How to Host a Healthy Thanksgiving
By Melissa Leslie
Overeating isn’t the only thing to avoid during your family gathering.
We are all aware of the challenges to not overeat during the holidays, but have you ever considered that the air we are breathing while sitting around the Thanksgiving table may be more harmful than all that food?
Toxic Cleaning Preparation
Whether friends and family are coming in from out of town or just dropping over for dinner, most people want their home to look and smell its very best. Cleaning and decorating the house usually starts a week prior to Turkey Day – from washing bed sheets to scrubbing carpets, washing windows, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning countertops, and even cleaning out the oven! Many of the products used during this cleaning frenzy contain harmful chemicals that become trapped in the air of your home.
Fumes From Cooking
Most people don’t realize cooking can be a major source of indoor air pollutants. A gas burner almost always produces significant quantities of nitrogen dioxide and it can also produce carbon monoxide. Electric coil burners can produce very fine particles, particularly when you first turn it on. Self-cleaning ovens, whether gas or electric, can create pollutants as food waste is burned away.
Some families start cooking and baking the night before the big day. The build up of pollutants from hours of meal preparation takes its toll on the air quality. Studies show that air can be unhealthy to breathe when people cook in kitchens with poor ventilation.¹
Germs From Guests
When family arrives, they may be bringing with them something other than a bottle of wine or a side dish. They might be bringing contagious cold and flu viruses. With so many people bumping elbows and passing dishes to one another, it’s easy to see how germs can be transmitted from person to person.
After dinner, some of the guests may want to have a cigar or cigarette. Keep in mind, there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.² Windows are normally closed during Thanksgiving due to cold weather, trapping inside a smorgasbord of pollution and germs.
Creating A Healthy Thanksgiving Environment
Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce the amount of harmful contaminants being released into the air of your home.
- Use all natural or organic cleaning products.
- Vacuum the floors using a vacuum that uses HEPA filtration to remove any allergens or pet dander.
- Don’t spray air fresheners or light candles that could release harmful chemicals into the air.
- Clean your oven a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving.
- Ventilate your kitchen using a properly-installed, high efficiency range hood over your stove.
- Require guests to remove their shoes when entering the home.
- Ask guests to wash their hands prior to dinner.
- Serve the young children to avoid little hands contaminating the food.
- Refrain from smoking or ask guests to smoke outside.
- Open a few windows to let fresh air inside, weather permitting.
- Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove harmful pollution from the air.
Following these common sense tips can help you and your family remain healthy this holiday season.