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