Increasing Your Metabolism

“I need to start a diet”, is a phrase you’ve probably heard countless times. You may have even looked into starting a diet yourself, but quickly come to the realization that you are way over your head in too many diet fads to choose from. Ketogenic, paleo, Atkins, mediterranean, vegan, low-fat, low-carb, gluten-free….. I can keep going. So it leaves people too frustrated to even try. Most of these diets want you to limit your simple sugars, eat more lean proteins and focus on vegetables. This is an important step to a healthy diet, but have you ever stopped to think about how much our behavior directly impacts our physical health as well?

Recent research suggests that not only what we eat, but also when we eat has a significant impact on weight loss and physical health. Think of this for a moment – you roll out of bed and decide you’re too tired to grab something to eat and you head to class, noon comes around and you grab something small from the nearest food vendor before your next class, then dinner arrives and you prepare the biggest plate of food and feast until you are completely full (which by the way is considered bingeing and is bad for your digestive health). Do you see the problem? No it’s not just because you skipped breakfast; you consumed the greatest amount of calories for one day’s time right before you settle in for the night. The majority of Americans eat this way due to our demanding lifestyles and tight schedules; is it a habit we should consider changing? I would argue, YES!

Research also finds that our metabolism gradually increases throughout the day and peaks during midday, approximately from 10am-2pm. After this, our metabolism slowly decreases as the day wanes and we start to wind down for the evening. Why does this occur? Well, it is suggested that our metabolic processes are intimately linked with our sleep/activity cycles, in that our metabolism is at its highest when our body is the most “awake”. What does this mean? It’s suggested that we should consume more calories during the time-period in which our metabolism is at its highest, which is usually right around midday. So, researchers found that people who eat 50% of their daily calories around lunch time, while reserving 25% each for breakfast and dinner, are likely to lose an average of 2 lbs. a week just by switching the time of day they consume the most calories.

Now, don’t go out and tell people, “I found this article that says it doesn’t matter what you eat, you can lose weight by following this diet”, because the nutritional integrity of the food you replenish your body with will ALWAYS be of most importance to overall physical and mental health. So my advice is to eat healthy, 50% of your plate should consist of veggies and fruits (in that order), 25% protein, 25% grains, and a little bit of dairy on the side, and manage how many calories you are consuming. Give these recommendations a try (consult your doctor first), and see if it works for you!

Brain Food

Hello Everyone!

Welcome back from spring break! Hopefully everyone was able to take a much needed rest before diving head first into the 10 week stretch we have left before summer. At this point, we have been working and studying hard since the beginning of last semester, and as a result, many students may be feeling burnt out, tired, and having trouble keeping up with school work. I did some research to find out what kind of diet we should follow to help us power through the remainder of the semester.

 

Having trouble staying focused? A study, from UNSW Australia, found that diet-induced inflammation can influence how certain parts of the brain function. This research finds that a diet consistently high in saturated fats and refined sugars, causes inflammation of the hippocampus, which is responsible for converting short-term memory into long-term memory. In other words, junk food makes it harder for you to retain all that info you just listened to in class. Foods containing saturated fats and trans fats, as well as refined sugars, should be avoided as much as possible.

The Solution! According to a study from The New York Academy of Sciences, we should be consuming foods with good fats and vitamins that promote brain health. Omega-3 is a fatty acid that has been shown to have positive effects on the brain, and can be found in salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as flax seed, walnuts, and canola oil. Conveniently, these sources also contain high amounts of vitamins, including vitamins B6, B12, D, and E, which are also essential for better cognitive function.

The same study found that another important nutrient, flavonoids, have significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and are found mainly in fresh fruits and vegetables, tea, and dark chocolate. Flavonoids create the pigments in produce, so try to buy as many different colored fruits and vegetables as you can. Finally, exercise is important to cognitive function because it causes the release of a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, that stimulates the growth of new neurons. As you might be able to guess, this helps build stronger neuropathways for better memory.

To recap:

  1. Stay away from processed, fried, sugary, prepackaged, high-caloric, junk foods.
  2. Eat more Seafood (or legumes if you’re Vegan)! Seafood contains one of the highest amounts of Omega-3 and is much healthier than other meat products. Try grilling some salmon coated in black pepper and lemon juice with a side of sweet potato fries, or some hummus on multi-grain tortilla chips.
  3. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables! Slice up some bell pepper, celery, or carrots and dip it in peanut butter. Find a salad that you can enjoy, you don’t have to eat the “greenest” looking bowl out there just to be healthy; start small.
  4. Get out and exercise! The weather is getting nicer, so try taking a walk or going for a jog. Think….not only are you building muscles, you’re building a better capacity for memory.

    Picture of the brain at work.

Resources:

  • Beilharz, J. E., Maniam, J., & Morris, M. J. (2015, August 12). Diet-Induced Cognitive Deficits: The Role of Fat and Sugar, Potential Mechanisms and Nutritional Interventions. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/8/5307/htm
  • Tucker, K. L. (2016, April 26). Nutrient intake, nutritional status, and cognitive function with aging. Retrieved from https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nyas.13062

Snacking Tips for Studying

Hello Everyone!

Since it’s National Nutrition Month, I thought it would be a good idea to share some healthy snacking tips. Studying can be hard, and what we eat can influence how well we perform both physically and mentally. Many college students opt for snacks that are high in calories and full of additives, seasonings, and sugar, because it’s an instant reward; and let’s be real – junk food tastes like heaven, especially when we’re stressed and tired. So, here are some healthy and tasty snacks that you can reach for while you’re studying:

  1. Popcorn – In a 3 cup serving of air-popped popcorn there is 3 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber! This makes it a great source of fiber. Just make sure you don’t eat the highly salted and buttered version.
  2. Veggies – Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, celery, and bell peppers can provide that crunch you’re looking for. Add in some peanut butter or your fav dip and you’ll have a healthy snack!
  3. Pita Chips – These can be made from scratch or bought, and are a healthier alternative to potato chips. However, make sure you read the label before grabbing them off the shelf. Opt for the baked, not fried, varieties, and seasoned, not salted. Watch the fat and sodium amounts!
  4. Salted Cucumber Slices – Sprinkle a pinch of salt over some freshly sliced cucumber, and you have yet another crunchy and delicious snack. With just 16 calories in a cup of cucumber, it makes a great low-calorie food!
  5. Almonds – They are an excellent source of protein and fiber. Again, read the nutrition label! Many brands add a lot of salt to nuts.
  6. Trail Mix – This is another great option! However, you must be careful, as many trail mixes add too much sugar in the form of chocolate or candy.

Here are some delicious dip ideas:

  1. Salsa – It’s a great way to add some extra veggies to the diet, and it packs a lot of flavor!
  2. Hummus – I know…you’ve heard this one before. It lives up to its reputation though! Made with chickpeas, it makes a great source of plant-based protein!
  3. Guacamole – A yummy way to add that ever-popular avocado to your diet.
  4. Greek Yogurt – Try this as a dip for fruits or veggies. If you’re having tacos, throw some plain Greek yogurt on top instead of sour cream to cut out extra fat and provide more protein. Plus, no saturated fat!
  5. Low-Fat Dressing – If you absolutely can’t live without your favorite dressing, go for the low-fat or low-cal versions. Read the nutrition labels! Many store-bought dressings add too much sugar and fat so they can make a sale. Don’t let them fool you!

So while you’re gearing up for an upcoming exam or finals week, take a second to analyze food before you buy it. It’s a good idea to look at what emotions you might be feeling when you’re browsing as well. Are you feeling stressed, upset, sad, angry, maybe even happy or excited? Take time to analyze your feelings to keep yourself from emotionally-influenced eating so you don’t end up feeling guilty later on when warmer weather arrives! You can do it!!!

Sliced green bell pepper, celery, and carrots with peanut butter as a dip.

National Nutrition Month – March 2019

Hello Everyone!

Spring is just around the corner, on March 20th to be exact! It’s that time of the year again, to lose those extra pounds we gained from the winter holidays. The upcoming month of March has earned the official title of National Nutrition Month. It is a campaign, by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, that focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. In light of this, there will be a few events held on our campus to give students the opportunity to reflect on their health-related lifestyle choices. Kathryn Szklany, RD, in collaboration with the dining centers, has recently been working on adding more healthy menu options to the dining facilities. One of the new health food options that we will be sampling next month will include the ever-popular chia seed pudding. It is expected that by next fall the pudding, as well as some other new dishes, will be officially added to the menus, to include more options for vegan and gluten-free foods.

 

In honor of National Nutrition Month you will find us in the Marano Campus Center or one of our many dining centers.  Please feel free to stop by and try something new and play Spin to Win for fun prizes!

Below are the date, location, and time for the chia seed pudding samplings:

  • March 4th: MCC from 1:00-3:00pm
  • March 7th: Lakeside from 11:30am-1:30pm
  • March 12th: MCC from 11:30am-1:30pm
  • March 13th: Pathfinder from 1:00-1:30pm
  • March 14th: Cooper from 1:00-3:00pm
  • March 27th: Littlepage from 11:30am-1:30pm

Chia Seed Pudding topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries!

 

 

 

 

 

National Heart Health Month!

Did you know that February is National Heart Health Month? The goal of this month is to spread awareness about heart disease and how to prevent it. Why is this important? Current statistics estimate that every year in the United States, 1 in 4 deaths can be attributed to heart disease. If you’re a college student, you might be thinking, “I’m young, why should I be concerned about that right now?” The simple answer to that is people at every age should always monitor their health and manage their lifestyle in a healthy way. Making good lifestyle and diet choices at a younger age, greatly contributes to the delay, or even evasion, of these deadly heart diseases as well as others that come with age.

 

So, how can we take care of our heart through nutrition? Here are some tips for making heart healthy choices.

  1. Reduce Added Sugars: The American Heart Association recommends reducing overall added sugar consumption. Many processed foods contain added sugars, and a quick look at the nutrition label will tell you just how much you are getting per serving. Try finding alternative options that cut down on that added sugar, or better yet, go for the whole food alternative. Some of my favorite low sugar snacks are a part skim cheese stick with a clementine, celery with natural peanut butter and a few raisins and hard boiled eggs topped with guacamole.
  2. Limit Saturated Fats: The AHA also suggests limiting overall consumption of saturated fats (unhealthy fats) and increasing plant-based fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (healthy fats). Good sources of these heart healthy fats include; avocados, nuts, peanut butter, olive oil, and other vegetable oils. Remember, not all fats are bad, in fact they are very essential to proper absorption of certain nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K. Add 2% milk, avocados and trail mix to your grocery list to enjoy some healthy fats!
  3. Limit Salt Intake: Finally, AHA also says that limiting salt intake, especially from processed food sources, will greatly increase cardiovascular health. Keep in mind, too much salt in the diet results in excess fluids being contained in our blood vessels, this will result in high blood pressure. Try reaching for fresh seasonings instead of the salt shaker, cook with cilantro, scallions, cinnamon and cumin to add some extra flavor! Now that you’ve gained a little bit more information about good nutrition, think about what you’re eating before you grab it off the shelf and remember try to choose the options in the dining center with the heart next to them. Happy Heart Health Month!

 

                                      An info-graphic from the American Heart Association about processed food.

 

Nutrition at SUNY Oswego

Hello Everyone!

My name is Breonna Rawson and I am one of the new nutrition interns working with Kathryn Szklany, Registered Dietitian, this semester! I am excited to have the opportunity to share my passion about food and nutrition to my fellow classmates, and to get a closer look into the responsibilities of an on-campus registered dietitian. Currently, I am majoring in Biology and have a minor in Nutrition. I plan on completing a masters degree in Nutrition Science at Syracuse University to become an RD, once I have finished my BA at SUNY Oswego.

I do not live on campus, but I have been to the dining halls several times and was surprised by many of the healthy choices that were available despite my earlier suspicions. Being a commuter, I often find it difficult to set aside time at home where I can shop for and cook my own healthy meals. I hope to discuss with others the issues that college students face when trying to make healthy choices, and maybe discover other ways to help students maintain a well-rounded diet even amidst a stressful schedule and tight budget!

 

         A selection of foods and ingredients from my own kitchen!

 

Let’s talk about breakfast!

Let’s talk about breakfast; it’s my favorite meal of the day! Not only that, it’s so important too. What you eat in the morning can dictate what you eat for the rest of the day without you even realizing it. Here’s an example: Cereal is a quick and easy breakfast, but it’s also loaded with lots of sugar. The serving size is typically small, at least in my opinion. If you’re not correctly measuring out the recommended serving size, you may be ingesting a lot more sugar than you know. Now, everything is okay in moderation right? Yes. But if you are having cereal for breakfast every morning, you might want to opt for some other breakfast options and switch it up.

 

So, as mentioned above, cereals can have a lot of hidden sugar. When you wake up in the morning, your body has been fasting for at least eight hours and probably even more for a lot of people. If cereal is what you grab for right in the morning, you are going to spike your blood sugar levels. When people think of blood sugar, they often think of people with diabetes. People with diabetes definitely have to be more cautious of this, especially in the morning, but so do people living without diabetes. What this blood sugar spike means for people without diabetes is you are going to be hungry very soon again and you may crave more sugar throughout the day.

 

That being said, you may be wondering what you SHOULD eat for breakfast. I don’t eat cereal for breakfast; it’s just not enough. And I know I will be hungry again shortly after. Instead, I opt for breakfast options that contain complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. I rotate through these breakfast ideas throughout the week, and they keep me full and focused well until lunch time. Here are some examples:

 

  • 2 eggs with mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes on a whole wheat wrap
  • A whole wheat bagel with peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Slow-cooked, rolled oatmeal with almond milk, berries, peanut butter and chia seeds

 

These are not the end-all be-all choices, but they are healthy and satiating; feel free to give them a try. You won’t be disappointed! If you’re not convinced, here’s a picture of my omelet from a while back:

 

 

 

 

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.

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!