Eating Healthy while at Home for the Holidays

Hi again! While many of my posts relate to staying healthy at college, this post will talk about taking what you’ve learned home with you on winter break since it is right around the corner. Whether you’re a Health Promotion and Wellness major, someone who reads my blog posts, or someone who has been trying to become more healthy, I’m sure you have learned a thing or two about healthy eating and many of you have probably applied it to your daily life. It can be challenging to take these methods and implement them at home, at least for some of us (i.e. myself).

The way you eat at home and the way you eat at school can be polar opposites. Either you buy your own groceries or eat at the dining hall while at college. That is a very controllable situation. At home, you might also buy your own groceries, or maybe your parents buy the groceries and cook for you, or maybe your parents may order food for dinner on some nights. The possibilities are endless, and without some sort of consistency, it can feel like an uncontrollable situation if you are someone who is trying to eat healthy.

For me, it’s very inconsistent, my parents love cooking healthy meals, but they definitely don’t want to cook every single night. I step in sometimes and offer to cook dinner, but a lot of the time, I find myself very lazy at home during winter break. Sometimes, my parents will get lazy with making the next grocery shopping trip and there won’t be much to eat in the house. Well, you can’t just keep complaining to your parents to keep providing you with healthy meals; we have to take some initiative! Having me complain about the groceries that we have or the meals that we eat is the last thing my parents want to hear, obviously. Instead of complaining, here is what I’ve learned to do over the years:

  • Offer to grocery shop for your parents if they are busy and can’t get the next week’s groceries in a timely fashion.
  • If your parents make a grocery list, ask if you can add a few staple items on there for yourself (i.e. things to put in a salad, organic, steel-cut oatmeal, maybe some salmon, etc.). Offering them some money, if possible, for the extra items on the list is never a bad idea either.
  • Help your parents prepare meals! Maybe your parents are sauteing vegetables in butter and you know that this could be a healthier choice by steaming the vegetables instead. Suggest it and then step in to help if they’d like.
  • I find that when I’m laying around all day at home whilst on winter break, I don’t have that much motivation to prepare myself healthy meals. On the other hand, when I am seeing friends and family, going to the gym, and staying active, I find that I don’t mind cooking and taking time to prepare myself healthy, satiating meals.
  • On Thanksgiving and Christmas, don’t worry about limiting yourself! Those are just two days. Maybe don’t stuff yourself to the point of being very uncomfortable, but don’t stress yourself out if you want another slice of pie but you think it’s “not healthy”. Go ahead, eat your grandmother’s pie and be happy.

 

Excited for Thanksgiving?? Me too!

 

 

 

 

Staying Healthy on the Go!

If you’re anything like me, you’re running around all week going to classes, your internship, working at your job, doing homework, working out, and trying to maintain some sort of social life. It’s a lot, I know! Some people do even more than that which is just insane. That’s how college is! Trying to complete all of these tasks can be overwhelming. You may have noticed there were a few things missing from the list mentioned above; eating, sleeping and self-care!

It’s VERY important to take care of yourself whenever life gets hectic. Sometimes, a few days will go by where my face is stuck in my planner and I’m really doing nothing else but schoolwork. At the end of that stretch of days, I take a look in the mirror and realize that I haven’t been taking care of myself. This could include not cooking myself quality meals, neglecting that random hangnail that’s been bothering me, and turning down my friends when they want to hang out. After I’ve made that realization, I’ll take the day or half the day (usually on the weekend) and take some time to do my nails, take a nice, hot shower, clean my room, spend some much needed time with friends, and try to get to bed a little earlier than usual.

You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned anything about nutrition yet. Well, here it is! The worst thing, in my opinion, that I do when I’ve got a lot going on is neglecting to prepare myself actual meals. Sometimes if I happen to stop home in between my classes and/or meetings, I generally don’t have that much time and will grab something quick like an apple and a granola bar. While that seems like a healthy snack, it’s certainly not enough for a meal. I’m usually organized and plan ahead, so this is not always what happens. But when I do have an apple and a granola bar for lunch and then try to go about the rest of my day, I find myself unable to focus and sluggish.The moral of the story is that it’s much more beneficial to eat regular meals throughout your busy day than just small snacks, or worse, nothing. This will give you the fuel you need to get through the rest of the day and keep you focused in class or at the library. Your brain will thank you. If you struggle like I do to find time in the day to eat regular meals, here are a few tips to combat this:

  • Plan ahead!
    • If you live off campus, make your meals the night before a busy day and bring them with you to class, work, or the library.
    • If you live on campus and know you won’t be able to make it to the dining hall for lunch, have the dining hall staff prepare you a bagged lunch at breakfast so that you can bring it to class with you. You can also get a bagged dinner made for you at lunch. It takes all of ten minutes, trust me!
  • Pick a day on the weekend and do some light meal prepping. You don’t have to go all out, but you can make something in a large quantity and put the leftovers in the fridge. Some examples include pasta, salad, and chicken with brown rice and vegetables. Sometimes, I will even boil a bunch of potatoes so I can easily heat them up to add to my eggs at breakfast or with my salmon at dinner.
  • If you live off campus, bring some extra cash with you to campus and check out any of the cafes located in the academic buildings. I have an 8 AM class in Shineman and I don’t always wake up early enough to make myself breakfast. If I did happen to miss breakfast, I’ll stop at Fusion on my way out of class and grab a multigrain bagel with cream cheese which costs under $3.00.
  • Make sure you’re carrying around a water bottle throughout the day! Hydration also contributes to your level of focus. There’s nothing worse than being hungry and dehydrated!

Now, try to take this message and utilize these tips to make your busy days a little less daunting. Taking care of yourself goes a long way. I don’t always practice what I preach in these blog posts, but I try to! And when I’m able to wake up after a nice 8 hours of sleep, eat substantial, healthy meals throughout the day, and maybe hang out with my friends after the day is over, it makes my busy days not seem so busy after all.

How to Eat Healthy in the Dining Hall

Oh how I miss eating in the dining hall sometimes. There are just some nights that I do not want to cook! The dining hall is a great tool for us busy college students. The service is quick and there is even an option to get a bagged meal to take with you to class if you can’t make it to lunch or dinner. There are so many different options at every meal that it can be hard to decide what to eat most of the time!

 

Before coming to college, my parents would make very healthy meals for my brother and I and we rarely had snacks or treats in the house. When I arrived at college, I couldn’t believe my eyes at the amount of desserts, cereal, pizza, pasta and other food that was available every single day. It was hard not want to eat these foods every day. But eating these foods every day can come with a price.

 

Many new students succumb to the “freshman 15” when they arrive at college. I gained 10 pounds of the freshman 15 and that was enough to make me want to change. The dining hall is not trying to sabotage incoming freshmen with all of these unhealthy choices they have available. In fact, they don’t have to be considered unhealthy if they’re eaten in moderation!

 

It’s perfectly fine to indulge in the oreo pie or chocolate chip cookies as long as it’s not every night. And there are other small things that you can do to healthily navigate the dining hall.

 

 

Here’s what I started doing in my sophomore year:

  • I opted for coffee, hot tea, or water instead of juice or soda – One of the easiest things you can do to limit your sugar intake is to avoid sugary beverages and yes, juice has a crazy amount of sugar in it. Also, while making my daily coffee or tea, I would have it with a minimal amount of creamer or even black.
  • I tried to have a salad at least every other day – The salad bar contains a variety of vegetables, seeds/nuts, and other toppings to put in your salad. But try not to get carried away! If you’re putting a ridiculous amount of dressing or croutons on your salad, is it still a salad? Instead of creamy dressings, I always pick balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • At late night, I would try my best to grab from the fruit bar instead of the main line. That didn’t happen all the time, but it helps if you’re not eating pizza and mac and cheese wedges every night.

 

These are just a few tips to make eating healthy in the dining hall easier. Now the next time you’re in the dining hall, maybe later tonight, give it a try!

Pathfinder Dining Hall.

Eating Healthy while Living Off Campus

Do you live off campus and find yourself not eating as well as you could? I know grocery shopping can be annoying or maybe even confusing, but it’s vital! A common myth is that healthier food is more expensive, and I’d have to disagree. Think of a bag of chips. At Walmart, they might have two family size bags of Lays for $5 if you’re lucky. I could buy 3-4 bags of carrots with that money. I spend about $30-$40 a week, which is a lot less than what some of my friends spend.

Here’s what’s typically on my grocery list:

  • Spinach (Aldi)
  • Carrots (Aldi)
  • Mini portabella mushrooms (Aldi)
  • Cherry tomatoes (Aldi)
  • Avocado (1)(Aldi)
  • Honeycrisp apples (2)(Aldi)
  • Frozen raspberries (Aldi)
  • Frozen peas and/or mixed vegetables (Aldi)
  • Eggs (Aldi)
  • 100% Whole wheat bread (Aldi)
  • Whole wheat wraps (Aldi)
  • Whole wheat pasta (Aldi)
  • Salmon fillets (Aldi)
  • Marinara sauce (Aldi)
  • Tortilla chips (Aldi)
  • Salsa (Aldi)
  • Organic granola bars (Aldi)
  • Almond milk (Aldi)
  • Sweet potatoes (Walmart)
  • Amy’s gluten free/vegan frozen burritos (2)(Walmart)
  • Pizza dough (Walmart)
    • Cheese (I try to stay away from dairy, but I buy this when I want to make pizza)

This list lasts me all through the week, however, it doesn’t include random things I may need every once in a while such as olive oil or condiments. Also, the food I enjoy eating may not be what you like so our lists may vary! Aldi is a great place to grocery shop. The prices are very fair, especially compared to Walmart. Also, many items from Aldi are organic and many of the items, such as the tortilla chips I buy, only have a few ingredients which I love.

Some of examples of meals I make for breakfast and lunch with the items on this list include scrambled egg wraps with spinach and mushrooms, avocado toast, and spinach salad with tomato, sunflower seeds, carrots and an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. A few meals for dinner include salmon with sweet potato fries and peas, pizza with red sauce, spinach, and mushrooms and cheese, and egg salad sandwiches if I’m feeling a little more lazy. Here’s a picture of my salmon, sweet potato fries, and peas dinner:

Salmon, sweet potato fries, and peas.

There are plenty of healthy snacks included in this list. I love the burritos also. I’ve never been a huge fan of frozen food, but the burritos at the end of the list are made with natural ingredients and are very good for you! At the end of my busiest days, when I have the least motivation to cook, I’ll make one of these instead and pair it with some salsa and maybe some carrots or some other vegetable option.

Grocery shopping doesn’t have to be this huge, daunting task! I even try to organize my lists based on what I will run into first in the aisles at the grocery store. There are various small tips and tricks you can learn to become a more efficient grocery shopper, but the most important skill I’ve learned is bringing in all the bags at one time. No way am I making two trips, ha! Now make a list and stay focused; you’re gonna do great!

Meet nutrition intern Sara

Hello! My name is Sara Meal. Yes, that is my actual last name and I am currently a Nutrition Education intern for the Registered Dietitian on campus, Kathryn Szklany. I am interning for the Fall semester and so far, I love it! I am a senior Health Promotion and Wellness major with a minor in Nutrition. I enjoy learning about nutrition and health in general, and this internship has allowed me to apply the knowledge I’ve gained throughout my years spent at SUNY Oswego.

 

Some of the organizations I’m involved with on campus include the College/Community Orchestra, VEGA: Junior and Senior Women’s Honor Society, and Phi Kappa Phi. I am also starting my third year working at Pathfinder Dining Hall, and my first year there as a Group Leader. After I graduate this May, I intend to find a job in my field for a year, and then I will pursue a Master’s Degree in Health Administration while still working part time.

Sara during her trip to Italy last March. This photo was taken in Venice.