Calories, carbs and calcium – oh my!

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For students attending college, it can be a hard task to keep track of healthy food choices. In order for students to maximize their healthy habits, they must think critically about what they consume. (Photo Illustration by Cristy Law | The Collegian)

Many people believe one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself is to take care of your body and maintain healthy habits. While being healthy feels good, there’s a lot of work that goes into watching your health.

Have you ever heard the myth about being able to eat whatever you want as long as you exercise? Unfortunately, it’s exactly that: a myth. Trying to out exercise with a bad diet usually lands people in a giant pile of “you tried.”

To maximize your health, you must to eat well, exercise the recommended amount for your unique self and even inform yourself on how to be psychologically healthy.

Exercise

Exercise is determined on two factors: time and type. It depends on the duration of the workout and what kind of results the person is looking for.

If a person is looking to lose more fat mass, they should turn to aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises include activities such as running, endurance training and swimming.

Taylor Sweet, freshman in kinesiology, said aerobic exercise uses a specific type of energy pathway that uses fatty acids, which ends up breaking down more fat.

If the person is looking to gain more muscle mass, they should turn to anaerobic exercises. Anaerobic exercises include actives such as high intensity interval training, circuits, squats and deadlifts. Sweet said these exercises use more creatine phosphate, which helps burn fat and build muscle.

“Exercise contributes to positive health, helps deal with modern chronic diseases (heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity) and is used an a rehabilitation technique (osteoporosis),” Sweet said.

Even low intensity exercise increases the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells) in the body and helps the immune system, according to Sweet.

Exercising increases dopamine levels and certain hormones that make you feel better. Jessica Williamson, instructor for psychological sciences, said dopamine also serves to reduce anxiety, stress and depression.

Eat right

Along with exercising, staying healthy requires watching how you fuel your body. Our bodies feel better when we fuel it with the right types of foods.

“It’s important to read the nutrition labels on foods and plan ahead,” Amanda Wilder, graduate student in food science and research assistant, said.

It is helpful to plan out how you want to eat and how you can accomplish eating that way. Nutrition labels are key to finding out information such as the amount of calories, sugar, sodium, vitamins and other things.

When reading nutrition labels, you are providing yourself with knowledge of the food industry. If you’re looking to cut out sugars or have a certain allergy, reading the nutrition label can extremely beneficial, Wilder said.

If you don’t have experience reading nutrition labels, you can always ask your doctor, a nutritionist or even find the information on the internet. This can help you learn a lot about what can be considered “good” and “bad” for your diet.

When watching how you eat, eating consistently and in moderation is essential to maintaining a healthy diet. Wilder said skipping meals and binge eating is not healthy.

“Fad diets are not something to turn to because you end up losing a lot nutrients and eventually you gain all of the weight back,” Wilder said. “Balanced diets, knowing what foods are good to eat and your health history are key to a healthy diet.”

One type of food you should pay attention to are super foods. Super foods are nutrient dense. You are able to get a great amount of nutrients with a small amount of these foods. If you understand nutrients, you can find out what kinds of super foods would benefit you. For example, you would have to drink more milk to get the same nutrients that you could get from a smaller amount of spinach, making the spinach a super food.

Vegan and vegetarian diets have the possibility of being risky but this can also be avoided. Animals provide us with amino acids that we don’t make and they’re beneficial to our health. Along with fad diets, vegan and vegetarians diets lack some nutrients. There are supplements that you can take but they are regulated by the FDA and may be harder to get, Wilder said.

Live well

The run down on health normally strikes people as an exercise and eating habits formula, but there’s more to it. Every single one us runs into stressors during our every day lives. Stressors are the things that cause us stress and too much stress can take a really bad toll on your health. This relates to health on a psychology point of view.

Especially as college students, we experience all sorts of stress from our personal lives, work and school activities.

Williamson said there are five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. How stress affects you depends on what kind levels of each personality you hold.

There are two ways to cope with stress: problem-focused coping and emotional-focused coping.

Problem-focused coping is a way to cope by focusing on the problem and deciding how to deal with it, whereas emotional-focused coping avoids the problem. If there’s absolutely nothing you can do about a situation emotion-focused coping is best but if it’s a general thing causing stress then a problem-focused coping approach would be best.

Williamson said problem-focused coping increases your ability to deal better with stressors even stressors such as traumatic events.

“College is stressful and adjusting to take the approach of looking at it as a learning experience can help you deal with the stress,” Williamson said.”College is an opportunity for growth.”

Health is a two-way street because you will get what exactly what you put in. Watch those calories, portion sizes, learn how to properly deal with stress and get your daily exercise in.

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