Fruits and Vegetables

Eating fruits and vegetables is a great way to give your body energy and vitamins to help ward off illness.  In addition, most fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories and are filling.  As a college student you may wonder   how can I eat more fruits and vegetables when I am busy and also on a budget?

Tips for getting more fruits and vegetables:

  • Shop for fruits and vegetables when they are in season. Look to see when your favorites are in season
  • Cook most frozen vegetables in the microwave in less than five minutes. They are just as nutritious as fresh veggies.  Here are tips for healthy ways to cook fruits and vegetables
  • Try different cooking methods of vegetables including grilling, roasting or baking
  • Keep fruit in your backpack at all times for a nutrient rich snack
  • Grab a piece of fruit with you leave the dining hall
  • Plan meals around a vegetable as the main dish
  • Make healthy fruit dips with peanut butter and yogurt
  • Make nutritious dips for veggies including hummus or yogurt with herbs

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

Diet? What Diet?

Are you fed up with “diets” and realize that they just don’t work?  If so, you’ll be happy to know that research also shows diets don’t work (Mann, 2007)[i].  Diets often eliminate food groups and cause an imbalance in nutrient intake. Typically, diets are too restrictive to maintain on a regular basis.  They leave people feeling deprived, which in turn back fires and can cause people to overindulge in the foods they were avoiding.  If you want to make healthy changes to your diet, reject the diet mentality and embrace intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating (Bush, 2014)[ii] means listening to your body. Honor your hunger by eating.  And respect when you feel full.  Challenge the food police that categorize food as “good” or “bad” and instead, enjoy all food in moderation. Make food choices that reinforce your health and make you feel well.  When you are bored, stressed, or feel emotional, instead of using food as your comfort, engage in an activity that will help you manage your stress and work through your emotions.  Respect your body so you can feel good about it and be the best version of you.

Want to learn more about intuitive eating?  Read Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.  You can browse through the book in the student resource area in 201 Student Health Center.

[i] Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling E, et al. Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: diets are not the answer. Am Psychol. 2007;62:220–233.

[ii] Bush H, Rossy L, Mintz L, & Schopp (2014). Eat for Life: A Worksite Feasibility Study of a Novel Mindfulness-based Intuitive Eating Intervention. Am J Health Promotion (July/Aug):380-388.


Is it more than just a cold?

These days, coughing and sneezing can be heard in every classroom.  The cause is often a common cold.  Occasionally, something that may start off looking like a common cold could be more serious.  When is it time to see the doctor?

Monitor your symptoms and call your doctor if you observe any of the following:

  • Persistent temperature of over 102 degrees F
  • Severe headache
  • Increased facial swelling
  • Very large neck glands
  • Painful joints
  • Skin rash
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing own saliva
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Persistent greenish nasal discharge
  • Foul odor to breath
  • Nasal symptoms, facial pressure, or cough that do not improve or get worse after 1-2 weeks.

When in doubt, contact the advice nurse.  The nurse can be reached by phone 24 hours a day at 814-863-4463.  You can also send a secure message to the advice nurse through myUHS during regular business hours (M-F; 8am-5pm).


Treating the common cold

Catching a cold at this time of year is common.  The weather is changing, your stress level might be increasing, and you may be living in close quarters with other students.  Even with good hand-hygiene and other positive health behaviors, you may get sick.  On average, adults have 2-3 colds per year (  Antibiotics will not cure a cold virus.  However, here are some things you can do at home to reduce symptoms and make the cold tolerable while getting healthy again:

  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water, juice, or soup. Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can dehydrate you.
  • Take a hot shower to loosen congestion and thin mucous.
  • Use cough drops to soothe a sore throat.
  • Treat a fever or sore throat with ibuprofen (Advil®), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen. (Tylenol®). Use the product as directed on the package.
  • Over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants may be effective. Learn about different types of cold medicines and how they can help from Common Cold Self-Care section on the University Health Services web site.

If you are concerned that your illness is more than just a cold, contact the University Health Services Advice Nurse (814-863-4463) or make an appointment at University Health Services.

Alcohol-Induced Blackouts

Ever hear a friend talk about wanting to get black-out drunk?  A new research study (Hingson, Zha, Simons-Morton, and White, 2016) shows that blacking out is the best predictor of a range of alcohol-related problems such as hangovers, missing class, getting behind in school, experiencing an alcohol overdose, arguing with friends, and doing something that was later regretted.  In other words, in this study, students who experienced an alcohol-induced blackout in the last 6 months were more likely to have other alcohol-related problems.  This was true even after the researchers statistically controlled for drinking levels.

Blacking out in the last 6 months was the second strongest predictor of getting into trouble with the police.  It was also the second strongest predictor of getting hurt or injured. The strongest predictor of both of those problems was use of 3 or more drugs.

Alcohol-related blackouts are periods of amnesia where the brain fails to store short-term memories.  Blackouts can result in periods of fragmented or complete memory loss. Consuming large amounts of alcohol, particularly if consumed rapidly, and on an empty stomach can cause blackouts. During a blackout, a person can still speak, walk, drive, have sex, or do practically anything that a sober person could do; except the person will not remember anything that they have done during the blackout.

his new research reveals that getting black-out drunk may not be as much of a fun pursuit as you think!


Hingson, R., Zha, W., Simons-Morton, B. and White, A. (2016), Alcohol-Induced Blackouts as Predictors of Other Drinking Related Harms Among Emerging Young Adults. Alcohol Clin Exp Res, 40: 776–784.

Hand hygiene

Keeping your hands clean is the most important step you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Most of us understand the importance of washing our hands before eating and after using the restroom. It is also important to wash your hands before & after preparing food, before & after caring for someone who is sick, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and after changing the trash bag.

Many people tend to grab a squirt of soap and have quick rinse without maximizing the benefits of thorough handwashing. Here are some tips to increase the effectiveness of your handwashing:

  •  Fully lather your hands on the front, back, between fingers and under fingernails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds each time you wash. If you need a guide, try humming the happy birthday song twice while you wash.
  • Always dry your hands thoroughly with a clean towel or air dryer after washing.

Washing hands with soap and water is the most effective method; however, when soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands.

Nutrition Services

Did you know there is a Nutrition Clinic specifically for Penn State students at the Student Health Center?  Check it out and become a champion of your health!  A Registered Dietitian will meet with you to discuss your goals and personal health needs.  These needs may include, but are not limited to, digestive disorders, disordered eating, vegan or vegetarian diets, general health and wellness, weight management, nutrition and exercise, and diabetes.  Make an appointment online through myUHS or call 814-863-0461.  The cost is $28.00/hour.