All posts by Erin Raupers

Health Promotion and Wellness offers individual wellness services

Health Promotion and Wellness is now offering free Wellness Services for students. The services are designed to help students increase knowledge and learn new skills that contribute to healthy behaviors and academic success.  Services are available for:

  • Financial Wellness
  • Healthy Relationships and Sexual Health
  • Nutrition/Healthy Eating
  • Physical Activity
  • Sleep
  • Stress (Relaxation and Time Management)

Each service includes three 1-hour sessions. Trained peer educators deliver the services. Students can schedule an appointment by calling 814.863.0461.  The services are located in the Wellness Suite, 20 Intramural Building.

Navigating the Dining Commons

Eating a healthy meal in the dining commons can feel overwhelming with all the choices.  You are offered an all you care to eat buffet as well as individual food stations.  How do you get started?

One helpful way to approach the dining commons is to first review the online menu.  If you plan ahead, you can make a healthier and balanced meal.  If you don’t have time to view the online menus ahead of time, use the MyPlate concept when approaching the food station.  For a balanced meal,fill  ½ your plate with fruits and vegetables, ¼ of your plate with grains and another ¼ of your plate with protein.  Don’t forget the healthy fats!

Look for the RHEAL program in the dining commons.    RHEAL stands for Residential Healthy Eating and Living.  This program is designed to help students identify foods that are healthier options.   Look for the sign with the carrot on it. For more information, click here RHEAL .

Tips for eating healthy in the dining commons:

  1. Check out the fresh fruits and vegetables at the salad bar
  2. Choose a whole grain for pasta, bread and rice
  3. Try other grains such as quinoa or farro
  4. Take a piece of fruit every time you leave the dining commons. (It will be a great snack for later!)
  5. Try other sources of protein including beans and tofu
  6. Add healthy fats to your meal from the salad bar such as nuts or olive oil as a dressing

Underage Drinking Decreases

A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows a decline in binge drinking rates among young adults, ages 12-20 years old. The report indicates that 14% of young adults report binge drinking, down from 16%.  The data is from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health which was conducted with 67,500 Americans across a variety of ages.

The decline in binge drinking is an indicator of successful policy, community coalitions and enforcement. Frances M. Harding, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, emphasizes that prevention efforts must continue to ensure long-term progress (1). This is especially true given that it is a national priority to reduce binge drinking behavior among college students (2).

  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/201706220200>
  2. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/leading-health-indicators/2020-lhi-topics/Substance-Abuse>

 

 

Eating Healthy: Dorm Edition

Claire Pomorski, a student in Nutrition 360 during spring 2017, created this awesome brochure full of valuable information to help students, living in the residence halls, make healthier food choices.  She highlights healthy food options in the Dining Commons, including getting Green 2 Go and healthy meal essentials found in the convenience stores.  She also includes meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that can easily be made in a residence hall room.  Check it out below.

Manage Stress 101

Everyone gets excited about returning to Happy Valley for the start of fall semester. As activities and classes get underway, it’s inevitable that your stress level will increase.  On the spring 2016 National College Health Assessment, 27% of undergrads at University Park said stress had a negative effect on their academic performance. To keep your stress in check here are a few tips:

Exercise. One of the best ways to manage stress and keep your body healthy is exercise. Physical activity increases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that make you feel good (1). Exercise can also improve brain function so you feel and perform better in school (2).

Meditate. Try a yoga class or practice mindfulness exercises. Research shows that meditation can help reduce stress, depression and pain (3).

Take a Break. Read a book. Go for a jog or a walk. Watch TV or listen to music. The American Psychological Association recommends taking a 20 minute break if you are feeling overwhelmed by a situation or project (4).

Find your friends. Talking about your problems to a friend, sibling, or parent actually reduces stress (4). Talking to someone about what’s causing you stress can give you the social support you need to get through the problem.

These tips will help you reduce stress and may improve your mood and performance. Stay ahead this semester by managing your stress with a Mange Stress Workbook.

References:

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, April 16). Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
  2. Hillman, C. Erikson, K. Kramer, A. (Janurary 2008). Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition.  Nature Reviews Neuroscience. Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n1/full/nrn2298.html?foxtrotcallback=true
  3. Corliss, Julie. (2016, December 14). Mindfulness Meditation May Ease Anxiety and Mental Stress. Harvard Heart Letter. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967
  4. American Psychological Association staff. (2017). Five Tips to Help Manage Stress. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

Brain Food

“The brain represents about 2% of the body’s weight. Remarkably, despite its relatively small size, the brain accounts for about 20% of the oxygen and calories consumed by the body.” (1) New research is being done to identify foods that power and protect the brain.  This research is limited, but there is evidence that omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids, found in almonds, walnuts, fish, avocados, canola oil, etc. reduce inflammation and promote blood flow in the heart and brain.  Antioxidants, found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, are known to fight cancer causing free radicals and help protect the brain from oxidative stress. (2)  Oxidative stress is the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidant defenses. Consuming an overall healthy diet consisting of whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables is the best way to keep your brain sharp and energy levels up. (3)  Try cooking up this quick and delicious recipe that contains whole grains, lean protein and a variety of vegetables.

 

  1. Clark D. & Sokoloff, L. (1999) in Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects, eds. Siegel, G. J., Agranoff, B. W., Albers, R. W., Fisher, S. K. & Uhler, M. D. (Lippincott, Philadelphia), pp. 637–670.
  2. Gomez-Pinilla, F. (2008) Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9, 568-578.
  3. http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-what-to-eat-for-brain-health/

Frozen Fruit Cups

If you enjoy frozen desserts, you’ll want to make room in your freezer for this recipe. With three types of fruits and non-fat yogurt, it not only tastes great but also helps you to get your recommended fruits and dairy for the day.

Not only is yogurt an excellent source of protein and other essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, it also contains bacteria that’s good for your health, according to the American Society for Nutrition.

Frozen Fruit Cups

Serves 18

Ingredients:

  • 3 bananas, mashedsummer salad recipe
  • 24 oz. non-fat strawberry or plain yogurt
  • 12 large strawberries, sliced
  • 1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, undrained

Preparation:

  1. Line muffin tin(s) with 18 paper baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, mix mashed bananas, yogurt, strawberries, and pineapple.
  3. Spoon into muffin tins and freeze at least 3 hours or until firm.
  4. Remove frozen cups and store in a plastic bag in the freezer.
  5. Before serving, remove paper cups.  These are also great to throw into a fast smoothie.  Just add water or milk and blend them in your blender for a fast smoothie.

Another great thing about this recipe is you can use whatever fruits you like! What ingredients did you use?

Snap a pic and tag #healthypsu on Instagram or Twitter for your shot at becoming the featured image on the blog.

How to Stay Healthy at Summer Picnics

Picnics and barbeques are a fun summer tradition. These events are a great opportunity to socialize with friends and family.  Picnics and barbeques also present challenges when it comes to healthy eating and drinking.

Here are some helpful tips to work your way around a picnic table:

  • Avoid dips that are cream cheese, mayonnaise or sour cream based. Try other fresh dips like guacamole and homemade salsa or use plain greek yogurt as the base for your veggie dip. Sub out regular potato chips for baked chips or homemade tortilla chips (1).
  • Instead of preparing the usual potato or pasta salad with mayo, try making a fresh green salad with fruit or a pasta salad full of fresh chopped vegetables with vinaigrette or Italian dressing. These types of salads are packed with nutrients and the ingredients don’t spoil as quickly in the hot sun.
  • Tired of hamburgers and hot dogs? Beef burgers can easily be replaced with turkey, chicken or even veggie burgers.  Tuna steaks are a great alternative to regular steaks and are full of healthy fats and proteins (2). Kebobs are great for grilling.  You can make them with almost anything and the size helps you be mindful of portion sizes.

Drinking:

  • Sodas and juices are always available at picnics. Both are tempting, but are loaded with sugar.  If you are looking for an alternative to sugar and caffeine, try seltzer water mixed with 100% fruit juice for a light fizzy drink. You can even opt for fruit-infused ice water for a refreshing drink.
  • If you do choose to drink at a picnic make sure you stay hydrated by drinking a glass of water for every standard drink. Alcohol and hot temperatures cause fluid loss and can lead to dehydration.  It is also important to have a plan for how you will get home safely if you are drinking.  Don’t drink and drive!  Keep in mind that if you are boating and/or swimming alcohol affects your judgement, balance, reaction time and increases risk taking.
  • Hydration seems to be key on a hot summer day! With plenty of activities going on at a picnic it can be easy to forget to drink water. The recommendations for how much water you should consume per day vary by sex and exercise level.  You should drink more on especially hot days or if you are really active outside.  Heat exhaustion is real, so be aware of your water intake.

As with everything, moderation is your best bet for a happy and healthy summer. Enjoy!

  1. EatingWell Magazine. (2012, May). Retrieved from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/248363/tortilla-chips/
  2. Health Benefits of Tuna and Salmon. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2017, from https://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Protein/Article-Viewer/Article/89/Health-Benefits-of-Tuna-and-Salmon.aspx