- Honor and listen to your body. Let your body be your guide for when you’re hungry (pro tip: eat then!) and when you’re full (pro tip: stop then!). All foods fit – so challenge the food police that join you at holiday meals. Restricting food ultimately means overindulging in foods – so give yourself unconditional permission to eat with attunement to your body.
- Savor the good. Whether it’s good food, a good conversation, a good run, a good night’s sleep – take time to savor the things that nourish you this holiday season.
- Move your body – ideally with people you adore. Find ways to keep active during the cooler times. Play some touch football. Run in a Jingle Bell Jog.
- Stay hydrated with water. Drinking enough water keeps your body healthy and hydrated. Carrying a reuseable bottle with you can help!
- Wash your hands. It’s still flu season y’all, and the holidays usually means crowds of people. Keep yourself and your loved ones healthier by washing your hands often.
- Connect. Relationships are complicated and very worth navigating complexity to reach connection. Remember what activities make you feel connected with the people you love and do a little extra of those.
- Give back. Brighten someone else’s day with a bit of holiday cheer in whatever way works for you.
For many people, the nutrition facts found on the back of food packages are confusing. They are meant for the general population, and thus cannot provide the information necessary for individual dietary needs. Your individual needs are based on your gender, age, size, physical activity level, and many other factors.
According to UNC Campus Health’s registered dietitian, most students only need to follow one simple rule to get nutritional needs met during finals and otherwise: MyPlate.
MyPlate is an easy nutrition guide. It reminds us to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, with the other half split equally with grains and protein. Following MyPlate means you’re more likely to eat balanced meals and snacks that meet your nutritional needs.
Think about a “typical” American breakfast. 1/2 of it as fruits and veggies? That’s not going to happen with a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, or a plate of bacon and eggs. Eating the nutrient-dense colorful fruits and veggies takes a bit of effort and creativity!
Some examples of a well-balanced meal:
- Spaghetti with heavy-on-the-veggies sauce and fruit
- Pizza with veggies on top and a salad on the side
- Eggs and bacon with roasted root veggies
- Quinoa salad
A well-balanced snack can use the Plate method as well, or think about making sure each snack has fat, fiber and protein.
- Yogurt and granola with berries on top
- Fresh veggies and hummus
- Almonds and kale chips
- Good ol’ raisins and peanuts
- Apple and nut butter
These can be tough to find on campus – so plan ahead and bring them with you!
Finals is a tough time, but will be even tougher if you don’t nourish your body and brain.
If you are interested in receiving more information about nutrition, make an appointment with Nutrition Services at Campus Health.
This post was adapted from one by Justin Chu, a former nutrition graduate student and program assistant at Student Wellness.
Are you considering a New Year’s resolution of weight loss? Or eating healthier? Or changing your exercise routine? Revolutionize your body – and your resolution – using the tips below.
Start with the right perspective
- Think of your body as an instrument instead of as an ornament. Be thankful every day for all of the wonderful things you can do such as dance, play, run, enjoy good food, and give hugs. Your body will continue helping you be healthy even if you don’t change a thing in 2018.
- Love yourself. You and your body work hard, every day, to move through life. Acknowledge and be grateful for all of that goodness. Studies show that people who hold their bodies in high regard are much more likely to take good care of their bodies.
- Change the messages you say to yourself. Identify the negative ways that you speak to yourself and make a decision to replace that self-talk with more realistic, loving, and positive statements. Tell yourself you are handsome, beautiful or strong, and mean it!
Fuel yourself, mindfully
- When you eat, be mindful. Focus on your food. Pick one place to sit down and eat (ideally, at home). Eating while doing other things like watching TV or reading can lead us to miss our body cues such as being satisfied or feeling actual hunger (rather than a craving). Use the principles of intuitive eating to help with this – many are included in this article.
- Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. It takes some time to re-learn the ability to hear your body cues. You can pause in the middle of eating to ask yourself how the food tastes and how full you are feeling. Same goes with a workout or an end-of-the-day activity – give yourself permission to stop when you need a rest.
- Choose foods that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel well. Incorporate nutrient-dense foods, foods that satisfy your hunger and foods that bring you pleasure. There is no forbidden food!
- Balance your plate with the right proportions of food. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the following:
- Half of your plate should be filled with low-starch vegetables (like broccoli, asparagus or Brussels sprouts)
- One fourth of your plate should have a high-protein food (like lean meat, poultry, fish, peanut butter, eggs or tofu)
- One fourth of your plate should have grains (like rice or bread) or starchy veggies (like potatoes or plantains).
- To round out your meal, add a glass of water or milk and a serving of fruit for dessert.
- Consider using smaller portions. Keeping tabs on your portion sizes helps you eat a diverse array of foods because you won’t fill up on a plate-sized anything. Try using your hands! Like a handful of potato chips or blueberries or a fist-sized portion of pasta or mashed potatoes.
Move your body more!
- Exercise to feel good and be healthy, not to lose weight or “make up for something you ate earlier.” Find fun ways to add more physical activity in your life, such as going for a walk with a friend or playing basketball with your roommate. Moving your body should be something you look forward to doing.
- Move with your head held high. If you act like someone with positive body image and high self-confidence, the act will eventually become reality.
- Rest. Sleep helps our body in a myriad of ways, like balancing your mood, appetite and energy levels (to name a few). If you struggle to sleep, check out some tips and info to help you sleep better.
Focus on how you feel instead of how much you weigh. How much a person weighs depends on all kinds of factors, many of which are outside our locus of control such as genetics and the environment around us. Instead of focusing on whatever that scale says, focus on how amazing it makes your body feel when you eat nourishing food and move your body.
- Surround yourself with people who are supportive of you and your body. These folks love you no matter what you look like or how much you weigh.
Doing the above in 2018 just might make you feel better about yourself and feel better overall.
Revolutionize your resolution! LOVE YOURSELF.
When discussing health, you’ll notice a trend between two approaches – weight normative and weight inclusive.
The weight-normative approach includes the many principles and practices that emphasize achieving a “normal” weight when defining health and well-being. This approach rests on the assumption that weight and disease are related in a linear fashion, with disease and weight increasing in tandem. Under the weight-normative approach, personal responsibility to make “healthy lifestyle choices” and maintain “healthy weights” are emphasized. The approach prioritizes weight as a main determinant of health and as such, weight management (calories in/calories out) as a central component of health improvement and health care recommendations.
Instead of imagining that well-being is only possible at a specific weight, a weight-inclusive approach includes research-informed practices that enhance people’s health regardless of where they fall on the weight spectrum. Under this paradigm, weight is not a focal point of treatment or intervention. Instead the weight-inclusive approach focuses on health behaviors that can be made more accessible to all people. These are behaviors such as exercising for pleasure, eating when hungry and stopping when full.
So is one better than the other? We’ll look at three questions to figure that out:
A healthy relationship… with food?
You’ve probably heard of a “healthy relationship” with family, with friends, or with a partner, but we talk less often about our relationships with food in terms of their health — beyond simply what we consume and when. A relationship with food is psychological, financial, social, and cultural as well as physical. Like any other healthy relationship, a healthy relationship with food is free of fear or the feeling of being controlled or out of control.
What impacts our relationship with food?
Our relationships with food are impacted by our life experiences and the systems around us. For example, the fad diet industry often uses body-shaming tactics and capitalizes on our desire to be “good” or “healthy” people in its mission to sell more products. These techniques often also promote the idea that some foods are inherently “good” and others are inherently “bad.” You’ve probably heard a friend say, “I’ve been so bad today — I ate (fill in the blank).”
However, there are no “good” or “bad” foods — and furthermore, what we consume can’t make us “good” or “bad” people! Just like eating kale all the time doesn’t make you somehow better or more moral, a bag of chips doesn’t suddenly make you a “bad” or “unhealthy” person. A healthy relationship with food involves knowing that your morality or value as a person is not determined by what you consume.
Our relationships with food can also be shaped by a desire to attain an (often unrealistic) “ideal” as portrayed on TV, in movies, or through other media. This ideal of “health” or “fitness” often depends on visible body shape/size, and provides a very narrow window of “healthy” shapes/sizes. However, research tells us that we cannot tell how healthy a person is — or how healthy his/her/their relationship with food is — by the size or shape of her/his/their body.
Overall, our bodies need different things at different times. Only you can determine what’s best for you based on your body, access to resources, and belief systems. One rule or set of guidelines does not apply to everyone in regards to diet, and people have many different ways of getting the nutrients we need.
What can I do to have a healthier relationship with food?
- Remind yourself that your value does not depend on what you eat, and that there are many more ways to be healthy than are shown in the media.
- Listen to your body. To the extent that you are able, try to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Don’t wait for your hunger or your fullness to “yell” at you – keep in touch with what your body needs to the best of your abilities based on your access to resources. This can take practice!
- Don’t be so hard on yourself! Being rigid and restrictive about what foods you “allow” yourself to eat can be harmful to your body and your mind. Focusing excessively on what foods you have eaten, or counting calories obsessively, are often a sign of an unhealthy relationship with food.
- Pick the foods that give you the energy to do what you do during the day. After all, that’s what calories are — energy! The more nutrients that come along with that energy, the better.
Find more information:
If you feel concerned for yourself or a friend, or want to talk more about your relationship with food, you can find more information and contact options here.
This article was originally published September 4, 2014, by Mary Koenig, a program assistant for Student Wellness. She was in the school of Social Work and Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill.
This blog post was originally published on March 5, 2015.
If I asked 10 different people what physical health looks like, do you think I would get the same answer? My guess is I would actually get 10 different answers largely because there is no one right answer.
The purpose of this blog is not to try and change your mind about what it looks like to be physically healthy, but rather to suggest that using body image and weight as an indicator of health is misguided. Being healthy is not about how you look, but rather what you do. What you do in your everyday life often plays a very large role in determining your what the real important health indicators like blood sugar levels, triglycerides (fat content in blood), LDL cholesterol, and many others will be.
I think it is time that we start to shift our attention from what people look like to what they do when we think about health. There are so many factors that contribute to health and there are also many things out of our control, but what is in our control, at least somewhat, is whether you try and live a healthy lifestyle.
So what does this mean? This means that you cannot always tell if someone is healthy or not by just looking at them. But—and I say this with a big but– the majority of research shows that being extremely overweight or extremely underweight can be very harmful for your health. We also should maybe rethink how we look at individuals whose weight falls somewhere in between these two extremes and even reconsider what we would be considered overweight. I say this because last year, a large study showed that people that are overweight actually live longer than people who are “normal” weights. I also say this because in the middle of these two extremes is a very large group of people that could, or could not be very healthy but we really cannot tell just by looking at them. What it comes down to is that the deciding factor is what people do in their everyday lives (and genetics), not what they look like. I think if we started to be more concerned with things like how physically active people are, how much sleep they get, and the food they eat (in addition to many other things) instead of what they look like, we as a society could do a better job at not stigmatizing people for being either over or underweight.
I would like to emphasize that I am not saying to be whatever size you want because as I said earlier, there is very good evidence to show that this can be very harmful to health. What I am saying is let’s worry more about eating real food, food that has not been overly processed, and exercising in moderation among many other daily activities, and let’s worry less about what size we should be. This means that being “skinny” even if you can eat whatever you want without exercising, does not make you healthy. But it also means for people that get the recommended amount of exercise and eat real food in reasonable amounts, but still weigh more than society says you should, that’s ok.
I think the bottom line is we need to be real with ourselves, and stop using what we look like to determine our health. What we look like in a mirror is meaningless if we are not doing what we should be doing to promote physical health, and vice versa. Let’s start trying to live our lives in a healthier way and use that to measure our health instead of the numbers we see on a scale.
Protein shakes, whey protein powder… But when do you use these? Before or after exercising? How do you fuel up for a workout and how do you help your muscles recover?
Ms. Mary Ellen Bingham, MS, RD, CSSD, head sports nutritionist at UNC, recommends “book-ending”. This means you eat something small both before and after your workout. To fuel up and in order to have enough energy to get through your time at the gym, eat within about an hour prior to exercising. Then, eat again within 30 minutes – don’t wait until lunch or dinner time to eat. These don’t have to be complete meals, but more so, snacks.
Check out the image below on nutrient timing that Ms. Bingham created. (Click for larger image).
For pre-workout, carbs will give you the energy to push yourself and not get exhausted. Try crackers or toast with peanut butter, fruit, a small granola bar or a handful of pretzels. Post-workout, you want to refuel your muscles. First and foremost, make sure to drink water! All that sweat is going to leave you dehydrated, so you need to be drinking before, during and after your workout. Additionally, have a combination of both carbs and protein such as trail mix, a sports bar, a smoothie or – the classic drink that promotes fast muscle recovery – low-fat chocolate milk.
Previously, I interviewed Dr. Abbie Smith, an assistant EXSS professor. If you read this interview (I don’t want to repeat it all!), you’ll find other similar advice. Dr. Smith gave me nutritional advice for those trying to gain muscle, those trying to lose fat, what “cheat days” are all about and supplement information. That blog post is extremely informative and can clear up some further questions you may have about nutrition for athletes.
So, if they’re right for you, continue with your protein shakes, nutrition bars or whatever your usual pre/post workout snack may be! Remember – carbs before and a combination of carbs and protein after.
Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation. Each Wednesday we swap blog posts with the Tar Heel Tone Up blog so that readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Workout Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on tarheeltoneup.com.
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation understood it (possibly just for its deliciousness)! But how many of us actually eat it on a daily basis? And unfortunately, that cup of coffee doesn’t really count as breakfast.
Many students skip this meal due to lack of time or because it has become a habit to rush to class on an empty stomach.
“I know it’s probably not a good idea, but I’ve gotten used to it,” explains a second-year UNC student. “I usually study late and I would rather sleep an extra 20 minutes than wake up to make breakfast.”
While college students may lack time, it is still very important to eat in the morning. What kind of impact does this have if you decide to skip breakfast?
- Your grades will take a hit! Your brain needs food to function, specifically glucose. Things like toast, cereal, and fruit are good sources of this. A number of studies found a link between academic performance and breakfast. Those that ate breakfast scored noticeably higher on tests than those that did not eat breakfast. Other studies have found that when you’re hungry, you tend to be more forgetful. If you want those A’s, you should start with breakfast.
- You’ll be cranky. When your body is running on empty, your blood sugar drops and your cortisol (the stress hormone) levels spike. Your mood will suffer, and it’ll make it hard to sit through an entire lecture. Being hangry is a real thing!
- Your metabolism slows down. Breakfast helps to rev up your metabolism. Without food in your system, especially at the beginning of your day, your body goes into protection mode and works to conserve calories, rather than burning it. In prolonged cases, it causes wasting of your muscles.
- You’ll be more at risk for certain diseases. A number of studies found links between missing breakfast and increased risk of weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes. Yes, skipping breakfast can cause weight gain.
An ideal breakfast is balanced. The Clinical Nutrition Specialist at Campus Health, Antonia Hartley, often recommends using the MyPlate for just that reason.
“I tell my clients to choose a starch (like toast, a tortilla, or granola), choose a protein (like peanut butter, eggs, or yogurt), and choose a fruit or veggie (like a banana, spinach or berries),” Hartley advises. “Putting together any three of these takes two minutes tops, especially since you can scramble an egg in the microwave.”
If you’re short on time in the morning, there many other quick breakfast recipes. There’s really no excuse to skip breakfast in the morning.
Justin Chu is the Information and Communication Program Assistant at UNC Student Wellness and a Master of Public Health graduate student with a focus in Health Behavior at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He previously worked as a nutritionist in the clinical, community, and commercial settings after earning his bachelor’s in Clinical Nutrition at the University of California at Davis.
I don’t speak for all women. These are just some comments I have heard and–regrettably–said in my life. Comments delivered with the best intentions that nevertheless sting, because they move me away from a confident, body-positive headspace. Comments I now try to avoid.
1. Don’t worry–a lot of guys really like curvy women.
Heteronormativity aside, this statement reinforces the notion that a woman’s worth lies solely in her ability to sexually attract a man by comforting her with the idea that men still find her body sexy. It’s like saying “all that matters is your ability to get a man to sleep with you, and being fat hasn’t totally compromised that ability.” Ouch. Try “you’re an amazing/strong/intelligent/ creative/etc woman!”
2. Wow; I can’t believe you weigh that much. But the weight looks really good on YOU.
Weight varies. And the same weight can look very different on different people–I get it. But brushing aside our ridiculous standards of beauty and acting like I am a “special case” either comes across as condescending–”don’t worry; you don’t LOOK fat”–or as an indirect, self-inflicted wound–”Your weight would never look as good on me.”
Let’s assume for a moment the revolutionary idea that no weight is inherently good or bad and that no body is inherently flawed. Wow. That frees up a lot of room in the conversation for celebrating the attributes of a person that really matter, doesn’t it?
3. Oh my gosh–you’ve lost soo much weight… how did you DO it?”
This goes hand-in-hand with “how do you stay so thin?” A lot of things can cause people to lose weight or maintain a thin frame. Genetics. Diet and exercise. Fasting. Eating disorders. Grief. Depression. Anxiety, and a host of other mental health issues. Not to mention cancer, lupus, AIDS, certain medications, mono, the flu…
Don’t assume that a person’s weight loss or thinness is intentional, and don’t assume they want to talk about it.
If you know a friend/co-worker/family member has embarked on a new diet and exercise regimen and they are losing weight, let them take the lead in talking about it. Reflect their feelings (increased energy, confidence, sense of pride) rather than focusing on weight loss.
And if you just happen to notice someone’s sudden weight loss or petite frame and you are genuinely concerned? Try telling them you are concerned without mentioning weight (“I noticed you haven’t been yourself lately” or “You seem a little stressed/overwhelmed; is everything ok?”). Then give them space to talk.
In the end, it’s not their weight that matters, and focusing on a person’s body or weight loss can detract from appreciating their holistic value as a person.
4. Did you see so-and-so-from-high-school’s new profile pic? She got FAT.
AKA “I can’t believe how much weight she’s gained.” This is fat shaming. Pure and simple. And no good can come if it. Besides, you have no idea what may be happening in that friend’s life beyond her FB pages. Leave her alone. You got your own life to worry about, right?
5. Those jeans make you look so skinny!
As opposed to all my other clothes? This is a pseudo-compliment. It insinuates that I am not actually skinny and thus need a pair of jeans to make me look skinny, and that by pointing out my miraculously skinny look, you are somehow doing me a favor.
Imagine a world where “looking skinny” is no better or worse than looking any other way, and what mattered was how we felt. Well, we can move closer to that world NOW by trading the skinny complement for something more meaningful, like “I can tell you feel confident when you wear that outfit” or “You look really happy today.”
6. I wish I had your arms/stomach/thighs/whatever.
Really? I wish I had 20/20 vision. The power to teleport. The ability to do crazy hard math problems in my head. C’mon, you can wish better than that!
7. I hate it when fat girls wear _____ .
Fat shaming hurts all of us. So, just don’t.
8. She is so anorexic.
Is she really? Because anorexia is a complex, life threatening, mental illness (that’s right, ya’ll, I said “mental” because it’s not just about weight…). Using “anorexic” as a derogatory adjective to describe a thin person is not only offensive to that person, it perpetuates the stigma and stereotypes around eating disorders. Maybe she is anorexic. Maybe not.
If she is a close friend and you are honestly concerned about her mental health, don’t gossip about her behind her back. Read about ways to be supportive and helpful or check out Embody Carolina’s training. And if she’s not a friend or someone you are honestly concerned about? Leave her alone. Get back to living your life!
Look, we all have those days. Even the feminists and the fat acceptance folks and the media image warriors. The days when it gets to us. The fat days. And it’s ok to have that day and let yourself wallow. Lean on your friends. Although thinness is definitely valued in our culture more than fatness, even thin people have body shame, and skinny shaming sucks too. In the end, fat shame and skinny shame are really just two sides of a multi-sided problem. Many women–large and small–bond over a shared body hate, and body shame hurts us all. So instead of feeding it, let’s work to STOP it!
10. You have such a pretty face.
This is almost the flipside of the “butter face” insult. Pretty face, huh? I also have a super sexy brain, a smoking hot personality, and drop-dead gorgeous talent. A woman is more than a body and a pretty face, and there are countless complements you could give a woman that lets her know you value more than the physical features of her face. Try: “you have a great sense of style.” “You are so well-organized.” “I really admire your cool-headedness.” “You have such a way with words”….
What is your favorite non-body complement to give or hear?
Tell us in the comments!