Posts belonging to Category Nutrition

It’s Finals. Time to get serious about your health.

It has come to the end of the semester again. Group meetings for projects, reviews for exams, as well as endless papers are all starting to take up more and more of your time. Sometimes you may feel like you have to sacrifice your sleep, your exercise, you regular meal time, and thus, your health to make a final boost of your GPA.  But, sacrificing these things can actually be a detriment to your academics.

The following tips for finals month will not only help you find a balance between working hard and being healthy, but remind you that often times, they go hand in hand as well.

  • Relax and Release Stress.  One thing you feel at the end of every semester may be stress. Both physical and psychological stress can cause chronic inflammation in your body, with an immediate effect of dampening your brain and body function, as well as a long term effect of increasing your risk for chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Your overall performance and wellness could be determined by how well you manage your stress. Getting adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet, and participating in regular physical activity are all effective ways of reducing stress, and have all been shown to reduce inflammation.
  • Keep a Regular Schedule. An irregular schedule can create metabolic stress in your body and affect your health and academic performance. Thus, staying on a schedule that is similar to your typical day is best. When you change things up- like staying awake later or eating late-night- your body is stressed by this and has to adjust, which requires you to use energy that isn’t directed toward your studies. Regardless of whether you are a “morning person” or a “night person”, if  you eat, sleep, workout etc at similar times day to day, you are minimizing the stress you put on your body.
  • Stop Skipping Meals. Regular meal time is also a part of your schedule, and an important one.  We all know that it’s bad to skip breakfast, and it’s actually bad to skip lunch and dinner too. Skipping meals can slow down your metabolism and cause your body to store the food you eat as fat since your body won’t know when it will get fed again. Therefore, try to have an apple, banana, cup of yogurt, or granola bar on hand so that you have something healthy to snack on if you get hungry and you’re in the middle of doing work.
  • Stay Hydrated. During periods of intensive brain activity, water serves as the primary media and reactant in the massive metabolic reactions going on in your body and brain. To maintain health and a high level of functionality, you need to watch out for dehydration. Oftentimes, thirst is a sign that you’re past the point of dehydration. Headaches and fatigue may come first. Water is the healthiest and most hydrating choice to replenish lost fluid stores. Sugary drink like soda and sports drinks do not provide as much water and can actually be dehydrating. Other healthy options include iced or hot tea.


Nielsen, Forrest. March 15, 2010.Inflammation- Bad or Good. United States Department of Agriculture. Available online at

Shacter, E. and Weitzman, SA. 2002. Chronic Inflammation and cancer. Oncology. 16(2):217-229.

By: Xuan Qin

Editor: Kate Sweeney


Continue Loving Fruits and Veggies: 10 Simple Tips

It’s almost April!  While this means that National Nutrition Month (March) is winding down, it doesn’t mean that you should stop focusing on ways to eat better.  At Tufts, the “I heart Veggies” campaign took place, putting focus on adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.  Most of you know that fruits and vegetables are good for you.  And many of you know that you don’t eat enough of them.  But how do you get enough?  And what is enough?

If you feel overwhelmed by trying to eat the recommended 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, don’t fret – you’re not alone. Here is a simple explanation of what a serving of fruits and vegetables is, as well as 10 simple ways to add fruits and vegetables to your diet without extra time, effort, or cost.  Whether you’re eating in the dining hall, cooking your own meal, or going out to eat, you can still get what you need by incorporating some of these tips into your daily routine.

5 or more servings

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day for overall health.  The simplest technique for determining serving size is by remembering that one serving of fruits and vegetables is approximately the size of your fist.  Half a banana, a small apple, a handful of grapes or carrots, a tennis-ball-sized spoonful of peas or corn – these are all about a serving.  Don’t stress about exact size – just remember the fist rule and approximate.

1.    Throw some fruit on your cereal

Banana slices, strawberries and blueberries all make for an easy and delicious addition to your morning bowl of cereal or oatmeal.  Bananas are generally the least expensive, but supermarkets often have 2-for-1 sales on berries that make them an affordable option

2.    Try fruit with yogurt for a quick breakfast or snack

Anything you can add to cereal is also delicious with yogurt.  Fresh fruit sweetens up plain yogurt, but without added sugar.  Adding frozen fruit (go for the ones without added sugar) makes for a cool treat, and it lasts in your freezer for a long time.  Chopped melon, which is often available in the dining hall, is also great with yogurt.

3.    Add veggies to your eggs

Spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, broccoli, and artichoke hearts all add great flavor to scrambled eggs or an omelet.

4.    Grab a piece of fruit as you run out the door

Fruit makes a great snack in class, on the subway, or at work.  It’s easy to throw in your pack and it fills you up.

 5.    Add veggies and fruits to your sandwich

Love your daily sandwich? Add some cucumber slices for a crunch, tomato slices for taste, sprouts for texture, and lettuce or spinach for some color.  Pepperoncinis and hot peppers add a delicious kick if you’re in an adventurous mood.  Fruit is also great in sandwiches – try apple slices with cheese and honey mustard or pear slices with turkey and pesto.

6.    Pack veggies as a snack

Carrots and snap peas are two great options to satisfy a hunger urge in the middle of the day.  Cucumber and zucchini slices and cherry tomatoes are also good.  Pack a little fat-free ranch dressing or hummus for dipping if that makes raw veggies more appealing.

7.    Add vegetables to pasta

If you use red sauce, you’re off to a good start. You can boost your veggie count and the flavor by adding fresh tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, peppers, artichoke hearts, eggplant, or anything else you can think of.  If you’re in the dining hall, microwave veggies from the salad bar for a minute and stir them in with pasta. Edamame adds some color as well, and is a great source of protein.  If you’re a mac and cheese lover, try adding green peas or a can of diced tomatoes with chilies.  You can’t go wrong!

8.    Top pizza with vegetables or fruit

Anything you add to pasta, you can also put on top of pizza.  Even if you’re just pulling a store-bought pizza out of the freezer, you can spruce it up by adding any type of vegetable. In addition to veggies, you can also add pineapple if you’re having ham on pizza, or try pear slices with goat cheese.  Sweet potato is also surprisingly good on pizza.  Be creative!

9.    Try a stir-fry for dinner

The best thing about stir-fry is that it tastes delicious no matter what’s in it.  Carrots, bok choy, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini or squash slices, snap peas, and baby corn are common options to throw in the frying pan with a little stir-fry sauce and serve over rice. Or try some different veggies like kale, sweet potato, turnip, beets, or edamame.

10. Have fruit for dessert

Before you stop reading, hear me out – fruit doesn’t have to spoil the fun of dessert!  Add fresh or frozen berries to mousse or ice cream.  Sear bananas in a splash of canola oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and add a dollop of whipped cream.  Try poached or baked apples or pears with some cinnamon sugar and lemon.  A wedge of ripe melon, half a grapefruit, or apple slices drizzled with honey are all great lighter options for a sweet after-dinner treat that add to your 5-a-day and don’t leave you feeling stuffed.

Hopefully now you’re feeling empowered to eat your fruits and veggies!  The key is to think about adding color anywhere you can.  Challenge yourself to see how many different colors or different fruits and vegetables you can eat in one meal.  And remember to start with small changes that fit your college lifestyle, habits, and personal preferences. There are hundreds of fruits and vegetables out there – be creative, be brave, try some new things, and figure out what you like.

By: Ashley Carter

Editor: Kate Sweeney


I <3 Veggies!

You are what you eat. So, eating healthful foods will definitely lead to you feeling better mentally, physically, and emotionally. This month, March, is National Nutrition Month..and BYL is teaming up with Dining Services for “I heart veggies”.

When it comes to eating vegetables (and fruits) at Tufts, it can be difficult. Prices of these items can be high, some may not taste great to you, they may not be easy to find outside of the dining halls, you may not know how to prepare them, and more. Thinking about eating more and finding ways to do so, however, will increase your intake. By eating more veggies and fruits, you’ll eat less of other foods that may not be as healthful and have a better overall diet.

Here are some ways to get more fruits and veggies in your diet:

  • Try adding a variety of fruits and vegetables as pizza toppings (broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, and pineapples, just to name a few).
  • Come to a BYL cooking class and learn how to prepare fruits and veggies.
  • Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite low-fat salad dressing for dipping.
  • Instead of having two cups of ice-cream, have one cup of frozen fruits mixed with one cup of ice-cream to make it just as satisfying and a lot healthier.
  • Add veggies to pasta and rice dishes.

Other things to keep in mind during National Nutrition Month are:

More whole grains!

  • Try replacing your white rice with brown rice or even black, purple, red rice.
  • Try whole wheat bread instead of white bread.
  • Choose cereals with a whole wheat stamp on it, and a lot of them are tasty.

Switch to fat-free or low-fat dairy products

  • Fat-free milk and yogurt is more desirable than whole milk versions.
  • Low-fat version of frozen desserts could be as enjoyable as ice cream.

Be physically active your own way

By: Xuan Qin

Editor: Kate Sweeney

The Truth about Salt

February is American’s National Heart Month, which attracts nation-wide attention to heart health once again. CDC just published its 61 volume of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on February 10th, in which they investigated on American’s consumption of salt. As you may know, excessive consumption of salt raises blood pressure especially in sodium sensitive population: a threat for a healthy heart.

CDC’s report analyzed data from the 2007–2008 What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), in which approximately 7100 people within various ethnic groups had participated.

Following are the key findings and recommendations from the CDC report.

1. Many Americans eat too much salt.
Recommended daily sodium consumption is <2,300 mg, and is 1,500 mg for
groups that are more sodium sensitive. However, American’s average dietary
sodium intake is 3,266 mg/day, and about 90% of us consume way more sodium than recommended.

2. 44% of the sodium consumed is coming from 10 main categories of foods, and surprisingly, bread is at the top of the list.

The 10 main categories are: bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, pizza, poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta mixed dishes, meat mixed dishes, and savory snacks.

3. More than 85% of dietary sodium from foods and drinks comes from stores or restaurants rather than home cooked foods.

4. Reducing the sodium content of the 10 leading sources by one fourth would reduce total dietary sodium by more than 10%.

How come breads and rolls contribute the most toward our sodium intake? While the amount of salt in commercial bread is not extremely high (about 150mg per serving), we eat so much of them on a daily basis and small quantities added up.

To cut back on your sodium intake, you can:

  • Choose unprocessed foods.
  • Prepare more meals and snacks at home.
  • Limit your intake of bread, deli meats, and canned soups.
  • Choose other starches like rice, pasta, or potatoes over bread.
  • Eat fruits and veggies for snacks.

By: Xuan Qin

Editor: Kate Sweeney


Centers for Disease Control. Vital Signs: Foot Categories Contributing the Most to Sodium Consumption- United States 2007-2008. MMWR. February 10, 2012. 61(05);92-98.

Ask the Expert: “Good” & “Bad” Foods?

Question: Coming from a different culture, I often find America’s obsession with diets to somewhat jarring, especially the tendency to banish foods into “good” or “bad” categories. I personally firmly believe that there are no “good” or “bad” foods, only good or bad diets, because anything can be healthy (either physically or psychologically) in moderation. In fact, I find that obsessing over what one eats to does more psychological harm than good. What’s the expert’s view on this?

Answer: This is a great question. Rather than focusing on “good” and “bad” foods it is better to focus on an overall healthy eating and physical activity plan that fits in your lifestyle. Of course, there are foods that are better for you (like fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and foods that are not as good (like chips, cookies and candy) but all of them can be included in a healthy diet. You just want to make sure to base your diet around the healthier items and keep the portion sizes of your treats under control. A good rule to follow is the 80-20 rule; try and make 80% of your foods healthy and the other 20% can be slightly more indulgent.

Because you mentioned America’s unhealthy fixation with dieting, I think it is
important to note here that National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week
is coming up from February 26 – March 3, 2012. The link to NEDA can be found
here.  Sadly eating disorders, disordered eating and body image dissatisfaction exist in America. NEDA works to help raise awareness surrounding these issues and support individuals and families affected by eating disorders.

By: Lisa D’Agrosa