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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Know Your Nutrition

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People often refer to the “Nutrition Facts” label on the back of their packaged food for nutrition information. But what does all of the information provided on the label really mean? There are several simple steps as to how to make healthier choices the next time you shop at your local grocery store.

This is the Nutrition Facts label from a bag of Tops Blue Corn Tortilla Chips.

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  1. Always keep an eye on the Serving Size because it is the basis for the rest of the information listed on the label.
  2. Check the calories. In this case, there are 140 calories per serving or per 12 chips. Not bad for a small midday snack.
  3. Then go to the % Daily Value. Anything under Total Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium and Total Carbohydrate are nutrients that you should limit. Anything below five percent Daily Value is low and anything above 20 percent Daily Value is high. Again, not too bad here.
  4. Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron are all nutrients you should make sure you get a healthy dose of. Again, anything below five percent Daily Value is low and anything about 20 percent is high. According to this food label, this packet of Blue Corn Chips probably is not your best source for these nutrients.
  5. Pay attention to the “*” after the % Daily Value This is telling you to refer to the footnote at the bottom of the food label. Most foods have this footnote on their labels notifying consumers that of all the Daily Values are based off of a 2,000-calorie diet. The numbers next to each nutrient under “2,000 Calories” are the recommended intake of each nutrient. You should always aim to eat less than the suggested % Daily Value of nutrients like Total Fat and Cholesterol. Contrarily, you should aim get at least the suggested % Daily Value intake of good nutrients, such as Dietary Fiber.

Overall, the Tops Blue Corn Tortilla Chips are not healthiest choice in the supermarket, but a small amount of them is definitely a better solution for your munchies than a handful of other oily potato chips.

By Tammy Hong

Is IIFYM Right for You?

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Five letters, IIFYM, seem to have suddenly made an awkward appearance in the world of fitness and nutrition. If you have seen this acronym and have absolutely no idea what it means, then you are not alone. Many people do not know that “IIFYM: If it fits your macros” is an acronym about one of the latest fads that many athletes and gym-junkies are talking about.

Basically, IIFYM is a scientific approach to eating. That is, measuring exactly how many grams of carbs, proteins, and fats your body needs every single day. It can be very difficult and frustrating for people when they first try it because there are so many factors that affect what the body needs on a daily basis. Some of these factors include current weight, height, sex, and most importantly, level of activity each day.

So what are macros? “Macros” is short for “macronutrients,” or carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Some athletes choose to “bulk up” to put on muscle, while others want to “cut” to lose fat. In order to do either of these, they must adjust the amount of each macronutrient they consume each day. In order to just simply maintain weight, people can calculate their macros online at iifym.com/iifym-calculator. This website asks general questions about your daily life that will help figure out your specific needs.

Many athletes choose this approach because it not only allows them to adjust their weight, but it allows them to adjust what they are able to eat. For instance, if they track closely enough, they can fit some “unhealthy” choices into their diet without worrying about gaining weight. Every food is made of macronutrients, so it is up to the consumer to choose how they eat their daily needs.

Disclaimer: following IIFYM, just like any other diet plan, should be discussed with a health care provider first. Some athletes have been known to get too caught up in figuring out their daily macros by weighing everything they eat, tracking every morsel that enters their mouth, and falling into bad eating habits. Though IIFYM is a “scientifically proven” method of eating, it is not for everyone and should be approached mindfully. After all, it should not be “if it fits your mouth!”

By Liz Tosi

Eating Less isn’t Always Best

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We hear it everywhere, things like “eat less and you will be able to fit into a smaller dress.” The idea of eating less has become a staple of diets, but sometimes eating less isn’t the key to successful weight loss.

Many people believe that if they count their calories, they should see the weight shed, but counting the calories won’t help if you aren’t eating the right foods. The fats on our bodies are stored energy and come from eating to many empty calories like sugar. If you are consuming less but eating empty calorie foods, then you are not helping your weight loss. You defeat the purpose of eating less if you eat unhealthy foods. Processed foods have simpler carbs, which are quickly digested and make you feel hungry sooner, so eating a small amount of unhealthy food will leave you feeling unsatisfied and hungry.

Instead of focusing on how many calories we consume, we should be focusing on the nutrients we are eating. Nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean meats will allow you to eat larger portions but still feel satisfied. This will allow your metabolism to burn fat throughout the day and cause you to be less likely to eat excess food. Your meals should start off big and decrease in size as the day goes on. You want to eat more in the morning when you have time to burn it off during the day and less at night since your body burns less calories while sleeping.

Many people think that skipping breakfast is a good way to cut out calories but really they are just hindering their weight loss. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, because it is how you wake up your body and your metabolism. Without breakfast, you are more likely to overeat. A good breakfast will have foods that are high in starch and signal your body to use fat for energy. A great example of this could be found in oats, topped with a sliced banana. For all the coffee addicts out there, black coffee can also help your weight loss. The caffeine in one cup of black coffee can suppress your appetite and increase your metabolism, also enhancing the benefits of exercise.

In reality, eating less isn’t the secret formula for weight loss—eating smart is. Eating balanced meals of healthy foods with exercise will be the most successful route to your healthiest weight.

By Crystal Hawley

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

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

Microwave Meltdown: Is Your Food Losing Nutrients?

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The microwave is no stranger to convenient cooking. There is no doubt that microwaves have changed the pace of preparing a meal for people across the globe, and with the continual advances in technology, our lives seem to rely on fast paced mechanics now more than ever.

The harsh truth is that heat damages a percentage of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes in certain foods. Recent studies by Dr. Ed Bauman, founder of Bauman College, have shown that microwaving food has a greater impact on the percentage of these damaged nutrients than boiling on a stovetop.

Bauman’s results show some astonishingly disturbing results:

-Broccoli that is heated in the microwave with water lost up to 97% of its antioxidants
-Garlic’s active nutrient that aids in fighting cancer and other diseases, allinase, is destroyed when heated in the microwave for 1 minute
-Most vegetables lose up to 90% of their nutrient value including vital vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes because they are destroyed in microwaving cooking, while steaming on a stove only destroys up to 11% of the nutrients
-Microwaving creates radiolytic compounds that are not researched enough to know what they do to our bodies, but they are definitely not health-promoting and are most likely detrimental to our overall health

The best solution to these problems is to eat organic, raw vegetables and to add flavor to them without the addition of microwave heat. For example, dip vegetables in peanut butter, reduced fat ranch dressing, or reduced fat cream cheese, in which Philadelphia cream cheese now has delicious flavors such as Chipotle, Protein Honey, Garlic and Herb, and Pumpkin Spice. Just remember, moderation is key to a balanced diet. If you do have a stove and the time to steam your vegetables, then it is best to choose that option when it is available to you. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over any type of vegetable with a pinch of salt and pepper to make for the perfect side dish or snack.

There is also a tremendous amount of recipes for vegetable side dishes on FoodNetwork.com that are simple. Just click on the “Quick and Easy” tab on the top of the Food Network’s homepage, and then the “Side Dishes” tab in the middle of that webpage. You will be introduced to many no-microwave, easy, side dish recipe options to add to a plethora of meals.

Different Oils for Different Cooking Methods

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Sometimes it can be very confusing to know which oil to cook with. Most people base it off of the flavor of the oil, but mainly stick to olive or canola oil. Well, there actually times when you should, and shouldn’t be cooking with certain oils.

Sauteing. When you are sauteing a food, go with olive oil. It is a pretty flexible oil that does well with medium heat on a stove top. Try to use a lighter olive oil(ie not extra virgin), that is lighter in color and works for any type of saute. If you are looking for a more pronounced olive oil flavoring, turn to the extra virgin section. With this type of method, you definitely shouldn’t be cooking with wheat germ or flaxseed oil that burns down too easily.

Baking. Be sure to use coconut, canola, or safflower oil for the best results, as they all do well in medium temperatures used for baking. Be mindful however of coconut’s nutty flavoring. Keep flaxseed and wheat germ oils away. Though healthy they are fragile and will break down in heat.

Frying. Frying can be tricky. You need an oil with a high smoke point that makes food crisp, not soggy, which means the food has taken in too much fat. Try peanut, safflower, or soybean oil, and avoid olive oil, which due to its low smoke point leads to soggy food.

Grilling. Try canola or safflower oil for your best results. Both of these oils can withstand temperatures close to 500 degrees, making them unlikely to oxidize in the presence of flames. Avoid olive oil, even though lots of recipes call for it. It just can’t take the heat.

Roasting. This depends a lot on cooking temperature. If you are roasting at high-heat, over 325 degrees, try canola which is heat stable. If you are cooking at low-heat for a long period of time, olive oil is a good choice. Either way avoid flax seed or wheat germ oil.

By Aisling Williams

The Pasta Swap — Spaghetti Squash

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As the leaves continue to fall and the chill in the air is felt more and more, it’s clear that squash season is underway. With Thanksgiving in a few weeks and Christmas soon after, squash is so versatile and can be cooked in countless ways—from yummy soups and salads to even noodles!

The noodle replacement that I’m referring to, in specific, is part of the squash variety– spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is that big, oval-ish shaped squash you’ve likely seen mixed in with the many other squashes, at Wegmans. But I think spaghetti squash is so different than many other types because it has a unique inside texture, very similar to thin spaghetti noodles. YUM — who doesn’t love some great tasting spaghetti?

But seriously, if you are trying to cut calories and carbohydrates, give spaghetti squash a try. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals and it fills you up! In only one cup of squash, you’ll find 31 calories, 7 carbs, .6g of fat and then some B-6, B-12, calcium, iron, magnesium and the essential vitamins A, C and D.

Along with the health benefits, it’s so easy to cook it too. Set the oven to 450 degrees and put the squash (cut vertically in half) face down on a cookie sheet, lined with aluminum foil, and bake it for about an hour. You’ll know it’s done when the skin becomes soft and a bit brown…oh and the house will smell luscious.

When it comes out of the oven, I like to put spaghetti sauce on it with some parmesan cheese and sometimes some chicken (for protein) or some Quorn meatballs (meatless meatballs).

To find other fun ways to cook spaghetti squash, check out this website: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipe-collections/spaghetti-squash/index.html

By Sarah Richheimer

Photo courtesy newhealthguide.org

How to Feel Fuller Longer

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We all have at least one day a week where it feels as though there is no break in our day for hours. When you finally sit down and have a meal, you probably go for some not-so-mindful foods like that extra slice of pizza or a few too many chocolate chip cookies. The high volumes of simple sugars found in these foods will make you become hungrier faster for your next meal and over time could contribute to weight gain.
Because of their high-fiber content, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts should become your favorite new snacks for before that long stretch of classes. Fiber tends to make a meal feel larger and linger longer, so you will stay full for a longer amount of time. Fiber is not digested by the body, but passes relatively whole through your stomach, small intestine, colon and out of the body. High-fiber foods must be consumed with a substantial amount of water to allow for the fiber to pass smoothly along the digestive tract and be secreted out of the body. Women are recommended about 25g per day and men are recommended 35g per day of fiber. Overall, fiber helps you feel fuller longer, allowing you to help maintain a healthy weight, without the risk of an unhealthy splurge on your longest school days.
There is a plethora of foods that are rich in fiber, so your meal or snack will never feel dull or repetitive. You do not have to sacrifice taste or texture to maintain satiety. The next time you know you have hours of classes ahead and no time in between to eat, try to incorporate these high-fiber foods into your meal or snack beforehand.
Fruits:
Per cup
-Raspberries: 8g
-Blackberries: 7.6g
-Strawberries: 3.3g
Per 1 fruit
-Apple: 4.4g
-Pear: 5.1g
-Mango: 3.3g
Vegetables:
Per cup
-Artichokes: 10.3g
-Squash, cooked: 5.7g
-Broccoli, cooked: 5.5g
-Brussel Sprouts, cooked: 6.4g
-Spinach: 5.1g
-Carrots, cooked: 4.8g
-Sweet Corn, cooked: 4.2g
-Peas, cooked: 8.8g
Whole Grains:
Per cup
-Shredded wheat cereal: 5.7g
-Quinoa, cooked: 5g
-Oatmeal, cooked: 5g
Per 1/2 cup
-Whole Wheat Spaghetti: 6.3g
-Low-fat Granola-5g
Per 2 slices
-Whole Wheat Bread: 5.2g
-Rye Bread: 5.6g
Legumes:
Per 1/2 cup
-Pinto Beans, cooked: 7.7g
-Kidney Beans: 6.5g
-Baked Beans, canned: 5.2g
-Lentils, cooked: 7.8g
-Black Beans, cooked: 7.5g
-Lima Beans, cooked: 6.6g
-Split Peas, cooked: 8.2g
Nuts:
-Almonds: 3.5g (24 nuts)
-Pistachios: 3g (7 nuts)
-Peanuts: 4.6g (56 nuts)
-Walnuts: 4g (30 halves)
-Pecans: 5.4g (40 halves)
By Marisa Malanga

Why Losing Weight Could Mean Losing Love

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Losing weight can be a wonderful thing, instilling self-confidence and a better self-image. Yet studies have shown it can be harming if you are in a relationship. Though seemingly contradictory, read below to learn why it might just not be.

The study was conducted using 21 couples who dated over 2 years. In that time, one of the partners had lost weight, either by diet, exercise, or medically. Most had lost about 60 pounds or more in the period measured.

Though the partner who lost weight was found to be much more communicative, especially in thinking in a health-conscious way and promoting healthy eating amongst themselves and others, the non-weight loss partner was not.

The partner who had lost weight also was more confident in themselves, yet their relationship was losing hope.

Many of the non-weight loss partners were irritated by their partner encouraging them to eat and live healthier themselves, leading to resentment. This caused less sex in the relationship and poor communication. Some partners were also found to be not supportive of the weight loss, feeling threatened and insecure about themselves. These partners were more likely to make critical comments, or tried to manipulate their partners weight loss by sabotaging their diets with unhealthy food to prevent their partner and the relationship from changing.

Overall, the study proved that in order to find success in a relationship where a partner is undergoing a lot of weight loss, there are few things to be noted. It changes the dynamic of the relationship, sometimes for good, other times for bad. In order for the relationship to stay strong, the partner who doesn’t lose the weight needs to be supportive of the one who does, without feeling threatened or insecure about themselves. Lastly, the study found that some who had lost weight during the relationship lost the weight due to an initial weight gain when first-entering the relationship, by approximately 14 pounds on average.

By Aisling Williams

Why Music Blurs the Strength of Alcohol

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Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 2.48.21 PMA recent study shows that women are more likely to drink alcohol faster when listening to music. Can you believe that?

Apparently, music distracts women from the strength of alcohol, causing them not only to drink faster, but also higher amounts. Uh oh.

Three studies were conducted, one involving taste, one involving volume, and one involving speed. The study took a group of men and women ranging from age 18 to age 28, and had them consume alcohol every day for a series of weeks. Each participant would take a sip of each different type of alcohol and then take a test measuring their attitudes and then reporting the taste of the alcohol.

For the volume study, the participants were tested on how much they drank, while listening to stimulating music, one on low volume and one on high volume. Those listening at a high volume reported the drinks in the taste test being much less strong.

For the speed study, the participants listened to slow speed music, moderate speed music, and fast speed music while drinking, and those who tasted alcohol during fast speed music drank quicker than those without.

So, these studies show us to be wary of where and what we are listening to when we drink!

By Aisling Williams