Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Healthy eating in college is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Spring has Sprung for Fruits and Vegetables

With Spring here, a larger variety of fruits and vegetables are available once again.  By eating and cooking in season, you will discover produce has more flavor and can even be more budget friendly.

It is a great time to experiment with new recipes.  Fruits and vegetables make great side dishes and main dishes.

Looking for ways to get started? Try one of these ideas:

  1. Plan one new recipe a week and build from there.
  2. Host a potluck with “fruits and veggies” as the theme.
  3. Visit local farmer’s markets
  4. Check out these free cookbooks at ChooseMyPlate.gov

Added Sugars

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines included for the first time a recommendation for added sugar.  Added sugar specifically refers to sugars and syrups added to foods during processing*.  The Guidelines recommend that no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugar.  This translates to 12 teaspoons of sugar or 50 grams daily.  Keep in mind, a 12 ounce can of regular soda contains 40 grams of added sugar.

So, what does this mean for your diet?

  • Choose water, milk or calorie-free beverages instead of sugary sodas, sport drinks and blended coffees.
  • Select breakfast cereal carefully. Even ones that say “healthy” can contain added sugar.
  • Read food labels. Added sugar goes by lots of different names with the most common being: cane juice and syrup, corn sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate and nectars, honey, malt syrup, molasses, brown sugar and agave.
  • Keep your diet rich in fruits, vegetables and dairy. They contain natural sugars, not added sugar.

By 2018, all food manufacturers are required to use new food labels (see picture below) which include a line for added sugars.

Current Label                   New Label

*Source: Mayo Clinic

The Student Farm at Penn State

A grant from the Sustainability Institute in 2013 prompted the planning process for a student-run farm. Today, the Student Farm celebrates 1 year! The Student Farm focuses on sustainable food and is in their second growing season. In the beginning phases of development, community stakeholders envisioned the farm as a gathering place where students and community members meet to learn and work in partnership to resolve real-world challenges. The mission of the student-centered sustainable farm and sustainable food and systems program is to increase local food access, enhance food systems education and cultivate a sense community. The Student Farm has definitely accomplished this mission!

The 2016 Sustainable Food Systems Program touts the following metics:  300+ hours of community engagement, 500 students have helped on the farm, 450 cardboard boxes have been replaced by reusable bins, over 900 tomato plants have been planted. Student Farm interns play an integral role.  In fact, Housing and Food Services contributed $32,000 to provide stipens for five student interns to manage the farm. Get ready for the Student Farm Club plant sale to be held in April (Date TBD), held across from the Creamery on Curtin Road.

Healthy Living Starts With You

UHS offers a 12-week weight management program for students.  Participants will meet with a registered dietitian six times to discuss personal dietary and fitness goals.  Students with the following health needs are encouraged to enroll in the program:

  • Prediabetes
  • Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Overweight/Obese
  • Metabolic Syndrome

This is a great time to start building healthy habits for life! Learn more by calling 814.863.0461 to make an appointment.

How to Manage Holiday Eating

The holidays are around the corner, which can mean parties and gatherings centered on food.  Are you wondering how you will maintain healthy eating while indulging in some of your favorite holiday foods?  First, keep in mind that one treat, one meal, or one day of eating differently will not drastically change your health.  On occasion, it is important to treat yourself and enjoy your favorite foods.   Moderation is key.  A healthy diet isn’t void of rich decadent desserts or butter laden casseroles.   Here are a few tips to help keep your food choices nutritious and your treats in moderation during the holiday season:

  1. Eat only when you are hungry, not when food is near.
  2. Use a plate, even when snacking; it will help you eat less.
  3. Don’t skip meals. This will lead to overeating at meal times because you are so hungry.
  4. Eat more slowly and savor each bite.
  5. Pay attention to flavors, textures, and temperatures for more satisfaction in your eating.

Finals Week Wellness

It’s been a long semester and you’ve studied hard.  Now it’s time to cap off the semester by doing well on final exams and projects.  A lot of students associate finals week with all-nighters, constant studying, and plenty of coffee.  These behaviors can actually be detrimental to your academic performance.  Here are ways to take care of your mind and body so that you can do your best on finals.

  1. Sleep

Sleep deprivation affects not only your energy level and mood, but also your ability to concentrate, learn, and focus.  As finals week approaches, maintain a regular sleep pattern and aim for 7-9 hours per night.  For more restful sleep, avoid alcohol and stop drinking caffeine at least six hours prior to your typical bed time.

  1. Get your nutrients

Antioxidants from fruits and vegetables help keep your brain healthy.  Throw an apple or a banana in your backpack before you head out to study or have a salad with your next slice of pizza.  Most importantly, do not skip meals.

  1. Be active

Physical activity is not just good for your body, but also for your brain.  Endorphins released in the brain during physical activity can reduce tension, improve mood, and increase brainpower.  Take a walk, turn your music on and dance, or take some time to stretch.  If you exercise regularly, keep it up!  You’ll reap the benefits more than ever this week.

Staying Motivated

Trying to lose weight because of a medical condition? Consider visiting a dietitian in the Nutrition Clinic at University Health Services (UHS).  UHS has a Weight Management Program that is specifically designed to help students who need to lose weight due to health needs.  So far, students who have enrolled in the program find it rewarding.

Losing weight takes time, so it’s normal to question your ability to continue to make positive change. The following strategies will help increase your chances of successful weight loss.

  1. Find your inner motivation: find the “thing” that will give you the burning drive to stick to your weight-loss plan
  2. Set realistic goals: make small changes every day that will lead to big results in the long run.
  3. Remember your priorities: set priorities that support a healthy lifestyle and that promote lasting change.
  4. Focus on progress, not perfection: see every snack and every meal as a new opportunity to make a healthy choice.
  5. Celebrate achievement: recognize and be proud of your progress by using mini rewards. For example, buy yourself fitness gear; go to a sporting event, concert or movie with friends when you consistently eat 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily for a month.
  6. Patience: remember, evidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off(1).

(1) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html

Stress, Food and Exercise During the Holidays

Do the holidays create stress for you?  Do you feel pressure to overeat at meals and parties?  Here are ways you can incorporate a variety of nutritious foods and activity during this busy time of year:

  • Keep healthy snacks with you, for example, fruit and cheese, peanut butter and crackers, yogurt
  • Eat consistently to avoid getting over-hungry
  • Drink sparkling water instead of eggnog, beer and mixed drinks
  • Bring a healthy dish to share at parties
  • Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full
  • Make time to exercise. It’s a great way to relieve stress
  • Go for a walk before or after a holiday party or get together
  • Fill up on nutrient dense foods including fruit, vegetables, whole grain breads and crackers, lean meats and cheeses

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,  www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/fruits_vegetables.html