Been to a family reunion lately? For many Americans, they include high-fat foods (grilled burgers, anyone?), potato salad made from Grandma’s recipe (and left to sit out in the sun all afternoon), salty snacks and excessive amounts of alcohol.
Since many people hold family reunions during the summer, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is offering the following tips for making such gatherings healthy and safe:
Plan a healthy menu
Serve food and drinks that are low in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables, which provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health, and also may reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
As you plan and prepare healthy meals, follow the recipe for food safety to help avoid harmful foodborne bacteria:
- Clean: Wash produce. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food.
- Separate: Don't cross-contaminate one food with another.
- Cook: Cook meat, poultry, and eggs thoroughly.
- Chill: Refrigerate leftovers promptly.
- Report: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to your local public health department.
Creating a family recipe book to hand out at the reunion? You can accommodate the dietary needs of relatives with high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or other conditions. Find helpful meal planning hints to enjoy your favorite foods with healthier ingredients.
Some reunions may include walking, hiking, dancing, swimming, or other activities. You can socialize and stay fit at the same time. Pick fun physical activities to do together, and enjoy the health benefits.
Know and share your family health history
A family reunion is a good time to share family history—people, events, places, and dates. Why not share your family health history too?
A family health history is a written or graphic record of the diseases and health conditions present in your family. You can’t change your genes, but you can change behaviors that affect your health, such as smoking, inactivity, and poor eating habits. People who have a close family member with a chronic disease (for instance, cancer, coronary heart disease, and diabetes) may have a higher risk of developing that disease than those without such a family member.
Take a health quiz with family members to determine risk for certain diseases or conditions.
No matter the distance you are traveling, keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid drinking and driving.
- Make sure adults and children are buckled up in motor vehicles.
- If you're taking a cruise, check ship inspection scores.
- If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you've had all appropriate vaccinations for your destination. Check out travel notices about current health issues related to specific destinations.
Visit CDC's Travelers' Health to learn more about safe travel.
Enjoy and be safe
Enjoy your reunion—and take precautions to make sure that family and friends are safe while visiting and playing. Prevent injuries from falls, drownings, sports activities, and more. Learn how to stay safe and healthy while enjoying the outdoors and traveling.
Be conscious of the environment—and help sustain it for future generations. Whenever possible, recycle items from your reunion.