. Don’t take the risk and wait for the cookies to bake, they taste better warm from the oven anyway.
Symptoms and Treatment
But what if you aren’t the one cooking this Christmas and somehow you’re left feeling worse for the wear after the annual feast? Below are some of the most common symptoms of food poisoning and recommendations on how to feel better faster.
Vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and stomach pains are just a few of the ways food poisoning can wreak havoc on your body, leaving you exhausted and dehydrated. While most cases of food poisoning will resolve on their own, it is important to see a doctor if these symptoms persist for more than a few days, or if you have a fever or find blood in your stool. The best way to ride out a case of the illness at home is to stay hydrated. This means not only drinking lots of water, but mixing it up with some Gatorade or Pedialyte as well, as your body is losing more than plain old water every time you have to visit the bathroom. You can also take an anti-nausea medication to try and keep those vital liquids down. A stool hardener may also be used, but it is important that you check with your doctor before taking one.
Prevention is the best way to play it safe this holiday, but if you’re one of the unlucky ones to come down with a horrible bout of food poisoning, make sure you stay hydrated and seek the advice of a doctor if needed.
Wedro, B., “Food Poisoning,” Medicine Net web site, November 4, 2016; http://www.medicinenet.com/food_poisoning/article.htm, last accessed December 23, 2016