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Choosing The Lesser Evil… Which is Better?

March 7, 2011

One of the best parts of being away at school is the ability to make choices independent from your parents. Food and drink options are included in the realm of indecision, and students may become distraught when choosing which option is healthier. Below are some common nutritional showdowns that students are confronted with on a daily basis.

Diet Coke vs. Coffee

 

Caffeine is never a healthy option when compared to water, but sometimes you just need to get your fix. Although diet coke may seem like the better choice due to its calorie content of zero, but diet soda is full of chemicals and recent studies have linked it to weight gain and stroke. Coffee, on the other hand, has been shown to increase metabolism, and coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of liver and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Just don’t go crazy with the cream and sugar!

 

Wrap vs. Sandwich

Both are widely available on college campuses and can come with a variety of contents from Thai chicken to ham and cheese. Obviously the healthier choice depends on the insides, but when it comes to a decision of wrapping up your turkey, cheddar and tomato in a wheat tortilla or sandwiching it between two slices of wheat bread, the latter is the better option. The generic brand of wheat tortillas (and lets face it, most campuses use generic products) can include oils that give it that density and the high carbohydrate content.

Pretzels vs. Baked Chips

 

It seems that most meal plan packages include the choice of chips as a side. Although traditionally pretzels have seemed healthier than regular potato chips, baked chips are the better option. With half the calories and half the carbohydrates and an alarmingly less amount of sodium (the baked chips have 700mg less!), baked chips can be good in moderation as a crunchy sidekick to a sandwich.

 

 

Goat Cheese vs. Cow Cheese

As a topping on salads or an addition to a sandwich, cheeses are an important part of the american diet. Cow’s milk cheeses are more available on college campuses then goat cheese, but if you can alternate goat cheese for any cow cheeses, do it. Goat cheese is easier to digest and less likely to have hormones, plus it is typically lower in calories, fat content, and cholesterol. Try adding goat cheese to a spinach salad with strawberries, pistachios, grilled chicken and drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette!

Yogurt & Granola vs. Milk and Cereal

Two breakfast essentials, these options are typically the go-to for on the go college students. Of course, as with all things, it depends on the type of cereal (put down the Lucky Charms), milk (choose skim!), yogurt, and granola (skip the sugary stuff), but the nutritional match up is a close one. Granola can be higher in calories, but the protein in yogurt and the fiber in granola will keep you full longer. Plus, when was the last time you were satisfied by one bowl of cereal? Healthy in College loves Bakery on Main granola (Gluten Free!) paired with Greek yogurt.

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The College Breakfast

February 19, 2011

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

This notion has been ingrained in everyone’s brains, either by our parents as they shove a NutriGrain bar in our hands, or by our seventh grade health teachers when they actually focused on a subject in class that didn’t make everyone squirm.

But, when mom isn’t around, and you are long past feeling awkward about those lessons in 7th grade health class, breakfast seems unnecessary and it is often neglected. Not to mention, most options for breakfast on college campuses are unhealthy or laden with carbs.

So, as college students, should we just give up on breakfast all together? Luckily, thanks to new health regulations and Government-backed programs, fast food places are creating new, healthy alternatives to the muffin, bagel, or greasy breakfast sandwich. Fast food restaurants seem to be plentiful near college campuses, making these healthy alternatives easily accessible and cheap.

 

 

Instead of: Breakfast Burrito

Choose This: Starbucks Egg White, Spinach, and Feta Wheat Wrap

No matter if you attend school in Connecticut or Alaska, there is a high chance that there is a Starbucks relatively close to your college campus. The coffee chain has recently introduced several healthy breakfast options that are excellent alternatives to the greasy sandwich. This wrap is low in calories and fat and with the combination of protein and complex carbohydrates makes it satisfying as well.

 

 

 

Instead of: Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich

Choose this: Subway Western Egg and Cheese on English Muffin

That mouth-watering combination of meat, egg and cheese is unbeatable. But, it can be coated in grease and sandwiched between a buttery croissant. The Subway version of the classic greasy combines Ham, cheese, and egg whites on a wheat english muffin, and is equally as appetizing. With only 4 grams of fat and under 200 calories, the nutritional value is satisfying as well!

 

 

Instead of: Cereal

Choose this: McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

Now, there is nothing wrong with cereal if it is made with whole grains and partnered with skim milk. However, cereal doesn’t always keep you full, and after a couple of classes your stomach may be grumbling for more food. Hot oatmeal sticks in the stomach for longer, and the McDonald’s version has dried cranberries, raisins, apples to add antioxidants to your meal. Oatmeal, as long as it is low in sugar, can be a healthy pick and is readily accessible in many college dining halls.

What To Do When You Catch The Flu

February 8, 2011

Being sick while away at college is the pits. Your mommy is not around to comfort you, you are put in quarantine due to the rapid rate at which sickness spreads at university, and on top of everything you get behind in school work. Unfortunately, the only thing that you can do to get better is to rest and relax. You may not feel like doing much of anything the first few days, but by the fourth day you may be going a little stir crazy, so try out these simple things to keep you busy.

Shopping From Bed

Flu Season does seem to conveniently coincide with post-holiday blues. Fortunately, there are some things that last longer than leftovers and Christmas cookies: gift cards. College students seem to hoard gift cards, but being sick can be the perfect time to shop online. Look ahead to the Spring and Summer and utilize those gift cards you received during Christmas.

Stumble Upon

If shopping isn’t your thing, check out a website that can keep you busy for hours. Stumble Upon is a website in which you input your interests and it generates random websites that will satisfy your curiosity.

Find New Music

There are few things better than a brand new playlist full of recently released songs. While you are sick, take the opportunity to catch up with the music world, and  make a playlist for a run or for a party that you can attend when you are better by finding new songs on free distributor websites. My personal favorites are Fresh On Campus and Fresh New Tracks. Both sites provide the newest tracks from popular and newly discovered artists. Check out The College Cartel for a compilation of new tracks released by these sites and others.

New Seasons on Hulu

Chock-full of soap operas and talk shows, daytime television is not meant for college students. I know it seems obvious, but check out Hulu for seasons of your favorite shows. Maybe try out some new shows by looking through the 25 best television series of 2010 courtesy of the A.V. club.

Take the Time to Get Organized

Remember the last time you forgot about the quiz in Biology? Or when your mom called yelling that you never called your Grandma on her birthday? Take this opportunity to do a mindless yet very helpful task: writing important dates down. Maybe you already do this, and more power to you, but most college students never get around to writing out their assignments and dates ahead of time. So, take this time to peer through your syllabus, look at the school calendar, and call your relatives. If you’re going to be sick, might as well get ahead!

Revamp Your Resolutions

December 29, 2010

By Sandy Sfikas, RD, LDN

Doesn’t it feel like less and less of us are making New Year’s resolutions these days? It could be because at times they’re nothing more than obligatory and far-fetched vows like these: “I won’t eat late at night anymore!” Or, “I’ll exercise every morning at 6am, no matter what.” They sound like empty promises, right? Even if your intentions are positive, if you have no plan as to how to achieve your resolutions, they’re likely to flop. Think about what’s really important to you and design a plan to go and get it. Here are some suggestions for realistic and achievable resolutions, along with ways to succeed:

  1. I will not stuff myself at every meal.

Plan: I will eat every 3-4 hours so I don’t get over hungry. I’ll carry around healthy snacks and remind myself that I’m keeping my energy and metabolism steady throughout the day.

  1. I will eat breakfast every morning.
    Plan: I’ll create 3 different simple morning meals so that I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat.
  2. I won’t raid the kitchen at bedtime. Plan: I will try other tactics to escape my cravings like brushing my teeth, taking a bath, or enjoying a cup of hot tea.
  3. I will exercise 3-4 days per week, every week.  Plan: I will carry my exercise clothes with me in the car at all times. In addition, I’ll plan to do something different like a pilates or yoga class once a week.
  4. I will eat more fruit (this is my resolution!).
    Plan: I’ll keep fresh and frozen fruit in the house at all times. I’ll research what fruits are in season during the year and try one new fruit each month. (I even have an app on my phone that tells me what’s in season every month and how to enjoy it!)

Once you’re following a plan, find ways to reward yourself for your hard work (not with food!). Buy a new exercise shirt or get a massage. In addition, forgive yourself for any mishaps. Resolutions are just goals to help you live a healthier and happier life. Focus on the positive, and the rest will fall into place. Happy New Year!

Sandy Sfikas is a registered dietitian, who in addition to seeing clients, is the editor of a international diabetes magazine. She has both a nutrition and journalism degree, and has worked in clinical settings as well as health clubs. She feels fortunate to have a career and clients that motivate her to continue to advance her knowledge of nutrition and wellness.

 

Staying Healthy In College; Bro Edition

November 30, 2010

I’m going to introduce myself through this first blog with a simple profiling of myself; My name is Harry and I’m a frat bro. That’s all there is to know.  I actually write to you tonight after a long day of crushing two kegs with friends on a typical fraturday in the fall. True story. Let’s be real though, being healthy and being a ‘Frat Star’ doesn’t mix,  but is possible to at least keep yourself from looking like John Belushi in Animal House with a little bit of proper eating and exercise routine.

If your school is anything like mine, the girls fill the gyms and are obsessed with their image while the health of bro’s is overlooked, and frankly, no one cares what we look like. Minus the few hardcore jersey shore cast lookalikes who spend every waking hour in the gym, it’s usually girls working out. But let’s face, any self-respecting guy isn’t going to waste his life away working on his pecs and watching his diet. If you’re anything like me, you have a life, and a life means you can’t always go to gym or make healthy eating choices every day.

There are, however, solutions to this fundamental dilemma of food choices that college bros face on a daily basis. Should I snag a quick piece of pizza? Or take a few extra minutes for a healthier alternative? Should I drink that next beer? Or should I cut myself off?  There are so many bad choices offered to us that it makes the healthy choices seem unappealing. Nevertheless, I write to you as an example of a bro who has mastered the art of being (somewhat) healthy in college. I’ve hardly gained weight since my glory years in high school where I actually played sports other than beer pong (or Beruit for you Northerners). I work out 5 days a week on average and love trying to stay in shape.

Let me end this blog with a simple message. If you’re a college bro out there struggling to manage your health, find a girl, or keep your grades up, there are answers. And I have them.

This blog was written by our newest guest writer, Harry. He is a fraternity brother at a University, and is from Virgina. Look out for more posts from Harry soon.

How to Steer Clear of the Cold-Weather Pudge

November 16, 2010

The summer has officially left  depending on where you go to school, as the days are getting shorter and the temperature seems to be consistently dropping, but that doesn’t mean your waistline has to suffer. By following some of these simple rules during the cold-weather months, you can avoid gaining the winter bulge and come out looking and feeling good once the sun decides to share its warmth again.

Hot Beverages

Sometimes the days are so cold that your bones ache, making you crave something that can warm your entire body. You may be tempted to grab something rich and comforting, but by sticking to a simple hot tea you can reap health benefits, such as getting water, and get warm. Need caffeine? Skip the calorie-packed blended seasonal coffee beverages (like Starbuck’s White Chocolate Mocha which can come in at 420 calories for a tall) and stick to black and green teas, which have virtually no calories.

Walk to Class

Although it seems like the last thing you would like to do is walk to class in the chilly, dark morning, your body will thank you later. For many students, this may be a mile walk that they enjoy during the warm seasons, but they despise in the cold. But, if you layer up and walk briskly, a morning walk in the cold can be surprisingly refreshing and will cause your body and mind to wake up.

Don’t Go Carb Crazy

It seems the body craves carbs as much as it craves warmth in the cold weather months. There is nothing wrong with carbs in moderation, but remember your eating patterns in the summer months when dining during the winter months. Summer is full of salads and grilled meats and veggies, while winter meals tend to be made of pastas, pot-pies and warm bread. Be mindful, and your body will be happy come spring break!

Don’t Forget About The Gym

It is difficult to motivate to work out in the winter months when the short days and long nights cause you to just want to hibernate. However, if you stop exercising for a time being, your body will reflect it post-groundhog day. Exercising will also keep the winter “blahs” away, and cause you to be more focused and happy. Need more motivation? Plan your gym visit around a T.V. program that you want to watch. Have a hockey or basketball game you can’t wait to catch? Plan to run on the treadmill during the game instead of watching it from the couch and you will get the best of both worlds.

Do At Home Exercises

For many students, the cold can be simply unbearable. If this is the case, it is easy to find exercises online that you can do at home. Even doing twenty push ups and fifty sit ups can help you stay in shape and battle the bulge. It can be as easy as doing a plank while watching The Simpsons, or doing a wall sit when watching the Lakers. A little bit goes a long way.

Play an Intramural Sport

Most Universities offer intramural sports to all students. They can be fun, non competitive, but still a good work out. By joining a sport, you not only get to socialize with other students, but you also make a commitment that you have to fulfill. It is hard to skip out of a game when a team is depending on you, and that way you will be forced to get in a work out that day.


How to Stack Your Dorm Fridge: The healthiest and tastiest snacks

October 25, 2010

It is three in the morning, and you are slaving over a rhetorical analysis while simultaneously trying to memorize calculus proofs when all of a sudden it hits: that intense hunger pang that strikes out of no where. It seems that late at night all your body craves is grease and sugar, so fill your cabinet with these healthy snacks that you can indulge without feeling guilty.

 

Pop Chips

“Love, without the handles” is a trademark motto of these chips, and they live up to this standard. Popped, not baked or fried, these chips are crunchy and come in a wide variety of flavors. Check them out here.

 

Green Bean Chips

Unbelievable crunchy, salty and sweet, these things are addicting. Available at health food stores  and also the recipe for making them yourself here.


Sweet Potato Fries

You can buy these at most supermarkets and just pop them in the oven. Or you can make your own by cutting a sweet potato into wedges, tossing in olive oil and sea salt, and cook in the oven for about 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees, flipping them halfway through.


Dark Chocolate Covered Powerberries

If you are looking for a pick-me-up, these indulgent treats will give you the kick you need due to the natural caffeine in dark chocolate. The juices in the berries are acai, pomegranate, cranberry and blueberry, and they are the perfect mixture of sweet and tangy. Pick them up at Trader Joes (Trader Joe’sbrand) or Costco (Brookside farms brand).


Pirates Booty

This puffy snack is all-natural, baked, trans fat and gluten-free, with only 130 calories per serving.Available in yummy flavors such as aged white cheddar, new york pizza and “Burrrrrbeque”, there is something for everyone. Look out for Pirate Brand’s other snacks, Potato Flyers, with ½ the fat of normal potato chips.

Lettuce Wrap

Roll avocado, turkey, cheese and a bit of balsamic vinegar into a piece of lettuce (from a head) to create a healthy and satisfying snack wrap.

 

 

Yummy Earth Organic Vitamin C Lollipops

Available in a variety pack of many flavors, these lollipops are gluten, nut, soy, wheat, dairy, casein and GMO free. They is also no corn syrup and have added vitamin C. Did we mention they are tasty as well?

 

 

Ciao Bella Sorbet

Unbelievably decadent in a multitude of flavors, this sorbet is sweet and tangy and almost all of them are fat-free and relatively low in calories. Some schools sell it in their convenience stores as well for those who are vegan.

 

Kind Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Bars

Just the name makes it sound like an indulgence, but this is one indulgence you will not feel guilty about. Because it includes 50% of the daily value of antioxidants, four grams of protein and three grams of fiber it is a tasty treat that is doing your body good. It is an excellent mix of flavors and is perfect for the health conscious chocolate lover.