5 Foods to Avoid this Holiday Season

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Nostalgia for the holidays often comes in the form of particularly festive tastes and smells. Aside from the anticipation of gifts and familial bonding, holiday foods are a major draw to the love for this season. It is likely that each family has their go-to holiday foods geared up and ready for when this time of year rolls around. Stuffed turkeys and pot roasts, fresh-baked cookies and pies, candied yams and buttery corn bread—they are some of the most delicious parts of our holiday season. However, they are also some of the worst foods for your waistline.

Holiday foods are notoriously loaded with refined sugars, saturated and trans-fats, and sodium. As delectable these foods are, the quick pleasure they leave on your lips is not worth the lasting pounds they can leave on your hips. Some of us are more vulnerable to gaining weight during our Thanksgiving and winter breaks than we were to gaining the “freshman 15.” The season is both a time of lazed hibernation and calorie-dense foods more decorated than your dorm room. It’s not the best combination for any health-conscious person, so it’s important to be aware of how you handle the temptation to overindulge.

Understandably, these unhealthy foods are sometimes impossible to avoid, as they can comprise a family’s entire holiday menu. In those cases, portion control is key if you want to keep your healthy lifestyle intact—a little indulgence here and there never hurt anybody. There are, however, healthier alternatives to most of your festive favorites. Here is a list of seasonal foods you should definitely try to avoid or minimize, and healthier ways to satisfy those holiday cravings:

Candied Yams

Yams, also known as sweet potatoes, are a wonderful food. Add a few sticks of butter, brown sugar, and a layer of marshmallows, and this formerly nutritious vegetable becomes a dietary nightmare. Try to skip the candied version and see if there is an option sans the unhealthy additions. On their own, roasted sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins and can help fill you up before you overindulge elsewhere in your celebration.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes, although classically delicious, are loaded with all things saturated fat. In order to get the flavor we all love, this dish typically requires a lot of butter and added salt. Potatoes are already packed with carbs, so the added fat is a dangerous combination. It is best to ask for a baked potato instead, using low-sodium seasonings to liven it up.

Full-fat Dips

What’s a holiday without the classic party dip? We all love to pair finger foods with some form of dip during celebrations, but dips can easily become a slippery slope. Creamy dressings and sour cream based dips are high in saturated fat and calories. The serving size for many of these dips are far less than what you may be tempted to mindlessly eat while making dinner conversation. The calories add up quickly. Avoid these and look for a yogurt-based or hummus dip, and try to reach for the veggie plate rather than chips. These small swaps will make the biggest difference.

Cookies and Pies

Holiday dinners never seem to be complete without freshly baked cookies or pies, or both. They are extremely delicious, but as with most scrumptious holiday foods, they are loaded with all kinds of naughty ingredients. The caloric content in most pies are through the roof, making them a sinful temptation. If you must have your pie, reach for the pumpkin over the pecan and avoid the crust completely. The crust usually contains the majority of the fat and skipping it will save you some calories. If you must have your cookies, self-control will be your savior. Practice portion control and stay mindful of your eating time. Not only will it help prevent you from reaching for more, you’ll also have a chance to savor each bite.

Last Words of Advice…

When attending these celebratory dinner parties, it’s important to maintain self-restraint. Many families won’t budge on their menu and have little interest in making healthier alternatives for you. If you want to avoid overdoing it, keep your cravings distracted. Chew gum after eating a plate and try to stay engaged in conversation with relatives you haven’t seen in a year. There are ways to prevent yourself from falling into the holiday trap, just remember to stay mindful. With the help of your willpower, you can make it through the season guilt-free.

By Melissa Espinal

6 Things You Need to Survive the Winter

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There are two weeks between Thanksgiving and winter break. That’s definitely enough time to get hypothermia, but not enough time to beg your parents to send you care packages full of your necessary winter items.

When you go home for Thanksgiving break, consider some of the items you might need to keep you sane during finals week. No one should have to worry about dealing with the freezing wintry days during such an already stressful time of year. Here are six things you definitely need to bring back to school with you to help conquer the cold:

Rain boot liners: Weather is tricky here in Syracuse, and without a doubt it changes quickly. Those rain boots of yours may find use again even in frigid temperatures, so keep your toes warm in the rain with fleece liners that block out the cold.

Hand/foot warmers: Planning on going to an event outside on campus? Or maybe you’re going on a walk with friends to shake off the stress of finals. In either situation, hand and foot warmers last for hours while keeping your appendages dry and toasty.

Foot Powder: When your feet are cold and soaked, germs can infest the insides of your shoes, causing them to stink up your dorm room. Add some foot powder to them before you head out but be cautious, many foot powders are “mint”-scented and will cause your toes to be chillier than they already are. Look for unscented or “fresh” powders.

Clorox wipes: When the cold hits, germs spread everywhere we go, especially in dorms. Keep your laptop, phone, desk, and door handles clean in order to avoid sickness. After all, staying healthy is one of the best things you can do for yourself this time of year.

Slippers/Moccasins: Walking in the dorms without shoes on is an obvious red flag, but flip-flops no longer seem appropriate. Bring back your fuzziest slippers or coziest moccasins to keep your feet warm and protected from infection when you’re just hanging around.

Chapstick/Creams: This seems pretty obvious during the winter, but you would be surprised how quickly you can run out of these items. Stock up on chapstick and creams for your face and hands – these body parts are exposed to harsh temperatures and can chap very easily.

By Liz Tosi

Are You Napping Right?

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Oh, the ever-so-lovely daytime nap. It’s a part of the college experience as crucial as afternoon coffee and weekend nights out. After a night or three of depriving yourself of nighttime sleep to finish reading those chapters and writing those essays, you, the tired college student, can always find solace in a quick nap after class the next day. You know your purpose in doing so—to refresh yourself and tackle the rest of your busy day. So why is it that sometimes you wake up feeling truly rejuvenated and other times you end up feeling groggier than when you entered that lovely sleep?

The big answer is simple: you slept for too long or you didn’t sleep for long enough. The ideal length for an energizing nap falls somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes’ worth of Z’s. If you nap a little too far beyond the 30-minute mark, you could be sacrificing your energy to a familiar case of sleep inertia, or that groggy, disorienting post-nap feeling. This is due to the fact that when you sleep for too long, you are allowing yourself to drift too far into the sleep cycle. Waking up before the cycle is complete could cause your body to crave more, hence the sleep inertia. It’s best to keep your naps between the first two stages of sleep instead of Stages 3 and 4, the deep sleep stages, if you hope to avoid this problem. That way you keep your sleep shallow, and waking up will come easily.

Another way you could be sabotaging your naptime experience is by deciding to clock out at the wrong time of day. In addition to your circadian rhythms, which determine your optimal sleep-wake time based on light, you also have arcadian rhythms. These tell your body what time of day it should be the sleepiest in order to efficiently keep up with a 24-hour schedule. This creates a feeling of sleepiness that could be felt at its heaviest between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., as well as 1:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. To best obey what your body wants, you should be napping sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. It’s ideal to spend this time frame renewing your depleted energy reserves.

You should also be making your place of napping a temporary sanctuary, with sunlight eliminated and comfort surrounding you. You’ll want to maintain a cozy temperature and minimize distracting noises. For some of you, it may prove helpful to turn on a sleep machine or use a relaxation app to guide you to your sleep destination.

Before you visit the land of dreams, assure yourself that you’re maximizing your nap’s benefits by setting an alarm. It is far too easy to forget this step and your 30-minute nap can stretch to four hours in a flash, which would not be ideal.

Be sure to always keep in mind your individual needs when approaching sleep and napping. What works for you may not work the same way for your roommate. Get to know your sleep cycle. Ask yourself: What time do I normally go to bed? What time, then, do I actually fall asleep? How long do I usually stay asleep? When you know the answer to these questions, you should then be able to understand the perfect time for you to nap and what kind of napping works best for you.

Naps can be beneficial to you on many levels. Aside from keeping you alert, they can also improve your cognitive performance, boost your mood, and sharpen motor skills. Find your time, pick your place, and get to napping. Your mind and body will thank you.

By Melissa Espinal

Cutting Out Cross Contact

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For many students, the dining hall poses a harmful, and sometimes an even life-threatening risk. Imagine entering the dining hall, scanning all of the meal options available and not knowing one hundred percent if what you are serving yourself is safe. “Of course that grape jelly doesn’t contain gluten!” and “Why would you think that those pancakes contain peanuts?” are common utterances made by your unknowing peers when you express even the smallest amount of caution regarding your dietary restrictions. Even worse, your questions about the ingredients of certain entrees offered evoke glazed-over, blank stares from the working staff. If only all of these people understood the seriousness of your concerns involving your meal. Little do they know that even the tiniest allergens or food contaminants can cause severe reactions, a major consequence of the disguisable issue of cross contact, or cross contamination.

Of course the dining hall scenario described above provides a rather cynical perspective and discriminates against all knowledgeable, cautious students and dining hall staff. In fact, the SU dining services could not be more accommodating when giving specialized attention and creating personalized meal plans for students with allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, and auto-immune diseases. Yet these health conditions cannot be taken lightly and variations of the aforementioned dining hall scenario can cause confusion or uneasiness in certain students. Especially with the increased prevalence of dietary restrictions over the past decade, there is a greater demand for the general public to learn about cross contact, a phenomenon occurring when an allergen is inadvertently transferred from a food containing an allergen to a food that does not contain the allergen. Between 2007 and 2010, it is estimated that between 3.9 percent and 8 percent of children had food allergies, translating to more than three million children. In addition, food allergies increased by 18 percent in children under 18 between 1997 and 2010. Although different health conditions can result in various reactions, the immediate and most dangerous effect of consuming an allergen is called anaphylactic shock, involving rapid swelling of the breathing passage and loss of consciousness. Each year, one in six Americans becomes sick from eating contaminated food and an estimated 125 people die from severe reactions every year.

While noting the severe health risks for students with dietary related conditions, it is time to understand how the other diners play into this dining hall scenario. Students with dietary restrictions have the responsibility of familiarizing themselves with the designated areas from which they can eat in the dining hall, but there are certain precautions and considerate actions that other students can take to help prevent food reactions. For example, if a knife is missing from a strawberry jam dispenser, a student should not take a knife sitting in another food product, such as cream cheese, and use it to obtain the jam. Even if the cream cheese knife has been wiped clean with a napkin before placed into the jam, there could be enough dairy remaining on the knife to cause a reaction in a person who has a dairy allergy or lactose-intolerance. Although invisible, a trace of food on a knife or spoon can cause a reaction.

As for the students with dietary related health conditions, keeping up with a safe diet is not difficult if the right resources are discovered. The SU dining services keep nutritional information and ingredient guides online for all meals offered in our dining halls. Just remember to stay aware of the possibility of cross contact between foods and educate others to take precautions as well. Preventing food reactions is a group effort and affects more than just the high-risk diners involved.

By Allison Milch

How Sleep Deprived Are You, Really?

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Let’s face it—we live in a world where our work comes first and a quality night’s sleep is much lower on our priority list. We work long into the night, or we use that time to mindlessly de-stress with Netflix or Facebook after spending the daytime on our obligations. We then proceed to load ourselves with caffeine to keep us going the following morning (then late afternoon), and repeat the cycle. This has become the lifestyle for many modernized humans, much against what our nature requires.

About one in five adults fail to catch enough Z’s and experience the effects of sleep deprivation. This is a serious problem since the numbers have only gotten scarier in recent years. High school students are averaging a full two hours less of sleep per night than their grandparents had as teenagers. We can only imagine what this means for college students, simply considering our increasingly demanding schedules and inherent attachment to our laptops and phones.

So what’s the big deal? You’ve pulled all-nighters and were fine the next day (thanks to that coffee). It must not be all that detrimental—we’re young and have energy reserves for days.

Well, the effects of sleep deprivation can actually be quite severe. It comes in several different forms and the way you respond will vary. You could be mildly sleep deprived, which occurs when you regularly clock in one or two hours less of sleep than your body needs. You could be chronically sleep deprived, meaning you’re sleeping less than four or five hours a night for a prolonged period of time. Or you could be somewhere in the middle, getting an irregular amount of sleep each night. In each case, your body would remain hungry for the sleep it needs and craves.

Even if you are only a little bit sleep deprived, you are accumulating a debt of sleep which could take you a while to pay off. Unfortunately, this debt keeps growing as long as you’re not sleeping correctly. Whether you notice the effects or not, you’re being affected and sleep deprivation can really hurt your overall well-being. Over time, it can impair your cognitive abilities, damage your mental health, suppress your immune system, and mess with your metabolism.

Here are ten telling signs that sleep should soon become your number one priority:

  1. You are finding it difficult to make the simplest decisions, especially the ones you would normally solve easily.

You spent a half-hour this morning deciding whether to wear your hair up or down.

  1. You are overeating much more than usual—you experience considerable cravings for sugar and simple carbs.

You see carrots, you buy a brownie. Later, you realize that you need a slice of meat-lovers’ pizza for lunch, and two for dinner.

  1. You seem to be getting sick a lot lately.

Those dark under-eye circles and that increasingly raspy voice…

  1. You feel oddly disconnected to your emotions; either you are uncharacteristically overemotional, or you feel an unusual lack of empathy.

You barely feel like a real human being some days.

  1. You’re in a depressive state or feel stress much more heavily.

Two exams in one week? End. Of. The. World.

  1. You can’t seem to pay enough attention and you make simple mistakes.

Your mental and motor skills are not working in your favor right now. Life becomes an obstacle course. “Who put this wall here?”

  1. You are more forgetful than usual.

You have no idea why you just walked into that room.

  1. You find yourself zoning out far too many times in a day.

Your friends keep snapping their fingers in your face.

  1. You fall asleep immediately when you lie down for a nap (given that you’re Blood-Caffeine-Content is under the legal limit).

All your body really wants to do is sleep.

10. You read a few of these sentences more than once.

Where’s your focus? Tonight you may want to look for it in your dreams.

By Melissa Espinal

The 6 Healthiest Marshall Street Eats

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Weekends in college can be associated with making bad decisions. At midnight when all of your friends crave that greasy pizza from Acropolis, or those smothered wings from Varsity, sometimes you’ll feel pressured to join the crowd. Two hours later you’re stuck with a guilty, bloated feeling instead. Next time you head down to Marshall Street, consider some of these healthier options so you can enjoy the time with your friends and not worry about it later.

Best Breakfast: If you end up at Funk ‘N Waffles, have no fear! There are whole-wheat options as well as fruit toppings, yogurt, nuts, and granola. They also offer half-size orders and with the right toppings, the fiber and protein will fill you right up!

Best Lunch/Dinner: The Pita-Pit is protein-packed! Go for a lighter option, like the Spicy Black Bean or Hummus Pita for protein and carbs to fuel you up for your night-long adventures.

Best Salads: Think Faegan’s is only pub food and beer? Think again! They offer many seemingly “upscale” salad options for around $10 each. Toppings include fruit, nuts, cheeses, fish, and an array of light and refreshing salad dressings.

Best Late Night Snacks: Don’t knock off King David’s for some snacks! Greek food is often made with olive oil and fresh ingredients, and King David’s offers an array of appetizers that are healthy. It’s a great way to get in some extra veggies at night and not feel weighed down after.

Best Desserts: Strong Heart’s Café offers many vegan options for desserts, including cupcakes and cookies. They also have an enormous shake and smoothie list that can please even the pickiest eater, containing chocolaty, fruity, or even caffeinated beverages. If vegan is not on your list, there is always Yogurtland. It can be a relatively healthy option if portion control and fresh toppings such as coconut, fruits, sliced almonds, and even peanut butter are used.

No matter what you choose, remember not to stress out too much about where you end up. Make the healthiest choice possible, and enjoy the time with your friends.

By Liz Tosi

Even on Halloween, She’s Still #NotAskingForIt

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It’s that time of year again. The Hall of Languages is lit up in purple and “Hocus Pocus” is on every night on ABC Family. Halloween rolls around every October, but as the years pass us by, so too does the culture of the holiday. When you’re a little kid, Halloween is all about scary costumes, candy apples, and trick-or-treating. However, after puberty, things get a little less G-rated. For the older crowd, Halloween is synonymous with drinking and partying. Strobe lights and spiked punch replace candy apples and trick-or-treating. Nevertheless, as the holiday evolves from wholesome to racy, perhaps the raciest transition of them all are the costumes, particularly for women.

Ask any student around campus, or any campus in America for that fact, and most will tell you it is common knowledge that women will be scantily clad on Halloween. Any costume you could possibly imagine is sexualized. A girl doesn’t dress up as just a doctor, an esteemed, respected and highly educated figure in society. Instead, she dresses up as a “Sexy Doctor,” wearing basically lingerie with a Red Cross symbol ironed on. The list goes on all day, “Sexy Nurse,” “Sexy Firefighter,” “Sexy Toll Booth Worker.” So why do so many women bare it all on the 31st? Is it our way of saying that we are looking to have sex? The answer to this question can’t be diminished to an overall generalization made by third parties. Women are complex human beings, so to assume our willingness for intercourse belittles our worth is a form of discrimination. Much like the decision to have sex, what we wear on our bodies is our prerogative. In all different aspects (sex, clothing, medical etc.), each individual has the final say when it comes to his or her own body.

If “just because” doesn’t satisfy you, there are other reasons why women may choose to wear less on Halloween. It is possibly the only day of the year they feel comfortable to do so. Halloween is all about disguise. To quote the cult classic “Mean Girls,” “In girl world, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut, and no other girl can say anything about it.” While “Mean Girls” is undoubtedly hysterical, it is also satirical and holds truth in this situation. For one night (or seven during undergrad, but hey who’s counting?), you can be anyone you want to be. Every other day, a woman must bear the weight of what society tells them is an appropriate expression of their sexuality, so Halloween is a window of opportunity where the rules don’t apply. Wear whatever you want, because you won’t have to sport the red A on your blouse come Monday morning. This all boils down to the archaic notion that a woman is reduced to her appearance. You’re a good girl for dressing conservatively, and a slut for bearing skin. A woman’s choice to wear a skimpy Halloween costume most likely results from backwards thinking.

Still, if a woman dresses herself in a tiny outfit is she sending a message? Many people hold the view that she put it on willingly, so she’s objectifying herself. She’s basically asking for sex. Right? So wrong. As college students and Halloween rave-goers, it is important to be reminded of the harsh reality of the situation. Human rights and common sense tell us you can only ask for something by actually asking for it. Consent is given only when the initiator of sexual activity is sure they have obtained consent before moving forward. Knowing they have received an affirmative YES is the only way to know if the activity is OK. This does not include making assumptions based on what someone might be wearing.

Who’s to say that someone is promiscuous based off of how she’s dressed? Women aren’t mindless sex objects, so if a woman so chooses to display her cleavage or midriff, it doesn’t mean she’s up for grabs. Everyone has the right to his or her own body. This means you can do what you want with yours (i.e. wear little clothing), but have absolutely no right to make assumptions about what you can do to someone else’s. The way someone is dressed isn’t permission to draw inferences or assumptions about sexual interaction. A sexy costume is not an invitation. It does not equal consent.

If you would like to become active with this campaign, contact the Office of Health Promotions through email at healthpromotions@syr.edu or stop by their office at 111 Waverly Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13244.

By Meghan Reilly

How Water Can Aid Weight Loss

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When reflecting back on the weeks spent studying for midterms, many of us sacrificed healthy rituals. Whether it was stress-feeding on 2:00 a.m. Domino’s or replacing gym workouts with studying, many students agree that they could have demonstrated better pre-exam practices. Even though students may have felt relief after their last exams, they may not have felt the same relief after stepping on a scale. Unfortunately, college students tend to lead more sedentary lives, especially around the time of exams, which can lead to unwanted weight gain. However, there’s no need to lose hope. One easy practice that requires little time and energy can help aid weight loss is simple: drinking water.

We’ve all heard about the eight cups a day rule, but how much are we actually drinking? According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day. With the cold climate rapidly approaching, we don’t feel as thirsty or sweat as excessively, but that doesn’t mean our bodies are any more hydrated. Although the human body requires at least eight cups a day to stay rejuvenated and drive efficient functioning of bodily organs, drinking water is also one of the easiest efforts students can incorporate into their weight loss or weight maintenance plan.

A popular belief about water involves its satiating qualities. Many diet and health books recommend drinking a glass of water before a meal or a social event, especially one that provides a wide assortment of food. The water ingested can make us feel fuller, explained by the way our bodies can mistakenly confuse the sensations of hunger with thirst. Located above the brain stem, the hypothalamus controls both hunger and thirst signals; therefore, when specific hormones are released as the stomach empties, we have trouble distinguishing what our bodies need: food or water. To solve this complication, try drinking a glass of water at the first indication of hunger before or after a meal. Rather than reaching for a snack right away, drink water and wait at least 15 minutes, as it might take that much time for the brain to tell the nervous system that the body was only thirsty. Reluctance to reach for a nosh can reduce the caloric intake of your diet. According to a study conducted at Virginia Tech, scientists followed a group of overweight subjects, ages 55 and up, on a low-calorie diet for three months. Half of these subjects were told to drink two cups of water before every meal and lost an average of 15.5 pounds, compared to an average of 11 pounds of the non-drinkers.

Most of the water in the body comes from our diet, 75 to 80 percent of it coming from fluids. It is our responsibility to maintain water balance, so try carrying around a refillable water bottle with you or set a goal to drink a cup of water or two at every meal. The taste of water may not always satisfy, but weight loss results definitely will.

By Allison Milch

Improve Your Night’s Sleep

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There is no doubt that those who succumb to the demands of modern day life have dealt with the effects of sleep deprivation. We go to bed too late and we wake up too early—in many cases, not by choice. Sleep is an extremely important function essential to cell generation, cognitive function, and basically every other bodily process. We need to sleep well, so how can we maximize the benefits of our night’s sleep when life can give us a fairly small window to hit the sack? Here are a few simple changes you can make to your bedtime routine to help ensure a better night’s sleep:

Check Your Pillow

Is your pillow too firm? Is it perhaps too soft? If your pillow is either, you may want to consider switching to one that lies somewhere in the middle. Your sleeping position should support the natural curvature of your spine, as supported by several research studies. This means that it’s important for you to find a pillow that supports your head in line with your spine, rather than holding it too high or sinking it too low. Doing so should certainly increase the quality of your night’s sleep, and your neck and back will thank you.

Avoid Screens

It’s important to stay connected to your social world, but if you’re checking your phone or on your computer too close to bedtime, you’re significantly decreasing your sleep quality. Blue light that is emitted from LED screens is received by your brain much like sunlight, interrupting your natural circadian rhythm, or biological clock. This produces a reaction in your body that makes it believe that it’s daytime, and therefore time to stay awake. Over time, this misplaced reaction can have serious health effects, at the very least it can lead to mild insomnia. It is recommended that you make your bedroom a place of pure darkness to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. If you must be on your computer after dark, try the red light converter app (https://justgetflux.com/), which converts your screen’s light to red light once the sun sets, eliminating the blue light problem and setting you up for a better night’s sleep.

Reduce Caffeine

It can be hard to avoid a cup of coffee or convenient energy drink when you feel the need for a daytime pick-me-up. However, if you’re consuming caffeine too close to the evening, you’re decreasing your ability to fall asleep and have a quality night’s rest. Once caffeine is consumed, it can take up to six hours to eliminate just half of its presence in your bloodstream. Caffeine is a stimulant and naturally blocks sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain, keeping you alert. This alertness delays that tired feeling that drives you to your bed. If you want to maximize the quality of your night’s sleep or fall asleep easier, it’s best to avoid caffeine several hours before bedtime.

Exercise

Daytime workouts have a significantly positive effect on nighttime sleep. Working out reduces the amount of stress that may be keeping you up at night while also lengthening slow-wave sleep, the deepest point of your sleep cycle. It is recommended to avoid working out within four hours before bedtime; however, exercising out of that time frame should certainly improve your ability to catch Z’s.

By Melissa Espinal

Mental Illness Misconceptions

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We all have those moments when we toss around a cliché phrase to keep the conversational ball rolling. Usually, despite its lack of originality, the phrase seems to serve its purpose. Doing so is perfectly normal; it’s a regular part of modern human nature. Sometimes, to identify with those around you, it’s easier to use an oftentimes well-received phrase that will get your point across. However, some of these cliché phrases are not so politically correct. Unfortunately, words used in these sayings can be hurtful, and their use can quite possibly undermine an entire population.

There are far too many expressions that people will say in order to make fun of themselves in a moment of weakness, or perhaps to highlight another person dealing with a similar situation. Often, they inadvertently target a minority population and say things based on misinformation. Many mental ailments are misinterpreted or thought of inaccurately because of these misleading cliché phrases. Here are a few examples that might help you re-evaluate your use of phrases that may misrepresent someone’s daily struggle:

“I have serious OCD; I always need everything to be in its place.”

A lot of the time, people will refer to their tendency toward cleanliness or their intolerance of germs as their own form of OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. You may feel a need to keep your closet color-organized or have to wash your hands 10 times a day, but you don’t have OCD simply because of these personality quirks. People struggling with OCD deal with much more than the stress that comes from something like an untidy room. They feel a deep, anxiety-provoking need to perform rituals based on their obsessive thoughts. These thoughts can range anywhere from fear of catching an illness to the idea that their whole family is going to die. These thoughts dominate their mind until they can find brief relief in the act of performing a ritual, such as washing their hands 20 times in a row or turning every light in their home on and off. It’s a tough life for them and each day brims with severe inner-conflict. If this doesn’t describe you, you do not have “serious OCD.”

“Every time I talk to her, she’s always in a different mood. She’s so bipolar.”

A person who is moody or “hot and cold,” as some would say, does not necessarily have the characteristics of bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness. Yes, manic-depressives do deal with mood changes, but they come in the form of episodes that last at least a week. This means extreme changes in mental state ranging from manic overexcitement to depressive hopelessness, hence its name. Their manic stages could make them extremely happy or extremely angry, while their depressive stages can often bring them deep into a mental black hole. Manic depression also comes with distressing changes in energy, sleep, and other aspects of behavior, making life very difficult for its sufferers and the people around them. 

“I can’t concentrate right now—I’m so ADD.”

This is certainly one of those phrases that people overuse. ADD, or medically termed ADHD, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is a disorder that remains present in the daily lives of its sufferers. People with ADHD deal with some combination of severe inattention, distractibility, and impulsivity, depending on which kind of ADHD they struggle with. It’s a complex disorder and requires the expertise of a highly-trained professional in order to diagnose. Those with ADHD tend to face many obstacles in their school, family, social, and professional lives due to their lack of self-control and self-discipline.

“You’re depressed? Why don’t you just do this to get yourself out of it?”

This is not so much a cliché phrase as it is a common misconception. Many people don’t understand the underlying truths of depression, otherwise known as major depressive disorder. A person who is diagnosed with depression is in a state that is much more complex than a period of the “blues.” It is very difficult to just someone to get out of a depression if he or she is truly in one. It is a mood disorder and has a physiological presence, meaning that you can see the effects of depression in a brain scan. It chemically affects its sufferers in a way that makes them feel that life is not worth living. When a person is depressed, it’s physically hard for them to get out of bed in the morning and face the day. It usually requires long-term treatment and interventions ranging from psychotherapy to medication. Depression can be very serious, so it’s important to be careful about how you approach someone suffering from it.

By Melissa Espinal

“Fall”-ing in Love With the Season

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It’s time to leave the dorm rooms, close the laptops, and take a step outside to embrace the coming season. Remember those weather reports about the expectation of snow in October? As a student at Syracuse University, ignore all of the warnings you’ve received from friends and family and take advantage of every minute you have with this gorgeous fall weather. The leaves on campus have started to change and that beautiful and slightly breezy 65-degree temperature allows us all to throw on some those sweaters and scarves we’ve been itching to break out. And who could forget that stupidly giddy feeling you get when Starbucks posts Pumpkin Spice Latte advertisements on its store windows or when you take a bite out of the first crisp Gala apple since last September?

We can associate certain sights, smells, and experiences with the arrival of fall. Yet, fall should also remind us of new beginnings and the hope of starting off the school year with a healthy mindset. Our strategies for transitioning into this time of year can consequently impact our attitude and our health. Unfortunately, researchers have observed a sedentary behavior trend in people that correlates with the shorter days and dropping temperatures. The caloric intake of people also tends to increase significantly this time of year, with people consuming roughly 200 calories more per day. John de Castro, a professor at the University of Texas, El Paso, claims that even the feast-centered holidays are not the blame of fall weight gain. Castro links increase in food consumption with biological factors: putting on weight in preparation for the potential winter famine our ancestors faced. Kurt Krauchi, a scientist at the Psychatric University Clinic in Basel, Switzerland explains his personal perspective while studying seasonal affective disorder patients. “There seems to be a relationship between light and depression, which leads to consumption of additional carbohydrates,” says Krauchi. During their depression in the winter, Krauchi’s patients ate more carbohydrates, sweets in particular but also starch-rich foods. Their intake could be minimized with light therapy.

As a result, it’s time for Syracuse to become more adventurous with its food choices this season. Dining halls have been serving delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables like cauliflower, sweet potatoes, squash, apples, and brussel sprouts. These interesting diet choices are rich in flavor and essential nutrients. For example, sweet potatoes are naturally sweet but they also provide us with calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Perhaps you didn’t know that brussel sprouts offer protection from vitamin A deficiency, bone loss, and iron-deficiency anemia, nor that pumpkins contain an amino acid proven to boost your mood. Some of these fresh foods can even help protect against diseases and conditions such as brussel sprouts with cardiovascular diseases, as well as colon and prostate cancer, and sweet potatoes with arthritis. Fall food preparation can benefit your taste buds and your health in the long run.

As you’re making your way outside today, look around at your scenic environment. Brainstorm a diet plan or activities centered around this gorgeous season. Invite your friends to go on an apple-picking trip, go for a bike ride, or try out a new recipe. As stressful as the beginning of the year may seem, it is important to make time for fall fun and healthy choices.

By Allison Milch

Hack Your Confidence

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Can I pull this off? Ugh, my legs are too stubby for this skirt. Are they looking at my hair? They probably see how frizzy it is today. Should I say something funny? Wow, I just sounded so ridiculous…

Thoughts like these may float through your head on a daily basis, undetected in the forefront of your mind. You probably brush them off, as they are just an everyday part of your inner dialogue. Sure you may feel uncertain of yourself sometimes, but how low can you go before you hit the proverbial pavement? It is perfectly normal to negatively self-analyze—we all do it—but when your self-talk begins to affect your well-being and hurt your confidence, it’s important to find ways to bring it back. Low confidence levels can be harmful in more ways than one, and can even damage your physical health. There comes a time when you need to fire up your willpower and commit to a few self-confidence-boosting strategies. Here are a few ways you can hack your confidence:

Surround yourself with positivity

Have you ever been caught in a negative thought spiral while at your favorite place or surrounded by your favorite people? Probably not. When you surround yourself by what makes you happy, whether that means going on a beautiful nature walk or spending quality time with your best friends, your mindset allows you to be content in the present. If you are in a happy place, it is easy to stave off negative thoughts. It especially helps if you’re around people who don’t let you forget how beautiful, funny, or talented you really are. The positivity you’ll receive will help remind you of how awesome you are, and how great it feels to love yourself.

Eliminate (or reduce) downers

Inversely, being around negative energy will only make you feel worse about yourself. There will always be a person in your life that’s on a mission to make everyone around them feel as low as they likely do, including you. It’s crucial that you identify these kinds of people and make an effort to avoid being around them when you don’t have to. You can do this by paying close attention to your attitude when you’re around another person. Are they always talking about their body issues? Are they always pointing out the flaws in others? Do they ever point out your flaws? If they are presenting a negative outlook on themselves and others, you are much more likely to begin doing the same. If they are not willing to support your journey toward self-confidence, kick that confidence-killer to the curb and keep walking.

Make a positivity list

When on any introspective mission, it always helps to make lists. Lists are a great way to organize your thoughts and compartmentalize your goals. When on a mission toward self-confidence, you may want to create a list of all of the great things you have going for you. What makes you smile? While you’re in a good mood, start listing everything that is going well in your life. Doing so will not only help you focus on the things that uplift you, it will also serve as a tool to use for any future low points. On days when you’re feeling especially unsure of yourself, you can always refer to your positivity list and remind yourself to keep your head held high.

Distract and diffuse

At some point or another, everybody goes through failure or finds himself or herself at the receiving end of a malicious remark. It is in these moments where it is especially important to protect your inner-confidence by distancing yourself from negative thoughts. Thought distraction is a simple start. Immerse yourself in an activity that will keep you busy, like running in the park or browsing funny videos online. Another way to get out of your head is through thought diffusion, which you can achieve through mindfulness and meditation techniques by focusing on your breath. Remain in the moment and tell yourself to accept the conditions around and within you. In doing so, you can find some very necessary silence for those self-defeating thoughts.

Fake it ‘til you make it

If all else fails, you can always fake your way to the confidence of your dreams. When you look at the mirror first thing in the morning, flash yourself a big smile and tell yourself, “You’re looking hot today.” Whether or not you believe it, keep doing it. Wear clothes that you always say you wish you could pull off. You can totally rock that outfit—put it on and strut out the door paying no mind. Walk with attitude. Even if you’re not feeling too hot, let those you pass think that you know you’re fabulous. Just be sure to keep on smiling; in fact, smile at everyone you see. They are very likely to smile back, making you feel good about yourself, or at the very least increasing the positive energy in the room. Doing little things like these will make a difference, and you’ll begin to notice that your confidence will start building naturally.

By Melissa Espinal

Sleep vs. the Freshman 15

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As college students, how often do people remind us about our potential to gain the “Freshman 15?” This warning bounced around my mind last weekend as I was studying with a floor mate for an upcoming biology exam. “If we get through one more chapter, we can break out that king-sized bag of Doritos in my closet!” Allie exclaimed at about 12:30 a.m. on a Friday night. I couldn’t believe how much my mouth watered at the thought of a savory, empty-calorie treat. My brain was fried after three hours of straight studying, and Doritos would serve as the perfect reward for my hard work, as well as a way to satiate my late night craving. I soon realized how regular this type of behavior is on college campuses, whether it’s snacking on packaged foods during night study sessions or ordering calzones after returning from a frat party. Obviously there are many factors that contribute to the Freshman 15, but the phenomenon of restless teen snacking at night can be a huge factor.

Late night meals bring up many critical issues regarding weight gain. To understand these issues, we can start out by assessing the Dorito-snacking scenario. First, eating Doritos at 12:30 a.m. indicated that bedtime was not far away, or at least within the next hour or two. Yet, this behavior contradicts a common piece of advice that we hear often: don’t eat before you go to sleep. In support of this claim, increases in body weight are caused primarily by changes in the rate at which metabolism functions during sleeping versus waking cycles. Our metabolism functions more rapidly during the day when we are relatively active, but it slows while we sleep. Unfortunately, the Doritos consumed before bed were metabolized and digested at a much slower rate, leading to potential weight gain.

Similarly, lack of sleep can also contribute to weight gain. In a study done by Harvard researchers involving 68,000 middle-aged women followed for 16 years, those who slept five hours or less each night were found to weigh 5.4 pounds more — and were 15 percent more likely to become obese — than the women who slept seven hours nightly. Clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Michael Breus stresses that as the average length of sleep in the U.S decreases, the average weight of Americans increases. Many researchers claim that possible changes in the hormones leptin and grehlin, which regulate appetite, contribute to Breus’ point. Leptin, made by adipose tissue, is secreted into the circulatory system where it travels to the hypothalamus to indicate when a person should eat less or stop eating. Like leptin, ghrelin goes into the blood, crosses the blood-brain barrier, and ends up at the hypothalamus. The only difference is that grehlin is secreted primarily in the lining of the stomach and tells someone when he or she is hungry. Short sleepers have lower levels of appetite-suppressing leptin and higher levels of ghrelin, which prompt an increase in caloric intake.

People eat at night for a variety of reasons, often ones that have little to do with hunger. As college students in particular, we must learn to manage our time in order to get an optimal amount of sleep and control our cravings before they get out of control.

By Allison Milch

How Much Do You Know About Gluten?

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Gluten is a term we hear everywhere we go. Most people associate this protein with bread, pasta, cake, cookies, and basically all of your delicious, carb-filled favorite foods. For those who don’t have Celiac Disease, gluten intolerances, or gluten sensitivities, a gluten-free diet seems almost unimaginable. How can people diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a condition in which consuming gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine, make this drastic transition in their diet from gluten-full to gluten-free?

Fortunately, with the rise of these diagnoses, the gluten-free market has become a $6.3 billion industry. Growing brands such as Glutino, Udis Gluten-free Foods, and Bob’s Red Mill replace wheat with alternatives such as rice, corn, sorghum, and tapioca flours. Other companies have also begun adding food labels that indicate which products of theirs are gluten-free, meaning that they contain only 20 parts per million of gluten. Celiac Disease is an inherited condition that affects an estimated 1 in 141 people in this nation’s population and consuming a diet that eliminates gluten provides them relief from symptoms and long-term complications.

But is gluten-free synonymous with “healthy?” People are starting to realize that successful gluten-free food companies are actually selling palatable foods and not the cardboard-tasting products some expected. Anyone can grab a gluten-free snack, but dieticians don’t recommend cutting out gluten from a diet unnecessarily. When most flours, breads, pasta, and breakfast cereals are rejected, so are important sources of B vitamins, iron, and fiber. In addition, remember that when you’re about to eat a gluten-free food, check the label: gluten-free does not mean “low calorie” or “low carb” either.

On the other hand, there are several advocates for the gluten-free diet. Although it is not entirely clear what causes fatigue in Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity, many people claim that after eating gluten-free food they feel much more energetic. Even Novak Djokovic, a well-known tennis player who in 2011 revealed that he had a gluten allergy, altered his diet and still posted a 64-2 winning record. Surprisingly, no studies have found that eliminating gluten leads to increased energy levels. For many individuals, cutting out gluten means increasing their total intake of fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods, and eating a well-balanced diet benefits everyone, gluten-free or not. The same logic applies with people who have lost weight as a result of the switch. Attempting to be gluten-free forces people to plan their diets more carefully and may improve the nutrient density of their food intake, as well.

All in all, fads don’t always apply to everyone. Celiac Disease and other related conditions are extremely serious, hence the prevalence of “cross-contamination” warning signs and strict health codes, another term you should become familiar with. Going forward, be sensitive to those who need special eating arrangements and assess the pros and cons of a new diet before giving up your current one cold turkey.

By Allison Milch

Eat Your Hangover Away

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Sunday morning: the time of day that a groan inevitably follows the realization that the weekend is coming to an end. While last night may have been quite an adventure—maybe you drank a little more than you should have—food is probably the last thing you want to think of, your head pounding and stomach aching. A hangover can make you regret the previous night and diminish any chance you have of being productive during the day; however, there are certain foods and beverages that can help soothe your pain. Be warned: they might not be what you expect.

The foods people typically crave when they’re hung over, like pizza, grilled cheese, toast, fries, and Sunday morning bagels (of course), are usually very high in carbohydrates and grease, and do not actually help them recover. When it comes to recuperating from a hangover, you need to hydrate your body and recover lost nutrients. The best foods to ease your struggle include things like eggs, bananas, asparagus, ginger, and spinach. Though you might think the high-carb, greasy foods will soak up the alcohol in your stomach and fill you up, these healthy alternatives are full of vitamins that can make you feel better. While you’re forcing down that difficult morning meal, drinks like coconut water and tomato juice can also work wonders on your body. Coffee and orange juice may be tempting, but the caffeine in coffee will continue to dehydrate your body and the acidity in OJ may not blend well with a sensitive stomach.

Though it’s undeniable that hangovers can feel awful, they are manageable if you know how to handle them. Eating the wrong meal with a hangover can make or break the rest of your day. With an already touchy tummy, one bad bite can send you straight to the trashcan. Asparagus and spinach may not seem as mouth-watering as a bagel in the morning, but they are well worth it. Your stomach will end up feeling much better, even after tossing back those shots the night before. More importantly, you won’t end up regretting your night and you’ll be well on your way for next weekend’s fun.

By Jessica Levy

Review: In Defense of Food

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I recently read a book for one of my classes called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, and it was one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. It focuses on the paradigm called “nutritionism” that America has fallen into.

Nutritionism is based off of the idea that a food is solely a sum of all its individual nutrients. Pollan describes how noticeable it is as you walk down the aisle of the grocery store: “Where the once familiar names of recognizable comestibles- things like eggs or breakfast cereals or snack foods- claims pride of place on the brightly colored packages crowding the aisles, now new, scientific-sounding terms like “cholesterol” and “fiber” and “saturated fat” began rising to large-type prominence.”

When I read this I couldn’t help but think, why is this a bad thing? America is becoming a more health conscious nation, which is a good thing, right? We are an unhealthy country, with our biggest killers being diet-related. But in this lay the paradigm: as we have grown more “health conscious,” we have become an even unhealthier nation. Separating nutrient from food has completely distorted our needs and priorities.

Pollan specifically talks about the low-fat fad. It was the biggest experiment in nutritionism history: the idea that dietary fat is responsible for chronic disease. He goes on to explain what an utter failure it was, and thirty years later we are even unhealthier.

All in all, Pollan boils down eating to seven basic words, which become the catch phrase of this fantastic book: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. It really is that simple, but he expands on it quite a bit. This book caused me to truly examine what I believe in regards to trusting scientists with my food choices and nutrition advice. It made me re-think my philosophy of food, but I believe it was for the better. I truly could go on forever about it, but I think it would be best if you heard it from him.

By Casie Popkin

4 Sleep Apps for a Better Slumber

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As college students, none of us have a regular sleep cycle. Sometimes we get to bed before 10 p.m., and well, sometimes we don’t. For those of you who would like to fall asleep every night as soon as your head hits the pillow, and wake up a little less groggy, check out these clever sleep apps created to help you do just that!

1. SleepCycle. This apps function is given away in its name. It is designed to literally help monitor and regulate your sleep patterns, allowing for a more normal cycle. It acts as a sleep alarm clock, deciding to wake you up when you are in a lighter sleep cycle than in a heavier one. It determines your sleep phase using the accelerometer built in to the iPhone, which can detect and record the amount of movement in your bed. Waking up in a lighter sleep phase will help you feel more rested, and lessen the desire for skipping that 9:30 class.

2. Sleep Pillow. As college students, it is tough to transition from our bed at school to our bed at home, and vice versa. Especially when it comes to the differences in background noise. If you are used to falling asleep to late-night chatter at school, the dead quiet can be hard to fall asleep to at home. This app provides a series of calming background sounds that create the perfect white noise to send you in to a slumber, from a babbling brook to ocean waves.

3. Yoga for Insomnia. This app allows you to get your ohm on before bed. It offers a variety of yoga poses and breathing exercises which help relax you and release some of the day’s tension from your body. The app offers lessons that range from beginner all the way to advanced for those who practice outside of the bedroom.

4. Sleepmaker Rain Free. Who doesn’t become sleepy on rainy days? This app provides sounds of rain falling on different things, from gutters, to canvas, to windows with a touch of wind. Sounds peaceful, huh? All the sounds come from real rain recordings, that have been proven to help even children and infants fall asleep!

By Aisling Williams

Is It for the Long Run?

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imageIn college some relationships are just fun flings while others are in it for the long hall. Many times you know what you are getting into right from the start. However, other times, you may actually have no idea. It’s a scary and nerve wracking conversation to have with the other person. The where do we stand conversation. You know what you want them to say but is it what they themselves want to say? Well there are a few keys signs to help you try to know what is coming from this conversation. These signs help to distinguish those who will go the distance from those who just want to have fun.

1. A person who is in it for the long run won’t mind being the one to text first most of the time. The fun one will complain about it.
2. A person who is in it for the long run wants to know what you want in the future, and is willing to work your wants into theirs. A fun one won’t even bother to ask, why would it matter to them?
3. A person who is in it for the long run wants to actually talk to you. I mean know your opinions, know about your life, really get to know the real you. A fun one will only want to talk about superficial stuff like “hey, did you catch that show last night?” That’s okay sometimes but that is all they will talk about.
4. A person who is in it for the long run will know what you’re feeling or thinking even when you lie. They will know if fine doesn’t really mean fine or okay doesn’t mean you’re okay. A fun one won’t push your answer, they might not even ask the question.
5. A person who is in it for the long run will enjoy movie and dinner nights and just staying in. They will enjoy spending time with just you just hanging out. A fun one would rather go out and hook up with you at the end of the night.
6. A person who is in it for the long run will want to be seen with you: in public, with their friends, anywhere. A fun one probably will only want to be seen with you in a party scene.
7. A person who is in it for the long run will let you do funny things like steal their sweatshirts. A fun one won’t let you even stay in their room long enough to see wear the sweatshirts are.
8. A person who is in it for the long run will be honest with you, whether it is good or bad. They will tell you when you aren’t funny or even when you aren’t looking too hot. A fun one will whatever most things. Fake laugh at your not so funny jokes or say whatever to how you look.
9. A person who is in it for the long run won’t feel the need to snoop on you. They won’t look through your phone or log on your social media. They will trust you. A fun one will be constantly nervous that you are on the lookout for someone new. They will constantly be self-conscious.
10. Finally, a person who is in it for the long run will not be surprised by this “Where are we?” conversation. They will be relieved and make it easy. A fun one will be shocked and brush it off as if it means nothing and never happened.

While these signs are not the end all be all to if you are in it for fun or for a long-term deal, they are some signals that may get you thinking. This way when you go to have the “What is this?” conversation you can have an idea of what is coming. You will have an idea of what to expect.

By Samantha Breault

What to do Before the Semester Ends

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With about a month of the semester – and the school year – left to go, it’s time to start thinking about tying up any loose ends with classes and making lasting memories with friends. Think of this as a to-do list, or even a sort of bucket list if you will. For some of you, you’re counting the days until you can be reunited with friends from home or vacation with your family. But once you’re gone, you might find that you miss the home away from home you’ve made here at SU.

Academic:
• Turn in any extra credit assignments if your grade looks like it could use a boost.
• Start thinking about finals and plan a study schedule. Begin working on any final projects or essays that you may have.
• Fill out the FAFSA. Yep, it’s that time of year again. If you want to be eligible for financial aid next year, make sure you get this done!
• Start thinking about what you’re going to do with all the stuff that’s accumulated in your room. You might want to ship some of it home early or secure a storage space.
• Start planning for summer jobs and internships! While lounging around your parents’ house all summer may seem ideal, you’ll get bored pretty quickly. Earn some extra cash from a summer job.

Fun:
• Go for a walk. It’s starting to get a little warmer around ‘Cuse, so why not take the opportunity to explore the city while enjoying nature? Head to Westcott Street, have a picnic in Thornden Park, or even just explore the areas of campus you haven’t seen before. Check out ESF or take the hike up to the Mount if you haven’t yet.
• Relax on the quad. You might’ve seen people sleeping with their face in a textbook or chilling in hammocks before, but how many of you have actually taken the opportunity to do so yourself? Sure, everyone stares at you as they walk past – but who cares? Get out of the stuffy library and study outside. Just make sure the grass is dry first!
• Do something you’ve wanted to do all year, but haven’t yet. Maybe you’ve always wanted to see a play, try pilates, or visit somewhere in the city. You don’t want to leave campus with any regrets, no matter how small they may be.
• Check out your new room! By now most of you should’ve selected your rooms for next year. Head on over to your new dorm or apartment, knock, and ask whoever lives there now to let you in for a quick tour. Trust me; they’ll probably be friendly and willing to help you out.

By Caleigh Gran

Well That Was Awkward…

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We’ve all had them or will have them at some point in our lifetime. What am I talking about? Well, the inevitable infamous awkward hookup of course! Now, I’m not talking about the really bad hookup, I’m talking about one that went well but you have to see that person again and again. These hookups don’t have to be as awkward as we make them. Many times things can go on just fine, we just make them stranger than they need to be. Here are some tips on how to keep these hookups just hookups and not awkward.

Don’t Change How You Act
If you’ve never really gone out of your way to say “hello” to this person before, don’t do it now. If you always say “hey” when you see them, keep it up! Don’t switch how you’ve always acted around this person. A lot of times people change and it makes everything more awkward than it has to be. If you keep your relationship normal then chances are no one will ever know what happened. Everything will appear normal, keeping the awkward scale on the lower end.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid
Ok, so this hook up happened. Sometimes it’s better just not to talk about the fact that it happened. This means between the two of you and with others. First rule in avoiding the awkwardness is don’t tell anyone else what happened. If you want to keep it to a minimum do not spread it around so that everyone else can stare and be awkward and make you feel even more awkward. Next, ever think that not talking about your hookup with your hookup could help alleviate the awkwardness. Yes, we all know this hookup was fun and great but you don’t necessarily need to tell the other person that. Sometimes not talking about it may just make the awkwardness disappear. I’m not saying act like it never happened but don’t make a whole conversation off of it. That just is a buzz kill on keeping it normal no matter what.

Let It Be
The more you keep questioning it the more awkward it will be. It happened. That’s it. There is nothing you can do about it. If it was a good hookup, great! If not, oh well! We tend to hold on to these things and let them consume us for far too long. If we could just let them go and accept them as things that have happened, we would be able to avoid almost all of the awkwardness. Just let it be. I promise you, it will make a world of difference!

So while some awkwardness will always come along with these situations it does not need to get over the top. If we just accept what happened and try our best to act and stay normal then there should be no issues. If you are mature enough to get into this situation you have to be mature enough to handle it. So handle it wisely and it won’t turn into an awkward, inescapable nightmare. It could be just what it is: a hookup that didn’t change a thing.

By Samantha Breault

End The Trend Of Woman On Woman Hate

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While perusing the latest posts on Thought Catalog, I came across one that stuck with me. Entitled “29 Worst Things About Being Female” by Alexandra Venema, Venema considers some of the issues that women face today that seemingly men don’t have to worry about. Her first reason, the “lack of camaraderie between women,” really stuck with me.

Why is it that men seem to have no issue being friends with each other while women just can’t? Competition seems to be the root of the problem here. Men, competitive by nature tend to keep it to sports. Do they get insecure about their appearances and/or body sometimes? Of course! However, that insecurity usually isn’t translated into treating their peers, or even their friends, like they’re less than they are. While with women, it’s typical to hear hateful comments on the regular that stem from jealousy, even among close friends.

From young ages, girls are taught that how much people like you and how successful you are in life is directly correlated to how good-looking you are. That reason alone is enough to figure out why so many women hate on other women just for being up to a certain standard of beauty. It’s not uncommon to hear girls ripping apart other girls verbally just for being pretty.

Now that I’m done pointing out the obvious, I’ll let you in on my concern. In a world so up-and-coming in the department of equal rights for women, women should be more open and forgiving with one another. When it comes down to problems such as being paid more or issues regarding sexism, men can’t and won’t understand what we’re going through. While they can be helpful in our pursuit, they aren’t the answer. If our goal is to be treated as equally as the men in our lives, we need to take a cue from them and the way they handle their relationships with each other.

Instead of hating on the woman who looks good in that dress you almost bought but didn’t, tell her she looks good in it. Making little steps such as this will definitely reduce some of the drama that our gender is known for. Some of the best relationships I have are with women and I know that if they were replaced with a man, while they might still be fulfilling and meaningful, they wouldn’t be as honest as they are right now. Women relate to women on levels that opposite sexes just can’t. Next time you find yourself letting jealousy ruin your perception you thought was nice regardless of your newfound insecurities, take a step back and realize that she probably has insecurities too and you wouldn’t want to be disliked for that. Again with golden rule, treat others as you want to be treated.

By Casie Popkin

Healthy or Hazardous? : 3 Things We Once Thought Were Healthy

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Over the years, many there have been many products advocated that initially were deemed healthy, but then turned out to be just the opposite. We have been in this vicious cycle for years, as new things are discovered daily. Well, here are three items that historically were viewed as healthy at first, but now are seen as dangerous for our bodies.

  1. Cigarettes. Back in the day, these were quite the ticket item. They even had the endorsement of doctors, if you can believe that. Tobacco companies were behind physicians advocacy, like Lucky Strike who schemed with advertising executives. The companies knew that in those days (the 1920’s), people put full trust in their doctors. In the 1930’s health concerns about the product arose, the companies took greater action by actually having doctors featured in ads for cigarettes. It wasn’t until 1964 that the Surgeon General’s Warning first came on to cigarette packages linking them to cancer.
  1. Cocaine. Cocaine is one of the oldest stimulants on the market to date, which actually came from natural origins. The drug is derived from the coca leaf, which used to be chewed by Peruvian tribes during religious ceremonies. It was advocated by Hollywood celebrities in the early 1900’s who believed it to be a miracle drug. Sigmund Freud also endorsed cocaine largely, believing the drug could cure sexual impotence and depression. Turns out, it does just the opposite. The stimulant causes such a high that a person coming off of it can easily slip in to a depression, which naturally makes them crave the drug.
  1. Soda. Despite its negative connotations now, soda was also viewed to possess health benefits during its introduction. In the early 1800’s, pharmacists added herbs and medicines to the product and sold them as a health drink. Ginger ale was first sold in 1851 in Ireland. Then cola came around thirty years later, becoming a national symbol for America. These days, we know that soda is linked to diabetes and obesity, as well as certain types of cancer.

By Aisling Williams

Easy Exercises For Spring Break Abs

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In two weeks this campus will be basically empty for spring break. Going back to New Jersey doesn’t really give me any bikini time, but just because I’m unlucky doesn’t mean all of you are! Some of you will go home where it’s warm and some of you will go on vacation. Here are some easy exercises for spring break abs.

1. Bicycle Crunches: Lie face-up on the ground or a mat of your choice with your hands behind your head, supporting it. Start to bring your right elbow to your abdomen along with your left leg. Replace and repeat with your left elbow and your right leg. That’s one. Do three sets of sixteen.

2. Plank: Start with your face toward the ground, resting on your forearms and your palms flat. Push off onto your toes and ball your palms into fists, but keep your forearms on the ground, all shoulder-width apart. Make sure your back remains flat and your butt doesn’t stick into the air. Hold for sixty seconds. Do five sets.

If you are at a gym or have equipment available to you, adding a regular exercise ball to crunches can be very effective. Standing on a bosu ball while doing squats also engages your core because of how hard it can be to balance.

By Casie Popkin

Fight the Fad Diets

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South Beach Diet, Adkins diet, the cookie diet, the juice diet, the raw food diet. All of these are examples of “fad diets.” They are all the rage, claiming millions of success stories and guaranteed results. Then they fade out and you don’t hear about them anymore, until the next one pops up. The truth is, you want to stay far away from these fad diets because if they sound too good to be true, they most likely are. They make unrealistic and unsustainable claims that will only serve to hurt you in the long run. Here’s how to know what’s real and what’s just a trend.

Fast, Drastic Weight Loss

Most of these diets promote dropping a lot of weight in a short span of time, but gradual and steady weight loss is the key to success! This will increase your chances of keeping it off. Also, losing too much too fast can also result in muscle, bone, and water loss. Aim for ½ pound to 1 pound per week.

No moderation necessary

A lot of diets will restrict you from certain foods, but then allow you to eat as much as you want of others. This will not only become boring with time, therefore causing you to give up, but you will also miss out of key nutrients. Everything is allowed in a diet with moderation!

Specific Food Combinations

There is no scientific evidence that has shown that eating certain foods at certain times of the day or in combination with other foods will help with weight loss. Do not fall into the traps that claim they will.

No Need to Exercise

This is probably the biggest downfall of them all. Diet and exercise go hand in hand: you cannot have a healthy diet without 30-60 minutes of exercise at least every other day each week. The good news is, they go hand in hand! Usually if you begin to exercise and get your endorphins pumping, you will feel more motivated to eat right. Then, you will see results over time, which will encourage you to keep exercising.

Overall, they key to the perfect “diet” is actually not a diet, but a lifestyle change. Don’t worry about perfecting it right away, either. Small, sustainable changes are the key. Recognize that slip-ups do occur, and they are allowed! Don’t be too hard on yourself and truly believe that with time and persistence, these healthy habits will be second nature.

The “Munchies” Unmasked

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Whether you’ve said it out loud or not, you’ve always wondered it—what causes the munchies? With more states progressively legalizing marijuana, the question is becoming all the more relevant. Studies have recently uncovered the true science behind it.

Let’s begin with hunger. Our hunger is regulated by two hormones, ghrelin and leptin. The chemicals usually secrete from fat cells that then are sent to our brain’s hypothalamus, where it is processed as “hungry” or “full”. However, a recent study completed by European neuroscientists uncovered the answer to the fundamental question. When marijuana is smoked, the chemical THC is what effects our brain and feelings. Apparently their study proved that THC actually attaches to the brain’s olfactory bulb, a sector of the brain designated for any smell sensation.

So why does it make you hungry?

The brain already has a built-in set of receptors known as endocannabinoids, which control appetite amongst a slew of other sensations. The chemical THC intensifies those receptors, fitting in to our normal neural pathway and amping up the drive for hunger largely. Since the feeling hits the mecca of our sensations, we are bound to want to eat, regardless of whether we are hungry or not.

The scientists concluded that THC mediates our hunger through amplifying our reaction to smell, regardless of whether our body is actually hungry or not.

Guess that’s why they call it the munchies

By Aisling Williams

Is Your Stuff The Key To Your Heart?

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We’ve all been there, the awkward break up or end to a
long-term hook up.  The feeling that you really just don’t want to see the person again, at least for a long time.  But there are always those feelings that feel like they are left open ended.  No matter how small there are those little annoying feelings that don’t go away.  Here’s where things get even worse.  You realize that other person still has some of your stuff.  Whether it is something as small as a hair clip or a sweatshirt, it still means something.  So why don’t you just ask for it back?  Just say I want my stuff back, it should be easy.  However, sometimes those five words are a lot harder to say than you expected.

While the other person still has your stuff there is an open line of communication.  You may not be using it but you know you always have something that you can talk to them about again.  However, once you get your stuff back, that’s it.  The line has been disconnected.  If you are really done and ready to shut your feelings out then it is easy to ask for your stuff back.  You’re ready to walk away and cut that line.  When you aren’t ready to be done it becomes harder to make the move.  You keep putting off asking for things back.  Those things keep the line of communication open as well as keep a part of you with them.  At this point our stuff becomes more than just stuff, it becomes a part of the relationship that is still in tact.  The part that hasn’t yet fallen apart.  If your stuff is gone sometimes you fear that the memory of you is gone as well.  We all know that when you look at something someone left you think about some of the times you shared, it’s hard not to.  When your stuff is still there so is a part of you.

Maybe your stuff is a way of telling you if you are really over someone.  If you are asking for your stuff back is nothing more than a simple question.  However, if there is even the slightest glimmer of hope that question becomes something to keep putting off.  So, are you ready to cut the line of communication and ask for your stuff back or do you want to keep it open?  It’s up to you to decide, and who would have thought that your stuff could help you figure that out.

By Samantha Breault

Book Review: In Defense of Food

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I recently read a book for one of my classes called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, and it was one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. It focuses on the paradigm called “nutritionism” that America has fallen into.

Nutritionism is based off of the idea that a food is solely a sum of all its individual nutrients. Pollan describes how noticeable it is as you walk down the aisle of the grocery store: “Where the once familiar names of recognizable comestibles — things like eggs or breakfast cereals or snack foods — claims pride of place on the brightly colored packages crowding the aisles, now new, scientific-sounding terms like “cholesterol” and “fiber” and “saturated fat” began rising to large-type prominence.”
When I read this I couldn’t help but think, why is this a bad thing? America is becoming a more health conscious nation, which is a good thing, right? We are an unhealthy country, with our biggest killers being diet-related. But in this lay the paradigm: as we have grown more “health conscious,” we have become an even unhealthier nation. Separating nutrient from food has completely distorted our needs and priorities.

Pollan specifically talks about the low-fat fad. It was the biggest experiment in nutritionism history: the idea that dietary fat is responsible for chronic disease. He goes on to explain what an utter failure it was, and thirty years later we are even unhealthier.

All in all, Pollan boils down eating to seven basic words, which become the catch phrase of this fantastic book: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. It really is that simple, but he expands on it quite a bit. This book caused me to truly examine what I believe in regards to trusting scientists with my food choices and nutrition advice. It made me re-think my philosophy of food, but I believe it was for the better. I truly could go on forever about it, but I think it would be best if you heard it from him.

By Katy Davis

Is Paleo Right for You?

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I’m very into health and nutrition and have certainly heard of the Paleo Diet. But I was never clear on what it exactly is. If you’re just as curious as I was, read what I am about to share with you about this healthful diet.

The Paleo Diet is based on eating wholefoods from the groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era. There is a long list of foods acceptable on this diet, but this is not simply another diet, it’s a new lifestyle to grasp. You really have to pay attention to everything you put into your body and consciously think about your decisions. The Paleo approved list:

  • Fresh meats (generally grass-fed or organically raised without hormones or antibiotics are preferred)
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Seeds
  • Raw nuts
  • Healthy oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseeds)

Foods not acceptable on this diet:

  • Dairy products
  • Cereal grains
  • Legumes
  • Refined sugars
  • Processed foods
  • Starches (no white potatoes, but sweet are fine)

Our ancestors didn’t’ consume any of the above foods and lived a very healthful life, which means that this diet is likely extremely beneficial to us. There are diseases this diet is known to potentially fight off: obesity, cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis), type 2 diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, acne, eye problems, Gout, varicose veins.

So if you’re seriously considering trying a Paleo Diet, definitely do your research and thoroughly plan your shopping list. A good book on the Paleolithic Diet do’s and don’ts could always come in handy, too.

By: Sarah Richheimer

You May Want To Write This Down

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These days, note taking in our classes is mainly done on laptops, with notebooks few and far between. It’s quicker and more organized, right? Though it may allow for more organized and neat notes that can be shared among classmates with ease, laptops may not be the best choice for an academic setting.

Studies have shown that students who still use pen and paper to record class notes have a better memory as well as an easier time retaining and understanding concepts. So, for those of you whom prefer the old-fashioned way of note taking, it may be helping your academic performance!

The study was done after it was reported that over 50 percent of college students use their laptops in class for note taking at least once a week.

The first study had a group of college students listen to two lectures, taking notes in the way they normally would. They were then tested on the material covered in the two lectures, a half hour later. The findings showed that both groups of students could memorize the same amount of facts, but those who took handwritten notes greatly outperformed the laptop users when they were tested on ideas. Why? Scientists believe that those who typed their notes took notes verbatim, which affected their learning negatively.

Then, a second group of students were tested given the same scenario, but instead were tested on the material a week later, giving them time to review. The students who hand wrote their notes still performed significantly better than those who typed theirs. Those who typed were even suggested to not to note take word for word, and yet they still did. Scientists think that typing your notes triggers more mindless processing, where handwriting them allows students to think beyond just listening and writing.

So, perhaps dust off that old notebook that you bought freshman year and never ended up using. It could have greater use than you think.

By Aisling Williams

Feel Summer-Level Energy, Even When It’s Below Zero

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I previously posted about the effect of S.A.D, or Season Affective Disorder. Right now, when it’s almost spring, but we know nothing warmer than 40 degrees is making its way to Syracuse, it can be kind of hard to not only walk all over campus to class, but to get out of bed. Being cold makes us irritable and definitely more tired. Ever notice how you seem to get cold when you get sleepy enough to nap? Yeah. Me too.

Well, here are some ways to get your energy up even when the temperatures are very, very low.

1. Walking from class to class in the cold might not be your idea of fun, but have you ever noticed how awake you are when you finally reach your destination? That’s right. Simply walking for ten minutes a day can give you up to two hours of extra energy.

2. Next time you’re sitting in the library feeling like you might doze off, pull up a funny video instead. Laughing wakes you up while letting you stay comfortable, instead of making you drowsy.

3. Need an extra boost before you head out for class? Pour some chia seeds into your morning yogurt. Chia seeds are packed with Vitamin B, fiber, and protein, which are all good for an energy and good for your diet!

By Casie Popkin

Tips to Prevent an Awkward Date

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Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 10.01.34 PMAfter Valentine’s Day there are probably plenty of new sets of lovebirds around campus. Whether you’re in the awkward getting-to-know-you stage or transitioning from a friendship into a relationship, there’s bound to be some awkward moments between you and your new beaux. To alleviate that awkwardness or even to avoid it altogether, follow these tips and it’ll be smooth sailing from here on out.

 

  1. Keep the conversation going! Ever hear of ‘awkward silence?’ Don’t be shy; just say the first things that come to mind. Ask questions to get to know more about them.
  2.  Make a plan. Nothing’s more of a turn off then having the “I don’t know, what do you wanna do?” conversation…over and over again.
  3. Dress appropriately. C’mon ladies, don’t show up to the movie theater in the sexiest outfit you own. Destiny USA is pretty awesome, but unfortunately it’s not a night club. Don’t be that girl.
  4. Don’t come on too strong. You don’t want your date to think you’ve already started on the wedding plans.
  5. Don’t act too disinterested. It’s perfectly okay to act cool and casual, but it’s important your date knows that you’re listening to them and care about what they have to say.
  6. Don’t reveal any secrets just yet. The first date is probably not the best time to tell your entire life story. It is way more rewarding to learn as you go.
  7.  Be kind. If your date makes plans to do something that isn’t really your cup of tea, just go with it. Otherwise you’ll seem ungrateful and possibly demanding. And who knows, you might even end up liking what he has planned.
  8.  Physical contact. The first time you hold hands or cuddle together is most likely going to be awkward, but just relax and be confident. The sweaty palms can be ignored! If it doesn’t feel right, then think about reconsidering the relationship.
  9. The tab. Ladies, never assume your date is going to pay for your dinner…and the movie…and everything else…. Have plenty of money on you just in case. Always offer to pay, even though you most likely won’t have to contribute anything more than the tip.
  10.  The first kiss. This depends on personal preference, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t get that kiss at the end of the night. Keep an open mind and stay positive.

Hopefully those tips will help you avoid experiencing awkward dates. If it does end up being awkward or doesn’t go as well as you had wanted, at least you’ll know that it wasn’t your fault. And remember, the dating stage is fun and exciting – it’s something you’ll only get to experience once with that special someone – so enjoy it!

By Caleigh Gran

The Truth About Weekend Weight Gain

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It’s finally Friday. After a long week of classes, all any college student wants to do is lie in bed, watch Netflix, eat pizza and drink sugary beverages. It becomes so easy to gain weight over the weekend between the lack of activity and poor eating habits. However, a new study done by Cornell reveals that it’s okay to indulge over the weekend if you want to maintain or lose weight. The most important thing to remember is to eat healthy during the weekdays.

The study examined 80 adults ranging from 25-62 years old for a period of days ranging from 15 to 330 days. The participants were told to weigh themselves at the start of each day to track weight fluctuation. After the study was conducted, adults who lost weight were adults who reported that they let themselves indulge over the weekend. These same adults also reported that their weight was highest on Sunday and Monday and lowest on Fridays. Adults who gained weight reported that their weight did not fluctuate over the week.

The findings of this study are consistent with previous studies that have discovered that weight management does not come from restricting food from a diet, but from allowing room for short-term splurges.

With this new information in mind, don’t feel bad if you indulge a little or don’t want to go to the gym over the weekend. However, make sure that when Monday comes around, you’re ready to resume a healthy diet and lifestyle.

By Alison Pang

8 Valentine’s Day Ideas

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It’s almost that time of year again, where if you’re single, you want the day to disappear, and if you’re coupled off, you can’t wait. Its Valentines Day — the holiday of love.

If you’re sick of the same old same old, try to get your man to do one of these ideas:

Reenact your first date: Throwback to your first date. Eat at the same restaurant and order the same food. Go back to where the love began!

Get Physical: Not “that” physical. This type of physical could be going to an amusement park, going water skiing or tubing. When you get those endorphins flowing, it’s proven to leave you both in loving moods.

Go for a massage: What woman would ever turn down a massage? None. Booking a couples massage would make both of you less tense, relaxed and set the mood just right for the day.

Be homebodies: Just chill at home together with no distractions: no phones, computers or answering the doors. Just you and your man with some peace and quiet–even order in some pizza and just enjoy the day.

24 hours of chocolate: Chocolate is the typical V-Day sweet. And there is nothing wrong with that. But have some fun with it; take your woman out to a few different dessert places and pick fun chocolate options at each! Show her your sweetness all day long.

Get away: If money allows, go on a weekend getaway or even a night away, somewhere far, far away. Make sure to give your girl options of places you’re thinking about going to so she can take time off of work.

Dress up: Make a dinner reservation somewhere nice and fancy—so that you and your woman can dress up. Dressing up always makes the time together special and you both look good!

Cook her dinner: Make the day all about her. Make her breakfast in bed, give the roses and heart shaped chocolate, cook her a nice dinner with some candles. Show your love and appreciation for her.

By Sarah Richheimer

Dealing with Iron Deficiency

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Iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency in the United States. It is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. So the phrase “pumping iron” is accurate, but you don’t need to hit the gym to do it, you just need to breathe!

When your body does not absorb enough iron, you can develop iron deficiency anemia. This means that not enough red blood cells with adequate hemoglobin can be made. Therefore, oxygen and carbon dioxide cannot be transported efficiently. This can cause fatigue, weakness, dizziness, pale skin and fingernails, headache, and an inflamed tongue.

This mineral deficiency is most commonly found in the following populations:

  • Young children: As babies grow rapidly, their iron needs increase and must be met by breast milk and infant formula
  • Adolescent girls: This is another time of rapid growth that increases iron needs
  • Women of childbearing age: This is because of our little friend that visits every month. Women lose iron as a result of their menstrual cycles, and this puts them at constant risk of deficiency
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding: Because they are eating and metabolizing for two (or more!), iron needs increase in this stage of life

This “common” deficiency shouldn’t be so common, though, because iron is easy to get, and yummy! The best sources of iron are from animal sources because our bodies absorb 2-3 times more of it than iron from plant sources. This includes lean beef, turkey, chicken, lean pork, and fish. If you stay away from animals, though, have no fear! You can still get adequate amounts of non-heme iron, which is a fancy word for iron from plant sources. These foods are great sources of non-heme iron:

  • Beans, including pinto, kidney, soybeans and lentils
  • Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Enriched rice
  • Whole-grain and enriched breads

Because our bodies naturally absorb more iron from animal sources, you can increase absorption from plant sources by eating more vitamin C (see last weeks post!).

Overall, the most important thing is eating a variety of foods to ensure you get adequate amounts of all vitamins and minerals, not just iron. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and the benefits could go a long way!

By Katy Davis

How To Get Rid Of Cramps Without Pain Medication

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Being a girl sucks. Not only do we have to deal with the looming future of motherhood – should you decide that’s what you want – but we also have to deal with monthly periods until we’re in our 50s. Along with all the nasty things that come along with Mother Nature’s gift, some girls get cramps. These cramps can be minor, the kind that go away if you move your body in a different position, or they can be so painful that they’re physically exhausting and when the pain subsides, all you can do as a victim to this is sleep.

Here are some ways to rid yourself of just one more way the world tries to bring us women down without taking any prescription or non-prescription pain pills;

1. Exercise. I know this probably sounds stupid. You’re in pain and you can’t even lie down comfortably, let alone go work out, but it’s true. While your body is retaining the amount of water that it does during your period, working out helps to release some of that pressure building.

2. Place a heated water bottle or pad on your abdomen. Really don’t feel like moving? Find a hot water source and lie it on your stomach or lower back. As cold helps burns, heat tends to help with soreness.

3. If all else fails, talk to your doctor about birth control. Taking a daily pill might not be your thing, but if nothing else seems to work, the pill might be your answer.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside, But You’re Losing Weight Too

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Despite the extremely cold temperatures and tons (literally) of snow, there is some good that has come from this weather. I know it’s hard to believe, but stick with me here. Studies have shown that colder temperatures may actually help you drop a few pounds, which is beneficial when you’re already wearing six layers.

How does it work?

Well, according to research done in the Netherlands, in cold temperatures our bodies produce something called brown fat. This brown fat burns heat, helping to actually eat away at white fat in our bodies, or burning energy stored from good. Naturally, this diminishes overall fat content and allows us to lose a little weight.

The study noted that those who are thinner have more brown fat than those who are overweight or elderly. Also, if our body adjusts to living in colder temperatures, our body produces more brown fat. How wonderful it is to live in a place like Syracuse!

In the study, participants were adjusted to cooler temps over time, spending an average of six hours per day in the cold for 10 days. By the end of the study, participants had more brown fat in their bodies and shivered less at 59 degrees. Students at SU would be wearing shorts in 59 degrees, just saying.

So, as you sit growling at the sight of your breath in the air every day, just think—you could be building up brown fat, and more enticing, losing weight!

By Aisling Williams

Make Your Valentine’s Day a Bit Sweeter

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Cupcakes and chocolate may taste even sweeter this Valentine’s Day if you’re in love. A recent study shows that people who wrote about a personal experience of love before eating different types of candies ranked sour and bitter candies as sweeter than those who wrote about an experience where they felt jealousy. Even water tasted sweeter to those who talked about an experience of love before drinking or eating.

The study found that feelings of love do not affect the receptors of the tongue, but that taste buds are linked to the brain and make us more conscious of what we taste. Because of this, the brain can process tastes of foods differently depending on one’s mood, and confirms why people thought that even water tasted sweeter.

On the flip side, feelings of jealousy or depression can not only affect how you taste foods, but also have a direct effect on how much you eat. Various other studies have shown that feeling depressed or stressed can impair the amount of food eaten because of how food tasted. People who were depressed were unable to properly taste fatty foods, leading them to be unsatisfied with what they were eating and resulting in them eating more.

This Valentine’s, make an effort to remember a moment you felt loved. It may not only make your sweet treats taste a little sweeter, but also brighten up your day.

By Alison Pang

Apps for Students

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​Most of us are all well aware of how glued we are to our phones and computer screens. We would be lost without them to provide a constant source of quick communication, entertainment, and information. We depend on them. With that said, as students there are certain applications available for iPhones and androids that will help integrate our schoolwork with technology. And I’m not talking about the obviously-necessary GoogleMaps, email, and textbook search engines. Essentially, the following are some apps made to make students’ lives better.

-BlackBoard: We’re all familiar with BlackBoard because it is one of the main platforms through which SU teachers can communicate with students and post homework assignments. However, some may not know that there is an app for BB that offers several customizable options. For example, you can change the colors of each class to distinguish them apart from one another and set certain ones as “favorites.” You can even get updates sent straight to your phone every time a grade is added.
-Grubhub: This app is perfect for foodies and starving college students. At any time and at any place in Syracuse you can use the map to find out which restaurants are open and delivering, and place your order straight from your phone in a matter of seconds. Convenience at its finest.
-Blogilates: There are tons of great fitness apps out there but one that’s especially fun, engaging, and informative is Blogilates. It’s created by a fitness expert who also makes YouTube videos. She has all her videos categorized on the app as well as meal plans and tips. Many of her workouts are to fun songs and target specific areas you’d want to work on.
-Sleep if U Can: This is an alarm clock app – which as we all know is crucial to making it to class on time every morning. What makes it special, however, is that in order to turn the alarm off you have to take a picture of an object that you have previously chosen. If you set it to be a picture of your refrigerator, then you have to get up out of bed and take the picture to turn it off. Genius, right?
-Self-control: This app is an organizer and to-do list of sorts. You can set alarms to things that you need to get done and create a calendar around your busy schedules. You can attach emotions and notes to each activity as you do them as well.

By Caleigh Gran

Do You Need Your Multivitamin?

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Do you take a multivitamin? Or maybe you don’t take one yourself, but you’ve considered them before or you know someone who is a religious vitamin taker.

Taking a multivitamin is all up to personal feelings and preference. I remember when I was younger and went to the doctor’s every year for my checkup, she would always reassure me to take my multivitamin.

I would ask my doctor why she thought it was necessary to take them and she’d say that they are simply an extra form of protection to keep you healthy and make sure you get all your required daily vitamins. However, my question was always: What if I eat a really balanced diet already? Why is there a need to supplement? Isn’t there a possibility of getting too much of some vitamins then? This is why I feel taking a vitamin very much depends on who you are and how you live your life and choose to eat.

I’ve done a lot of research on the topic of vitamin supplementation myself because it interests me. I feel that some people need to supplement their diets with certain vitamins they may not be getting; for example, a vegetarian or vegan may not get the required iron needed daily or calcium since these nutrients are found in meats and dairy products. Hence, supplementation may be needed.

I feel if you eat healthy most of the time, and are physically active as well, your daily required nutrients should come from your diet. Natural sources of nutrients are always smarter and safer.

In a major review of 31 vitamins and minerals, experts discovered that high levels of beta-carotene and zinc may have irreversible harmful effects when taken over a long period. There were also concerns that high doses of vitamin C, calcium and iron could harm health but long-term damage could be avoided if people stop taking them, according to the BBC.

So I say reevaluate your diet and lifestyle. If you think you eat relatively healthy, chances are you likely don’t need a multi. However, if you’re a vegan or iron deficient, a multi might be just what you need.

By Sarah Richheimer

The Best Things You Can Put into Your Body

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Nothing is magical, but these superfoods are the best things you can put into your body.

Spinach: Spinach is listed on practically every list of superfoods.  Not only does spinach have iron, fiber, and antioxidants, but it also has anti-cancer properties, lowers blood pressure and promotes healthy skin by allowing for moisture retention. The best way to get the nutrients out of spinach is to cook it. Either sauté it with lemon and onions, boil it and squeeze some lemon over it or steam it. Make sure to always pair spinach with a citrus like lemon or orange because vitamin C increases iron absorption.

Kale: Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It is known for having a high amount of vitamin K — which can reduce the risk of cancer, vitamin A — which helps maintain healthy skin and teeth, and vitamin C — which protects against immune system deficiencies, and cardiovascular disease. I personally don’t like eating kale raw so I put it into a smoothie with water, an orange, an apple, almonds, and ground flax seed.

Green Tea: Everyone knows about the health benefits of green tea. It promotes weight loss, has natural antioxidants, and prevents cancer. Green tea, however, is not a miracle weight loss supplement; when paired with exercise and a healthy, balanced diet, it can increase weight loss, but just drinking green tea won’t help you lose weight. A lot of people don’t like the strong taste of green tea, so I would recommend the Tazo Zen tea. Because it is a combination of green tea and lemongrass, it looses some of the tea’s strong taste. Tazo Zen can be found at Starbucks or online at Amazon.

Blueberries: This small berry has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of all fruits. Antioxidants are important because they counteract the body’s natural process of oxidation. The best way to describe oxidation is to compare the human body to an apple turning brown. No one wants their apple to turn brown. If apples consumed blueberries, they wouldn’t turn brown.

Apples: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” This very cliché saying is true. What makes an apple so great is that it is high in antioxidants and fiber. Specifically for college students, apples detoxify your liver. They also help prevent a variety of diseases we don’t think about such as hemorrhoids, gallstones, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Almonds/ Walnuts: Almonds and walnuts are high in healthy fats. If you want to boost your metabolism, you need to consume foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Almonds are heart-healthy nuts in that they lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and reduce heart attack risk. Walnuts are packed with protein and vitamin B6, which improves cognitive function, PMS, and the prevention of cancer and heart disease.

Avocado/ Salmon/ Olive Oil: I grouped these three superfoods together because they all have the same function, to provide the body with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart disease overall. I love these foods because instead of promoting generic weight loss, these foods actually promote fat loss in the body. If you are trying to look fit instead of just skinny, foods high in omega-3 are the way to go.

Greek Yogurt: The Greek yogurt trend has only been in the mainstream media for about a year. The reason yogurt is so good for you is because it helps retain lean muscle mass, which allows for fat loss. Yogurt also contains probiotics, which are active cultures in your digestive tract that remove harmful microorganisms from the digestive tract.

Dark chocolate: When going for dark chocolate, a label simply saying dark chocolate is not enough because it can still have high amounts of artificial sugars similar to those in milk chocolate. Instead, opt for a bar with 85% [or higher if you don’t mind the bitter taste of cocoa]. This type of dark chocolate is high in fiber and antioxidants. It is also known to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Flax seed: Flax seed is known to have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and lignans. Women who consume lignans have lower body fat percentages, making it easier to lose fat, instead of just losing weight. Flax seeds, however, cannot be digested properly unless they are ground or in the form or a liquid oil. Personally, I bought a container of organic ground flax seed on Amazon and I put two tablespoons of ground flax in my Greek yogurt.

Chia seeds: Chia seeds have recently become popularized as they help with weight loss. They not only make you feel fuller faster, but they also reduce food cravings so that you only eat when you’re hungry. They can help control your blood sugar and reduce blood pressure.

Water: Water is the best thing you can put into your body. Everyone knows that you need to drink a lot of water every day, but, being in college, I have not seen many of my friends drinking a lot of water. Because our bodies are 60% water, we need to drink a lot of water in order to maintain the balance of body fluids; if the body fluid isn’t maintained, the body will have a harder time flushing out toxins and will store fat more easily.

 By Ejona Murataj

Social Media and Technology: Good or Bad for Your Relationship?

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We all know that social media and technology are some of the basic forms of communication in our culture today.  They make it easy to keep in touch with loved ones all over the world.  However, while this makes it easier to keep relationships up, is it hurting them at the same time?

Say someone messages you on Facebook or Twitter and the conversation starts from there.  Then it moves to texting.  So, now what?  You’ve had all of these great conversations online and now it’s time to meet face to face.  It’s a lot different having a conversation with someone face to face than it is through words on a screen.  Those words lack intimacy and emotion no matter how many emojis you put in them.  Through texts and social media messages you never see the look on the other person’s face or hear their tone when they say something.  Many times that is where the problems lie.  You don’t really know the context from where the other person is saying these things.

Not only can relationships start and be maintained through these outlets, they can be ended as well.  While we all know this is the worst way to end something it happens so frequently.  It’s hard to take in the full effect of what is going on when all you can see are black and white words on the page.  You don’t hear the tone in the person’s voice while they’re talking and they can’t see your reaction to it all.  No one knows how the other is truly feeling or how they are reacting.  Many times, we get so upset that we don’t even fully read the messages being sent to us.  We read what we want to and go off of that.  We can’t help it.  These forms of technology and media take the easy way of avoiding emotions, which can’t be done in a relationship.

While these outlets are great ways to stay in touch while traveling or living apart from your significant other maybe we should not use them as much as we do.  We need face-to-face contact to be able to fully tell how much of our emotions to invest into the other person.  We need this to know that the other person cares as much as we do, even when it is all coming to an end.  So while texting and social media can help certain relationships to survive, it can also bring some down a dangerous path.  This path, in some cases, may not be one of return.  So while it is so easy to use these devices, make sure to make time for the actual human contact, it’ll benefit you in the end.

By Samantha Breault

Get your Vitamin C without the Citrus

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The soundtrack of winter seems of consist of three basic notes: the cough, the sneeze, and the sniffle. Add lack of sleep and Syracuse weather on top of all that, and you’ve got the perfect cold.  Although vitamin C has not been proven to prevent the common cold, it has been shown to take a couple of days off of it.

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning your body cannot make it, so you must obtain it from your diet. Even though you bleed orange, you may not like oranges, but that’s okay! There are plenty of foods rich in Vitamin C besides the classic orange and orange juice:

  • Grapefruit: Add a little sugar on the top and you have a sweet, thirst quenching breakfast or snack. Don’t forget to squeeze the juice out at the end for an extra boost of vitamins!

  • Strawberries: Although they’re out of season, you can still enjoy. Throw some frozen strawberries in your smoothie or put them in the microwave for about 30 seconds, put them in your favorite yogurt, and enjoy a filling breakfast.

  • Broccoli: Great with any dish at dinner time! If the taste isn’t for you, try sprinkling a little bit of cheese on top (mozzarella and cheddar are my personal favorites).

  • Red or Green Bell Peppers and Tomatoes: Perfect with hummus for a snack, on top of salads to add a little sweetness,  or sautéed in with your favorite pasta, olive oil, and garlic.

The longer these foods sit in your fridge the more vitamin C they loose — even more reason to buy them frequently and eat them soon after. Also, consider steaming your vegetables to lock in and preserve those vitamins.

Besides helping you beat the sniffles, vitamin C plays a key role in the maintenance, growth, and repair of tissue in your body. It keeps your bones, teeth, cartilage, and skin strong and healthy. It also acts as an antioxidant to prevent certain cancers and heart disease. Vitamin C even promotes healthy aging, which we all need after that stressful Duke game! Don’t forget to add a little color to your plates with these foods at each meal —  it will go a long way!

By Katy Davis

Fresh, Organic, and Local: Strong Hearts Cafe

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When I first began my journey as a freshman nutrition major from the suburbs of Philadelphia, I knew I’d be immersed in SU’s college-student food culture filled with processed, dining hall meals and junk food options available on our famous Marshall Street. I am ashamed to admit that it was not until my sophomore year that I wondered off the hill for the first time and began to search for something more. It was not only good food I was after — I was on a quest for restaurants with a cause — ones that wanted to make a statement, and ones that strive to give back to the community — a standard I was familiar with from my upbringing, and a qualification that was pertinent in my dining options at home.

Strong Hearts Café was everything I had been looking for and more. This completely vegan café not only offers an eclectic menu, ranging from curried-mixed vegetable tofu “egg” scramble for breakfast, to a winter kale salad with walnuts, sweet potatoes, and beets drizzled in a light agave and mustard dressing for lunch- both are personal favorites, but it also offers over twelve sandwich options, over forty milkshake options, and over twenty pizza options as well. And if this is not one of the biggest vegan menus you have ever seen, they also offer snacks, sides, and organic, fair trade coffee- supplied from recess coffee, another wonderful, local café, located right up the street from the E. Genesee location.

This café — from personal experience, numerous recommendations, and a variety of positive reviews — not only offers an extensive menu, but provides something more — community support. Owners Nick Ryan, a Syracuse University graduate, and Joel Capolongo, an active member in the Syracuse Animal Defense League, are both experienced, practicing vegans who stress the importance of purchasing local ingredients from central New York farmers to execute their hefty menu, as well as support their immediate community. The cafe uses zero styrofoam and plastics, as well as no meat, dairy, cholesterol, high-fructose corn-syrup, artificial sweeteners, or trans fats. The owners take care that all food waste is properly composted. Their 100 percent biodegradable and compostable food packing speaks strongly to their care for our environment, and their relationship with the local community development credit union speaks to their devotion to locality and sustainability.

Stronghearts Café is truly music to my ears, an option nutrition majors focused in food studies, like myself, can only dream to discover. This unique café should definitely be welcomed warmly to our Syracuse University campus, and frequented regularly. Eating at Stronghearts Café is an impeccable way to support your community, eat mindfully, and of course, enjoy the most delicious, environmentally friendly cuisine on campus!

By Taylor Appel

How to Know When it’s Really Love

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We all know that guys aren’t the best with sharing their emotions, and sometimes they leave us women hanging with the question dangling over our heads —  “does he love me?” Guys can be weird sometimes and it can often be hard to read them. For me personally, I have been stuck on this road before, wondering if the guy I like really likes me back and is just awkward at showing it.

If you’re curious and want to find out if he’s actually falling in love with you, here are some tips to watch for:

He sends stupid texts: If his texts lack originality and are boring, he’s pretty love-drunk. If he texts: “I’m drinking a margarita,” or “I just saw a cat and he looks like yours,” he’s fallin’. He really means “I remember you said you like margaritas,” and “I don’t even mind that your cat hates men.” He also means that he really wants to be with you, your cat and margaritas all together.

He calls you and answers when you ring him: Guys usually don’t pick up the phone unless it’s for work, an emergency or to hear YOUR voice. Yeah, he’s falling hard if he answers the phone and he knows it’s not a dire emergency, or his boss on the other end.

He stops getting quite as many texts from others: All girls like when guys are good texters, right? I know I do. In fact, I complain and call guys out when they can’t keep a convo going. On the contrary, if a girl doesn’t want to text a guy, usually she stops and then leads him to end the convo too. So, if he can keep up with your lengthy conversations, he’s probably pretty into you.

He asks for style advice: I love when a guy asks for my opinion on a shirt to wear or what card he should buy for his moms birthday. It means he cares about your opinion and according to Women’s Health magazine, he’ll only asks if he’s “drunk on love hormones.”   

You hear his buddies giving him a hard time: A guy’s friends always know him best, right? So when your guy’s friends start picking on him and relating it to you, you can be certain they aren’t joking around. They are making observations about how their friend (your boy) has changed and these are things you may just be learning about through them. So let them tell you how HE really feels. 

Dry Skin? An Ode To Syracuse In The Winter

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Transferring into Syracuse, I honestly had no idea what I was in for this winter. My skin had always gotten a little dry during the cold months, but considering I never walked around a campus as much as I do now, I wasn’t even remotely ready for what this place had to offer me in the ways of itchy, flaky, and red cheeks.

When putting foundation on your face is difficult and basically pointless because you can see white bits of skin regardless, here are some things to keep the moisture that the wind here can take away from you.

1. If you aren’t moisturizing now — it’s time to start. Considering the temperatures are well below freezing even when the sun’s up, that alone can dry up any moisture your skin was retaining. Add wind to that. Sometimes the wind chill here makes it feel like -40 outside. Your cheeks will thank you if you buy a good, oil free (to avoid acne) moisturizer to put on before applying any makeup.

2. Use a humidifier at night. The humidity it gives off might be enough to replenish some of the skin cells lost to the freezing temperatures outside.

3. While that acne cleanser seems to be warding off those hated blemishes, while it’s this cold out, it’s really the wind that’s doing all that work for you. Instead of using it twice a day as directed, use it only once, or every other day. Acne washes strip away your face’s natural oils and can actually make your skin more oily and/or make you a new sufferer of severely dry skin.

By Casie Popkin

Why You Should Become a Morning Person

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As college students, it’s easy to fall into the trap of procrastination. We tend to do homework and study late into the night and wake up at the last possible moment to get ready for class. But we’re groggy, sleep-deprived, and unprepared for class. There are actually a lot of benefits to becoming a morning person, and even more benefits to starting now while we’re still in school. For many, the thought of transitioning from a night owl to an early bird can be daunting – but here are some benefits and tips to consider:
1. Go to bed early. While fairly obvious and self-explanatory, it’s also very important. Close your laptop and put your phone down earlier than you normally would.
2. Once we graduate and get real jobs, we’ll be forced to become morning people. Despite some variances, the typical work schedule is usually 9-5. Management will be expecting you to be on time, alert, prepared, put-together, and, most importantly, ready to produce quality work. So you might as well get into the habit now while you have the chance.
3. Wake up at a set time everyday, consistently. This will get your circadian rhythm accustomed to waking up early.
4. You’ll have more time to get ready in the morning. Shower, do your hair, pick out a cute outfit. Dressing well will show your teachers you’re serious about learning. It also helps, of course, if you happen to run into your crush on campus. Not to mention, showering in the morning can help you wake up as well.
5. Give yourself motivation to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. It’s so tempting to hit snooze – just 5 more minutes, please – but it’s essential to get up and start your day off right. For motivation, try making plans with friends or promise yourself a yummy breakfast.
6. Studies have shown that the best time to exercise is in the morning before eating breakfast. It burns fat more effectively and definitely helps to wake you up. Exercising makes you feel good, so starting out your day with physical activity is something we should all look into.
7. Take care of your homework early. Do it between classes or when you get back to your room. Getting it out of the way early will not only allow you to go to sleep earlier, but it will also reduce your stress levels and help you stay relaxed and focused.
8. When you wake up, drink coffee. Having caffeine in the morning can ease your transition. It will trick your body into thinking it has more energy than it actually does to begin the day.
9. You’ll never have to worry about oversleeping or being late to class again. Gone will be the days of setting 10 alarms and showing up to class late – in pjs and bun no less.
By Caleigh Gran

Eat Better Brain Foods

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Classes are in full swing again, and that means it’s time to get back on the study grind. I don’t know about you, but my mind has been a little preoccupied. When I’m not thinking about beating Duke this weekend, I’m wondering when it will finally warm up around here (or at least stop snowing). Needless to say, it has been hard getting focused.

A recent study found a number of foods that boost memory and overall brain function. So the next time studying seems useless, or you just need some brainpower, give these foods a shot.

Berries. Full of flavonoids that boost your memory, dark berries (i.e. cherries, blueberries, and blackberries) are a sweet treat with great payoff. Although most berries are not in season right now, you can still enjoy them! Try throwing some frozen ones in the blender with Greek yogurt and fruit juice for a filling snack. Dried berries are another delicious option: buy or make your own trail mix, bake them into your favorite desserts, or put them on your salad.

Seafood. Fish such as salmon, Bluefin tuna, or sardines, are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These are the same kinds of fatty acids that are most abundant in the brain, and studies have shown that diets rich in these may improve brain function. If fish just isn’t your thing, I encourage you to experiment with it. Recipes like fish tacos can taste like familiar dishes, but can add some variety to your meals.

Walnuts. Also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are a great way to add some crunch to your meal or snack. If eating them plain doesn’t do it for you, trying throwing them into your trail mix or onto your salad. They also taste great on top of oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or cereal in the morning.

Vegetables. It’s an overused phrase but it cannot be stressed enough — eat your veggies! It has been shown that getting enough servings of vegetables improves memory, and eating them doesn’t even have to be boring. Throw a couple of carrots and some spinach into your smoothie and you won’t even taste them. Pack some celery with peanut butter or hummus for a crunchy, refreshing afternoon snack. Add them to your favorite dishes like pizza, pasta, and chili for some added taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different vegetables — you may surprise yourself with what you like!

So the next time you notice your mind start to wander, get into the kitchen and whip up some brain food!

By Kathryn Davis

Ex-Radar

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​So you broke up with your significant other and you’ve been a little down in the dumps.  We’ve all been there.  You have a feeling that you just can’t seem to shake.  It sits deep down in your stomach, lurking.  After a period of time, however, that feeling disappears.  You become strangely happy yet again.  Life feels great.

So now let’s let some more time pass.  You’ve moved on.  You’re happy with someone new.  Your phone rings and who is it…your ex.  Why are they calling now?  Why do they want to rekindle the fire now?  It feels like they knew you were happy and wanted to throw this confusing curveball at you for fun.  It’s like they have a radar on you.  The minute you forget about them and let it go they come right on back.  They try to wiggle their way right back into your heart by playing off of your happiness.  Telling you everything you want to hear.  They tell you everything that you used to love.

​Then there’s the other radar.  The one that goes off when you are vulnerable yet again.  The one that goes off when you have just ended things with someone else.  Your old ex knows just when to come back into your life.  Ever notice how you go through a different break up and within days your phone rings and it’s your ex?  They know all the right things to say and how to make you smile.  They know you need someone to listen and talk to.  They know what happened without you saying a word.

​So what is it?  There is no real radar attached to us — there isn’t some signal that gets transmitted to their cell phones.  What could it be?  Maybe it’s the original idea that your significant other can usually read you like a book.  Even though you aren’t together anymore doesn’t mean that the ability to read you goes away, it just isn’t used as much.  Even when they haven’t been your significant other in a while doesn’t mean that their senses about knowing you go away.  So while this radar can be frustrating and annoying, maybe it’s just a way of the person showing they still know you and still care.  While this isn’t always the case, sometimes it just might be.  Maybe this radar is trying to tell you something and maybe it isn’t, it’s up to your heart to decide.

By Samantha Breault

4 Guilt-Free Holiday Cookies Under 70 Calories

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What a better way to end the Fall 2013 semester than to bake cookies? The holiday season is among us, therefore we must pay tribute to a favorite holiday tradition, baking cookies. Did I mention that each of these cookies are under 70 calories? So step away from the books for a little, and give yourself a break. Go make some of these delicious, easy, and most importantly, health-oriented cookies this holiday season.

Gingerbread Sparkles-51 Calories (2 cookies per serving)

Start to finish: 3 hours

Servings: 85 (170 cookies)

2 cups white whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons sparkling sugar

Whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Once combined, add brown sugar, egg, applesauce, and molasses until smooth. Then add flour. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop dough on baking sheets, 2 inches apart, using a spoon. Sprinkle tops with sparkling sugar. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool.

PB&J Thumbprints-44 Calories

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 8 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter, not natural or old-fashioned

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam, stirred to loosen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl beat peanut butter, sugar, egg, ¼ cup water and vanilla until combined. Slowly beat in flour mixture. Pinch off a teaspoon of dough and roll into a 1-inch ball. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat, covering both sheets, spacing dough balls 1 inch apart. With end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in center of each ball. Fill each indentation with 1/4 teaspoon jam. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool.

Mocha Nut Fudge Flats-43 Calories

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 24 cookies

1/4 cup hazelnuts, skins removed

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon strong brewed coffee, cooled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Toast nuts on a baking sheet for 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool, then chop finely. Mix confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, salt, egg white, and coffee until smooth. Drop teaspoons of dough on lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Raspberry-Chocolate Meringues-27 Calories (2 meringues per serving)

Start to finish: 2 hours

Servings: 54 (108 meringues)

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in sugar until mixture is glossy with stiff peaks, about 3 minutes. Pour in extract. Spoon meringue into a Ziploc bag with a small slit in one of the corners. Pipe onto sheet, 1/2 inch apart. Bake 1 hour 30 minutes. Let cool. Put chocolate in a bowl and in the microwave for 1 minute. Dip bottom of 1 meringue in chocolate, and set aside on a parchment sheet.

By: Marisa Malanga

Anything But Fish ‘N’ Chips: Holiday Feast

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It’s beginning to be that time again. You know the one I’m talking about: the lights go up, the Christmas music starts, and everyone starts forgetting about school to focus on their present lists. It is easily one of my favorite parts of the year, and in London, it’s even better. Every single street you stumble across has lights strewn from building to building, and every single tree is lit up and twinkling at you. Christmas markets are open and bustling with tourists from across the world, and they offer hot mulled wine to warm you up on the frosty UK nights.

But while all of the holiday magic is enchanting and heartwarming, it’s the festive food that keeps us all giddy. That is why, and I’d like to take credit for this idea, my flat decided to hold a holiday feast. We’ve done enough take out from delicious restaurants around the London area, and we wanted to prove to ourselves that we had what it took to make our own meal. The hard part was finding good recipes; we scoured Pinterest for hours finding the perfect dishes, and finally, we came across what was surely perfect for our wintery dinner.

I decided to make a vegetable side dish, and my friend Amber chose to make our main course. I cut up asparagus and sliced potatoes, tossed them in olive oil, shook on some salt and pepper, and popped the tray in the oven for 45 minutes. Afterwards I took the pan out and sprinkled over Parmesan cheese and fresh Basil. Fact: you can never have too much cheese.

Amber took an equally tasty route by cooking brown rice, chicken, and sunflower seeds in a pan. Then she tossed in some goat cheese at the end and mixed the entire pan together. It was scrumptious! It was absolutely incredible, and we proved that we can make our own lovely London meal! I’ll definitely be bringing some of these recipes back to the US.

I can’t wait for my next meal, I’ll eat ANYTHING but fish ‘n chips!

By Lara Gould

The Maya Moore Diet

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So, what’s her secret? After making just a slight tweak to her diet, WNBA player Maya Moore saw significant improvement in her performance on the basketball court.

After spending some time with Kara Lawson, WNBA veteran, prior to the 2013 WNBA season, Moore completely cut out dairy foods from her diet and consumption of processed sugar. Shortly thereafter, she saw a notable improvement to her game on the basketball court. She felt more energetic and less tired during her play and her recovery speed from games and workouts significantly increased. “It definitely made a difference in terms of me being quicker – and in less pain,” says Moore.

For Moore, the primary reason the dairy-free diet was so beneficial to her was because it helped her lose weight. Dairy foods are actually quite high in sugar. Sugar is not as high in milk and cheese as some other processed foods like soda, but dairy products contain enough sugar to elevate your insulin levels. For those who want to shed a few pounds, regulating your insulin level is extremely important. Losing a few pounds on a dairy-free diet will increase your performance in workouts by decreasing the pressure on your joints. This allows you to move faster more efficiently and feel less sore afterwards.

Reducing sugar intake is also crucial to an efficient performance during workouts. Lawson, who first suggested the diet change to Moore, was able to cut back on her sugar intake and saw a significant improvement in her energy levels on the basketball court. Why is that so? When sugar is consumed, glucose enters your bloodstream. Similarly to what dairy products do, sugar in the bloodstream leads to an increase in insulin levels as a response to your body’s need to absorb the sugar as energy. If you consume too much sugar, it causes insulin to store excess fat in your body, leading to weight gain and sluggishness.

Cutting our dairy products and reducing sugar intake in your diet has multiple benefits to your health. Not only will it aid weight loss, it will also increase efficiency and energy during your workouts, along with an increased recovery rate.

Refer to this link for more on Moore and Lawson’s diet adjustment: http://www.stack.com/2014/10/31/maya-moore-sugar-nutrition/

By Tammy Hong

Got Milk?

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The dining halls at SU make it as easy as possible for students with different dietary needs. Most offer vegetarian, vegan, and even some gluten-free options. Even if you do not follow any of these diets, it’s good to know a bit about what is out there.

When it comes to different kinds of milk, many questions come up about which to choose. With so many confusing advertisements and “testimonials,” the choices in the dining hall can seem even harder to decide on. Here’s the real breakdown of what each kind of milk has to offer.

Dairy Milk:

Fat: When it comes to whole, 1 percent, 2 percent, or fat free milk, the difference is the amount of fat in milk by weight. If you are watching your weight, the less fat option is better. Most of the time, it also depends on what you have grown up with and have a taste for.

Nutrients: Dairy milk is pasteurized and fortified before it reaches the fridges in grocery stores. Pasteurizing it kills harmful bacteria, while fortifying it adds Vitamin D and A. It also has about 30 percent of your daily calcium per cup.

Protein: In a one-cup serving of dairy milk, there are 8 grams of protein. This makes it a great post-workout drink to repair and grow your muscles.

Almond/Nut Milks:

Nut milks are made from blending nuts with water and separating the “pulp” from the liquid.

In fortified* unsweetened, original almond milk…

  • There are 30 calories per cup. However, 20 of the 30 calories are from fat.
  • There are 2.5 grams of fat, and 0 grams of saturated fat. These numbers are much lower than dairy milk.
  • There is only 1 gram of protein per cup.
  • There is 45 percent of your daily calcium, 10 percent of daily Vitamin A, and 25 percent of daily Vitamin D.

Soy Milk:

Soy milk is made the same way as nut milks, just with soybeans instead.

In fortified* regular soy milk…

  • There are about 110 calories per cup.
  • There are roughly 6.25 grams of soy protein per serving.
  • 45 percent of daily calcium and 30 percent of daily Vitamin D.
  • No cholesterol – one of the most important factors of soy milk.

Different milks offer different benefits, depending on whether you need more protein or more vitamins in your diet. When choosing the right milk for you, consider what you want to get out of your food. After all, if food is medicine, you want to make sure you choose what fits your specific needs, not someone else’s.

*Note: most non-dairy and dairy milks are fortified to add nutrients such as calcium, Vitamins A, B, and D.

By Liz Tosi

Defining Your Relationship

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When you’re in a new relationship, a lot of the time you don’t want to rush into defining or explaining what your “thing” really is because of the pressures it causes. While it’s never fun to be the one to bring up the talk with your partner, it’s very necessary. You might not seem as easy going as you want to be, but laying your cards on the table saves you from the embarrassment of finding out you and your partner aren’t on the same page.

With buzzwords like “bae,” “thing,” “open,” “exclusive,” and “FBO” (Facebook official), a relationship is not as simple as it used to be. The term, DTR (defining the relationship) is often dropped during television shows and has recently become part of society’s vernacular. Nowadays it seems like defining a relationship doesn’t lead to the typical “single” or “in a relationship” on your Facebook profile page, but rather the “it’s complicated” category.

If you don’t define what type of relationship you’re in and make it clear with your partner, then how will you ever know if he or she feels the same way? While it’s easy to assume that if you talk on a daily basis and hookup weekly that you’re in an unspoken exclusive relationship, until you talk to him or her you’ll never know if that’s what your partner considers it. For all you know, he or she may be casually hooking up with someone else or might consider you a girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s all about having that one, sometimes uncomfortable, conversation to agree on what you both want.

The conversation doesn’t need to be had immediately with your partner, but the sooner the better. Especially with a month-long winter break coming up, it might be better to know what to call your partner when talking to your friends and what the restrictions of the relationship are. The worst thing that could happen when having the talk is that you realize you’re both on different pages and need to figure out how to continue. But coming back from break thinking you’re one thing, and finding out that your partner thought you were another will hurt a lot more, especially if they hooked up with other people. Though this talk will always be met with an anxiety of sorts, ultimately, it is better to define what you are rather than saying, “Hi, this is my friend/person I talk to/constant hookup….it’s complicated.”

By Jessica Levy

If the Shoe Fits

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Believe it or not, wearing the right athletic shoes for you is a significant part of an effective workout. Wearing the wrong shoes can easily lead to injury and discomfort during and post-workout. Below are several points to consider when you’re purchasing a pair of exercise shoes.

  • Consider what kind of exercise you do most often, because different types of exercise require different types of shoes. A specific pair of exercise shoes is usually not meant for multiple purposes. For example, different shoes are suggested for running and walking, two of the simplest forms of exercise. Walking shoes are stiffer, while running shoes should be more flexible and come with extra cushioning to handle impact. Also consider the location or platform that you workout on. For example, some models of exercise shoes have better shock absorption features for running outside on more rugged surfaces.
  • Knowing and understanding the shape of your feet is crucial to picking the appropriate exercise shoes for you. If you’re unsure, do a “wet test” where you dip your foot in water and step on a platform that creates a print of the bottom of your foot. Examine your footprint to see whether your feet roll inwards, whether you’re flatfooted, etc., in order to determine the amount of support and motion-control you’d want from your exercise shoes.
  • Reexamine the shape of your foot once in a while. It is true that your feet change during your teenage years. Although the size of your feet may not change, the shape of your feet will most likely alter as you get older. 
  • Feet swell over the course of the day. Shop for shoes in the evening so you can try on exercise shoes when your feet are at their largest possible size. Also, always try on the pair of shoes before purchasing them. An appropriate pair of shoes will stimulate comfort immediately when you walk around wearing them.
  • Know when to replace your shoes. The grip at the bottom of your shoes eventually wears out. Depending on how often you exercise, athletic shoes should be replaced at an average of once a year.

Keep in mind that understanding the needs of your exercise is crucial to purchasing the best pair of shoes for you. Do not refrain from buying a quality pair of exercise shoes due to them being slightly too expensive. Investing in a solid pair of athletic shoes will guarantee maximum comfort and efficiency during your workouts.

By Tammy Hong

Everything You Need to Know About High-Fructose Corn Syrup

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What words come to mind when you hear the name “high-fructose corn syrup?” If any of them include “harmful,” “junk food,” or “unhealthy,” you share the same mindset as more than half of the U.S. According to the NPD group, a market research firm, 53 percent of all Americans now say they are concerned that high-fructose corn syrup may pose a health hazard. Most of us can find this term, abbreviated HFCS, on the nutrition labels of processed foods ranging anywhere from chewy granola bars to soft drinks. We have been told to avoid many of these products, like Coca Cola, Pop-Tarts, and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, for several other nutritional reasons, but now HFCS has become the nationwide blame for various health defects.

Developed in the 1960s as a convenient way to sweeten food, HFCS has become the most common added sweetener in the America, as well as one of the most successful food ingredients in modern history. Between 1970 and 1990, this sweetener came into widespread use with popular manufacturing properties like its low freezing point to retain moisture and its inability to mask flavors. Above all, however, the heavily subsidized corn crop in the U.S. makes HFCS very inexpensive. For instance, HFCS is made by extracting starch from corn and treating it to break the bonds between the glucose molecules. The resulting corn syrup is then treated to convert about half of the glucose to fructose. The industry knows HFCS as 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, creating debate due to the greater concentration of fructose in the solution.

Increased consumption of HFCS has been shown to parallel increased obesity, which in turn intensifies the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Several people argue that the impact of HFCS consumption on weight gain is due to the greater amount of fructose than glucose found in the syrup versus that found in 1970s most common sweetener, sucrose. When excess is consumed, fructose is converted to fat more readily than glucose. In addition, fructose does not stimulate the release of hormones that suppress appetite or inhibit the release of hormones that stimulate appetite as effectively as glucose. When consumed, glucose gets absorbed into the bloodstream and ushered, with the help of insulin, into fat and muscle tissue. On the other hand, the majority of fructose, when consumed, travels to the liver where it stimulates the production of triglycerides. A buildup of these triglycerides often coincides with insulin resistance and is a strong risk factor for heart disease.

Although many Americans have speculations regarding the switch from sucrose to HFCS, it is still unclear whether the small differences in the proportion of glucose to fructose in HFCS have led to the obesity epidemic. Of course, it would be unreasonable to deem a single additive the major risk of harmful health conditions like obesity and heart disease when several other variables must be evaluated to improve overall health. Hunt’s ketchup, along with Gatorade, Wheat Thins, and the baked goods at Starbucks, have all replaced HFCS with regular sugar. Either way, it is important to recognize that in the end, sugar is sugar, and HFCS will not cause harm in moderation.

By Allison Milch

Shake It Off

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Dancing is arguably the most universal form of creative bodily expression. Humans as a species love to dance. Whether or not we admit it, whether or not we show it, most of us enjoy the catharsis of dancing. When we hear a song that somehow resonates with us, we can allow that resonation to pass through us and take on a physical form. Throwing caution to the wind and allowing the music to overtake us is an incomparable joy. It’s no wonder moments of dancing are incorporated into our times of celebration. We dance at parties, sporting events, and weddings; at baby showers, during holidays, and at the end of date nights. It’s a fun experience we can treasure and share with those around us.

What makes dancing even more incredible is the long list of positive effects it has on us, both physically and mentally. Here are just a few ways that dancing can improve the overall quality of your life. These benefits are sure to make you want to turn on your favorite tune, and proceed to shake it:

Dancing gets your blood pumping 

There is little doubt that dancing is a great form of exercise. For starters, dancing regularly will help improve your flexibility. It keeps your body loose and your muscles warm, so it serves as a great warm-up. Additionally, as a weight-bearing activity, dancing challenges your muscles in diverse ways while also keeping your heart-rate up. This essentially means that it is the perfect workout. When you dance, you’re burning calories, strengthening your muscles, and working your core. A “dancer’s body” is not an unattainable myth. If you dance often and supplement the exercise with a few ballet-style stretches, you will notice a desirable transformation in physique. 

It’s easy to be happy when dancing 

Pharrell wasn’t lying in his song “Happy,” because you know you’re happy if you’re clapping along to the music. Clapping, a form of dancing, is an indication of happiness and the act of clapping lets people around you know it’s time to celebrate. Dancing can express a range of emotions; however, if you’re dancing informally, it is highly unlikely that you’re doing so with negative affect. Studies also show that dancing to upbeat music can reduce symptoms of depression. It’s a great way to improve your well-being. The fun involved in shaking your groove thing is sure to put a smile on your face, and keep it there for some time after. Dance has been known to foster a positive outlook, so keep on smiling and keep on dancing. 

It takes two (or more) to tango

Dancing serves as a great social tool. It’s a large part of the reason we have dancing at our parties and night clubs. People who dance together make a positive connection that can go far beyond the dance floor, or at least until the next time they meet. It can be a bonding experience, with new and old friends alike, and helps keep the social atmosphere lively. There’s a well-studied social phenomenon that occurs when you watch others dance. It activates neurons in your brain that make you almost feel as if you are the one performing the dance moves, creating a unique kind of empathy. Dancing with friends or lovers is a great extension of your existing relationship, and will likely strengthen it. So grab a friend (or five), hit up your favorite dance spot, and let loose. Watch for all of the great potential friends around you, waiting for you to teach them how to “Dougie.”

Stress? Shake it off!

Numerous research studies have noted dance as a significant stress-reducer. When you dance, your body releases serotonin and endorphins, or in other terms, feel-good chemicals. It activates pleasure centers in your brain and significantly boosts your mood. It also reduces tension, which is a physical indicator of stress, and allows for your body to almost literally shake off negative energy. If you have a lot on your mind, dancing also helps you focus on something calming or exciting in a way that will prevent you from ruminating negatively. Instead of reaching for that glass of wine or binge-eating a pint of ice cream in times of stress, turn up a Beyoncé song and let the beat take your body to a stress-free place.

The list goes on and on 

Dancing has also been proven to be beneficial in many other areas of your life. It improves heart health, increases cognitive performance, aids in weight loss, boosts energy levels, strengthens your bones, improves coordination, speeds up your metabolism, fosters creativity – the list is endless. It is an incredible function of the human body and whether or not you believe you have rhythm, you should dance anyway! There are many reasons why everyone should find the time to get out on a dance floor and get into the groove.

By Melissa Espinal

The 10 Germiest Things in Your Dorm Room

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Fungi. Bacteria. Dirt. Germs. Think your roommate is the only one you share your dorm room with? Think again.

You already knew dorm bathrooms and halls were germ-central, but maybe you never thought of what was lurking behind your own door. Here are some of the dirtiest items sitting right under your nose, but better yet, ideas on how to keep them as clean as possible.

Beds – According to Dr. Lisa Shrives of “Sleep Better,” a college students’ pillow has 170 million potential bacteria counts as well as mold and yeasts. These can potentially cause skin lesions, asthma, and infections. The cure: WASH YOUR SHEETS! Changing pillows as well as showering before sleeping will also prevent the build up.

Cell phones – Cell phones are used in the gym, in class, while eating, and of even sometimes, in the bathroom. All of this use in different settings brings germs found there to the surface, and then directly transfers them to your ear while talking. Your body heat also increases the amount of bacteria growth on your phone. Solution: Wipe your phone with disinfectant wipes a few times a week. Try not to bring it to the bathroom or even shower with you, because that spreads the most bacteria.

Backpacks – Whether it ends up on the floor, hanging on a bathroom door, desks, or anywhere near the dining halls, your backpack picks up dirt and germs wherever it goes. Sweating on your way to class? Yep, that’s still there, too. What to do: Throw the backpack in the washing machine once in a while. Spray with Febreeze in between washes. Also try not to put it on the floor whenever possible. Putting it on a hook is substantial.

Some other items to watch out for:

Keyboards, remote controls, door handles, microwave & fridge handles, desktops, and shower flip-flops.

Don’t forget to throw your shower shoes away every month or so!

For the most part, Lysol Disinfectant wipes will be your best friend in college, with soap and water coming in close second.

By Liz Tosi

Foam Rolling Basics

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Although regular exercise is an essential part of maintaining your health, people often forget that allowing your muscles to recover between workouts is equally important. Muscle recovery is crucial in order to avoid injury during workouts and allow your muscles return to their normal elastic and healthy state in order to perform at their highest potential.

Self-myofascial release, also known as self-massage, is often suggested to relieve muscle soreness after a workout. Self-massage can be done with a foam roller to apply pressure on specific points of your body to release tightness in the muscles.

Foam rolling specifically targets knots in the muscles and intensifies pain radiated in another area of your body once pressure is applied. When foam rolling, discomfort and pain are often felt, especially when applied to tight or sore muscles. The discomfort felt is similar to stretching or deep tissue massages – uncomfortable, but bearable. After foam rolling on sore muscles, the soreness and tightness in your muscles should be released. However, it is important to understand the correct way to foam roll in order to aid muscle recovery to prevent damage. The day after foam rolling, you may experience some soreness but the tightness in your muscles should feel like it has been released. At that point, drink plenty of water and allow your muscles to rest for at least 24 hours before working on the same muscle group(s) again.

Muscle recovery is an important aspect to your exercise. Foam rolling helps to relax tight muscles and prevent injury. If appropriate measures are not taken to aid muscle recovery after a workout, muscles can easily become inflexible, lose their adhesion, and experience pain during movement. Foam rolling enhances blood circulation in order to restore muscles back to their healthy state.

By Tammy Hong

7 Foods to Boost Your Immune System

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With colder weather sweeping in, our bodies are becoming prone to colds and viruses. In order to avoid getting sick, below are several foods found in campus dining halls that can help boost your immune system.

  • Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits contain an immense amount of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has been scientifically proven to reduce cold and flu symptoms by 23 percent. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit are usually readily available in the fruit section of the dining halls.

  • Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been scientifically proven to boost the activity of white blood cells. Having more active white blood cells helps your body fight off infections, so add a handful to your stir-fry or salads during meals!

  • Teas

People who drink tea regularly have more virus-fighting interferon in their body, when compared to those who don’t drink tea at all. Interferon is a protein that your body releases to fight off pathogens in response to viruses and bacteria. L-theanine, the amino acid that triggers this reaction, is most abundant in black and green tea. So switch out your fizzy drink for a nice cup of warm tea, or swipe a couple of tea bags from the dining hall as you leave to make yourself some tea as you study in your dorm room.

  • Yogurt

Probiotics in yogurt are healthy bacteria that prevent disease-causing germs to survive your digestive system. Grab a yogurt cup to go for an afternoon snack as you leave the dining hall in the morning.

  • Oats & Barley

Oats and barley contains a type of fiber that boosts your immune system against the flu, as well as boost the activity of antioxidants in your body.

• Beef

Beef is a prime source of zinc. Zinc is very important for the development of white blood cells in your body – a major component of your immune system that fight against disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

  • Sweet Potatoes

A major part of your immune system is skin, which is your body’s first layer of defense against pathogens. In order to keep your skin strong and healthy, sweet potatoes contain Vitamin A, which plays a major role in the production of connective tissue and is a key component of skin.

  • Fish

Salmon, which the dining halls have occasionally, is rich in omega-3 fats that increase airflow and protection of the lungs, preventing colds and respiratory infections.

  • Honey

Honey coats your throat in a natural way that soothes throat irritation. It also contains antioxidants that help your immune system fight against infections. Putting a couple drops into your tea will help boosts its benefits.

With midterms still in progress and final exams coming up, adding a few of the foods mentioned above to your diet can definitely help prevent you from getting sick.

By Tammy Hong