What is HAES?

By Matthew Nguyen, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Social media, as much fun as it is, continues to create ‘social norms’ that are damaging.  A big one of these being what a healthy person should look like. Society has established that being skinny or muscular is healthy, while being large or overweight is considered unhealthy. This creates a bias towards weight which can lead to food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health, etc. But, did you know that your body shape or weight does not necessarily determine your health. This is what the Health at Every Size movement or HAES strives to change. This movement helps recognize that health outcomes are mainly driven by social, economic, and environmental factors, which require a social and political response.  This change in mindset might not be easy, but here are some tips you can try to incorporate into your everyday life.

1. Trust yourself. We all have internal systems designed to keep us healthy — and at a healthy weight. Support your body in naturally finding its appropriate weight by honoring its signals of hunger, fullness, and appetite.

2. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and seek out pleasur­able and satisfying foods.

3. Tailor your tastes so that you enjoy more nutritious foods, staying mindful that there is plenty of room for less nutritious choices in the context of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle

4. Embrace size diversity. Humans come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Open to the beauty found across the spectrum and support others in recognizing their unique attractiveness.

5. Find the joy in moving your body and becoming more physically vital in your everyday life.

6. Accept your size. Love and appreciate the body you have. Self-acceptance empowers you to move on and make positive changes.

I hope people who read this understand that we are all beautiful and we should not let society dictate how you should look and feel. 😊

Fall Snacking

Happy November Aggies!

As the weather in Davis is beginning to cool down and all the leaves on the trees are changing into beautiful colors, it finally feels like fall! And with fall arrived, the holiday season is just around the corner: cozy clothes, warm drinks, and of course, indulging in delicious holiday meals. While it is super important to maintain a balanced diet, it doesn’t mean you have to skip out on celebratory meals. 

Here are a few healthy fall snacks to try this Fall that will help you feel nourished.

  1. Fall Fruit Salad

Put together a salad with in-season fruits. Cut up apples, pears, and grapes, then toss in some pomegranate seeds. If you want to add more flavor, toss this salad with some honey or lemon juice.

  • Air fryer apple chips

They’re like kale chips, but with apples! Instead of reaching for a bag of potato chips, try this alternative. Thinly slice apples and air fry until crispy. These can be eaten as is or seasoned. For savory apple chips, sprinkle on sea salt, and for sweet chips, toss in cinnamon and sugar. You can also try this with pears!

  • Granola energy bites with pumpkin

These quick granola bites are perfectly tailored for fall. Start off by mixing together your dry ingredients: dry rolled oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice seasoning (optional), and anything else you would like (chocolate chips, chopped nuts, etc.) Then, combine peanut butter, honey or maple syrup, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Mix everything together and roll out small granola bites. Let chill in the fridge before snacking! 

  • Roasted pumpkin seeds

After scooping out the inside of your pumpkin, make sure to save the seeds for a crunchy, savory snack. After washing, removing the pulp, and drying off the seeds, toss in a little olive oil and your favorite seasonings. Roast in the oven until crunchy and enjoy!

  • Butternut squash fries

A new take on sweet potato fries: butternut squash fries! Cut up a butternut squash into thin fry-shaped sticks, toss with some olive oil, and either bake in the oven or air fry until crispy. Sprinkle on some sea salt and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. 

Let us know if you have a favorite!

Should you juice or blend? 

By Elisha Aispuro, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Living in California will have you hearing the most absurd arguments as many of you know. One of those repeated arguments always discusses the age old question, is it better to juice or blend?

While it may be tempting to watch the Goop Lab starring Gwenyth Paltro on Netflix to answer the question, I’ll save you the trouble and answer the question in this post!

Juicing vs. Blending

Using a juicer entails separating juice from fiber leading to delicious creations such as carrot juice without any pulp or fiber. I know what you’re thinking…. why would you want to exclude the fiber when it’s good for you? Removing the fiber allows you to pack more vegetables/fruits in a juice thus increasing your servings of vegetables/fruits in an easy and hydrating way. Additionally, juices carry several benefits including being an instant infusion of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to your bloodstream. Choosing a juice over a smoothie also gives your digestive system somewhat of a break allowing cells to focus on resting and repairing when needed.

On the other hand, blending entails blending all ingredients together into a filling smoothie. Smoothies carry many benefits such as supporting digestive health by aiding in regular digestion and elimination of toxins. Smoothies also help satisfy hunger, sustain energy levels over time, and balance blood sugar. Choosing to blend over juicing will lead to having a delicious fiber-filled drink that will not be digested as quickly.

Do both!

You may be thinking that you don’t want to choose just one or the other. Well I’m here to reassure you that you don’t have to. Both juicing and blending carry their own awesome benefits. Listed below are two similar recipes using both techniques so feel free to try both and decide for yourself what you like best!

Green Juice Recipe

The base ingredients include 2 cups of spinach and 2 peeled oranges with potential add-ins such as ginger root or broccoli stems for a quick energy boosting juice.

Green Smoothie Recipe

The base ingredients include 2 cups of spinach, 1 peeled orange, 1 cup of water or milk, 1 tablespoon of nut butter with potential add-ins such as protein powder or hemp seeds for a filling smoothie.

Do you have any life-changingly delicious smoothie or juice recipes you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments!

The Importance of Electrolytes

By Angela Feng, Healthy Aggies Intern

Electrolytes are minerals present in your body…and there’s a whole lot of them! This includes: Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphate, and Bicarbonate. Electrolytes are essential in maintaining vital body functions. They are responsible for conducting nervous impulses, contracting muscles, and keeping you hydrated. Did you know electrolytes and water can be lost when you sweat? Long periods of intense exercise may cause significant electrolyte loss.

So… you might be wondering where to get more of these? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Here are some electrolyte rich food and beverages that you can incorporate in your meals:

  • Coconut Water is naturally low in sugar and contains electrolytes like potassium, sodium, phosphorus, and magnesium!
  • Whole Milk also has the same electrolytes as coconut water, with an additional supply of calcium, carbohydrates and protein.
  • 100% Fruit Juice is a great refreshing electrolyte-rich drink. Make sure to look for fruit juice with no added sugars! Watermelon juice contains “L-citrulline,” which is known to enhance oxygen transport and athletic performance!
  • Leafy Green Vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli contain a variety of electrolytes. These can be added into salads or smoothies.
  • Nut and Seeds like cashews, almonds, and sunflowers are rich in magnesium and phosphorus. Nut and seed butters are both great too!
  • Legumes are loaded with electrolytes and also provide protein. These include a variety of beans such as: kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans. Other common legumes include: chickpeas, peanuts, and lentils.

Tell me about your favorite electrolyte rich foods in the comments below!

4 Ways to Embrace Gentle Nutrition

By Vivien Zhong, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Have you ever apologized for having a big feast? Or felt guilty while eating a delicious dessert? Do you been stress and worry about healthy eating?

If you answer “yes” to one of the above questions, know that you are not alone and it doesn’t need to be this way! You might want to look into the ideas of gentle nutrition! This post will show you why.

What is Gentle Nutrition?

Gentle nutrition is the 10th principle of “Intuitive Eating” developed by two Registered Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Intuitive eating emphasizes that you are the ONLY expert of your body because only you can feel your body signals, such as hunger and stress. Eating should be an intuitive process: when you’re hungry, you eat; when you’re full, you stop. Yes, that’s it! People who eat in response to hunger and fullness have a more positive self-esteem and are more satisfied with their bodies!

Gentle nutrition states that “Taste is important, but health is still honored, without guilt.” It encourages us to change our eating attitude: eating should be a satisfying experience rather than a guilty or bad one. In essence, there is no labeled “good” or “bad” food. However, many people avoid certain “bad” foods because they think a single bite of those “bad” foods would immediately make them unhealthy. That’s where the guilt stems from – the labels that people put on the foods that negatively influence how they feel when they take a bite.

Why is gentle nutrition important?

Eating with gentle nutrition means to choose foods that both honor your health while also offering a satisfying taste! Research shows that worry and stress about healthy eating could have a larger negative impact on our health than the actual food we consumed. When we give ourselves full permission to eat enjoyable foods, we’re less likely to eat to excess, less likely to engage in binge eating, and experience less guilt when eating. We have to keep the pleasure and joy in eating!

So, how can you practice Gentle Nutrition?

Listen to your body.

Reflect on how eating a particular food makes your body feel. For example, your tongue may be the first part of your body to honor when tasting foods, but it’s certainly not the only one.

Ask yourself:

  • How does the food make your entire body feel? Do you like this feeling? Why or why not?
  • Is there any discomfort in the stomach after the meal?
  • Do you feel hungry or full?
  • Which food makes you feel the most or least nourished? The most or least satisfied?

Addition, not restriction.

The word “gentle” means that nutrition is not restrictive. Restriction leads to deprivation, which often leads to binge and guilt, followed by restriction again. Rather, it’s all about moderation and balance. Each food has its own nutritional values, so try eating various types of foods in moderate amounts: not too little or too much. Consume the amount of foods that your body feels satisfied and comfortable with.

Health, not weight.

Our society values thinness, but healthy, beautiful bodies come in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t have to be “Oh I gained a pound today, I better just have a salad for lunch.” With positive changes in eating and activity, health will improve and body will settle at a weight that is right for you!

Progress, not perfection.

Remember, your health is determined by your long-term dietary pattern, not just a single meal, snack, or drink! It’s okay to eat desserts and treats. Incorporating gentle nutrition into your diet allows you to embody compassion and forgiveness with yourself. Small steps add up and allow you to enjoy the progress along the way.

Happy eating! Take a breath, give yourself permission to eat and enjoy your food. In the comment section below, tell me what you plan to do differently in your next meal 🙂

5 Tips Every Woman Should Know. Period.

By Sammy Seefeldt, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Ever since I was 13, I have spent weeks of my life with cramps, mood swings, migraines, and flat-out – grumpiness. All because of an inevitable natural process… menstruation. I am sure many of you can relate to this. Below are 5 useful tips to not only manage, but triumph, over your dreaded “time of the month.”

There is a historical stigma revolving around the subject of menstruation conspicuous in the culture of the past and of today. Most are uncomfortable discussing this topic openly, yet it is an experience of nearly half of the population!

Because of this stigma, there is a severe lack of resources to help combat the symptoms of this biological process. It is time we talk about the inevitable fate of females dreading their “times of the month” and support women towards action. Who is ready to triumph during this time??

Tip #1: Limit Sugar, Alcohol, and Caffeine

During the menstrual cycle, hormones fluctuate and with that so do our emotions. Our appetite. Our thoughts. Our well-being. One way to promote hormonal balance is to limit sugar, alcohol, and caffeine during your cycle. In addition, limiting these things can help reduce cramping as they have been found to actually trigger cramps during menstruation

Tip #2: Eating Whole Foods Every 3-4 Hours

Mood swings during your cycle can also be due to cortisol spikes. Cortisol is an important hormone that works with your brain in order to regulate things such as mood. To avoid these mood swings, try to eat every 3-4 hours. Eating more frequent smaller meals, focusing on whole foods, could help regulate cortisol levels in your body and thus help avoid mood swings. Try this, and you may find yourself not bouncing like a yo-yo between emotions and energy levels quite so much.

Tip #3: Drink Herbal Tea

If you do experience painful cramping, one tip is to drink herbal tea. Examples would be chamomile, ginger, and dandelion. All of these herbs are shown to help with inflammation and can help reduce pain. So whenever you feel a cramp coming on, brew yourself a nice cup of herbal tea… mmmm.

Tip #4: Increase Iron Intake

Around 1mg of iron is said to be lost every day blood loss occurs. That is a significant amount of iron considering a recommended daily intake of 18 mg of iron daily for women ages 19-50 (compared to 8mg a day for men). With that much iron needed, any loss needs to be accounted for! Eating foods such as dark leafy greens (spinach) and red meats, liver, lentils, and fortified foods is imperative! Pair these foods with vitamin C (oranges, strawberries, etc.)  to help with iron absorption!

Tip #5: Magnesium Rich Foods

To help with fatigue, eat foods rich in magnesium. These foods include spinach, pumpkin seeds, bananas, almonds, and dark chocolate. These delicious foods can be your first step in fighting fatigue associated with the later phase of your cycle.

If you or a friend suffer symptoms, from menstruation, that make living your “normal” day to day life more difficult, then starting with these 5 simple tips is for you. Hopefully, they will help you make your “time of the month,” into a time of the month still full of enjoyment and prospering!

Check out a UC Davis run program, Davis Period, offering more resources on their instragram! How do you cope with your menstrual cycle discomforts?

Secret Food Hacks from a Healthy Aggie Insider

Basic Needs Center, University of California, Davis

By Hannah Squire, UC Davis, Healthy Aggies Coordinator

School has started, and that means for many of us…no more family meals. Is grocery shopping for yourself a whole new world? Are you struggling to budget for your groceries? If you can relate to this (as most college students can!), you’re not alone. In just a short 3 minutes you will have some amazing resources that will keep you nourished and ready to tackle whatever comes your way!

  • CalFresh (SNAP)- This is a federal program that offers electronic benefits to buy most foods in most stores for those who meet the federal income eligibility rules. It is extremely easy to sign up, and will get you well on your way to be able to purchase the foods that are most nourishing to you! To sign up, go here!
  • Fruit and Veggie Up! & The Pantry– Do you like FREE fruits, veggies, and canned goods? Just bring your Student ID to the Memorial Union any day of the week for The Pantry, and every Monday & Thursday 10AM – 12PM at the South patio of the MU for free locally grown produce. It’s a great resource to get the foods you need for a thriving lifestyle! Find out more about The Pantry here, and Fruit and Veggie Up!  here!
  • Healthy Aggies- Now that you know these free and accessible resources available to you, Healthy Aggies is an amazing community to learn about how to use your free groceries. Get some foodie inspiration from our insta @ucdhealthyaggies, or try out some recipes on THIS website, and meet us in person in the West Quad every Wednesday of October between 11am – 1:30pm!

There are so many other resources available if you are in need of food! Here are some…

Now that you have all the tools to get the food you need to live a balanced and nourishing life, comment on your favorite seasonal veggie and how you prepared it. We are looking forward to meeting YOU at the Farmer Market this Wednesday (10/13)!

Are there other resources you know of? Let us know in the comments!

Boost Your Health and Social life!

By Hannah Squire, Health Aggies Coordinator

After more than a year off campus working remote, are you feeling disconnected from campus? Feeling like you want to get back into an in-person routine that promotes a healthy lifestyle? Well it turns out, you’re not alone!

Here are just 5  easy and accessible ways you can boost your health and social life while getting acclimated to campus life this Fall:)

  1. Come chat with the Healthy Aggies Team at our table in the Quad and make a new friend Wednesday’s October 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th on West Quad from 11am – 1:30pm!
  2. Take pictures with the Healthy Aggie props at our table and tag @ucdhealthyaggies when posting on Instagram.
  3. Try some irresistible free snacks like smoothies and veggie chips at the Healthy Aggie table Wednesday at the Farmer Market in the West Quad.
  4. Read the Healthy Aggie blog posts to pick up some cool health and wellness tips & tricks and implement the habit in your life.
  5. Bring a friend to pick up some fun Healthy Aggie swag at our Wednesday Farmer Market tables  at the West Quad to represent all around campus!

Now that you have 5 ways to make the transition to campus more fun, this coming school year, share these tips with a fellow Aggie. The Healthy Aggie Team can’t wait to see you very soon!  Oh, and sign up for our monthly newsletter, here and tell us how you’re boosting your fun in the comments!

Are Probiotics a Scam?

By Meigan Freeman, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Probiotics, prebiotics, and now synbiotics? What are these biotics and what can they do for your health; or are they just another health scam that ultimately burdens your wallet? I’ll go through their purposes, food sources, and possible benefits. But first, let’s review our gut bacteria, an important part of probiotics.

            Your colon hosts millions of bacteria, which scientists refer to as the gut microbiome,  which help you digest food, heighten your immune system, and give you essential nutrients. In fact, they contribute more genes towards human survival than humans themselves do! We have evolved with them and without these important symbiotic bacteria, humans would not be able to survive. We are completely dependent on them. (Consider reading my other post on bacteria and the microbiome for a deeper dive!)

            We have established how important our gut microbiome is to our survival, so shouldn’t we do everything we can to keep them alive, including eating all the probiotic supplements we can? Not quite. The human body has long evolved and survived healthfully without supplements, so I wouldn’t be too eager to start taking them now. But I have gotten ahead of myself, we need to define and differentiate between probiotics and prebiotics first. Probiotics are live bacteria which are ingested and intended to promote health. They naturally occur in fermented food products, like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, and can also be taken as over-the-counter supplements. On the other hand, prebiotics are not living organisms, but rather food particles that feed and support the life of the bacteria which already live in your gut. Oligosaccharides, mainly fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and inulin are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by humans, but support healthy strains of bacteria in our gut. These oligosaccharides can be naturally found in many fruits, vegetables, and beans and are a significant part of many people’s diets around the world. Synbiotics are only contained in supplements and are a mixture of both prebiotics and probiotics. Providing probiotics (living bacteria) with prebiotics (food source) make the probiotics live longer and become more shelf-stable.

            As touched on earlier, probiotics and prebiotics are naturally found in many types of food that you probably already eat. Fermented products like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, and sourdough bread contain probiotics while prebiotics are found in nearly all fruits, vegetables, and beans. Because probiotics and prebiotics are available in many different types of food, I personally do not see a need in taking supplements. However, if you have certain digestive disorders or a very limited diet, a dietitian may recommend you to use such supplements. Remember, what is healthy for me is not necessarily healthy for you! Health is a very individualized process.

A healthy microbiome can be marked by healthy digestion. If you have a regular poop cycle, your microbiome is probably very happy! Sometimes our cycle gets out of whack and we get sick with diarrhea or constipation for whatever reason. Thankfully, probiotics have been the most researched for their prevention of diarrhea and constipation, including people who have IBS, IBD, and even traveler’s diarrhea. An increased intake of fermented foods may be helpful during or after bouts of sickness to reestablish a healthy microbiome. Other probiotic claims, such as their effects on obesity, aging, and diabetes need to be further researched before any definite declarations can be made.

Overall, probiotics and prebiotics are not a scam. They are definitely real and can have real benefits. Fermented foods have been consumed for thousands of years across multiple geographies and cultures across the globe. However, not everyone needs to take supplements, in fact, most people probably don’t need to take them! As a rule of thumb, it is usually better to get nutrients, including probiotics, from whole foods, rather than supplements, because whole foods are richer in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and other important nutrients.

Problematic Diet Culture Vocabulary

Photo credit: https://rafflespress.com/2016/11/07/riot-at-the-diet/by

By Claire Benoist, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Diet culture is a lot like the monsters that used to live in our closet and under our beds as kids: scary and intimidating. With those monsters, we could usually just hide under the covers and try our best to ignore the noises and shadows until we eventually fell asleep. Unfortunately, diet culture is a really big monster that makes a lot of noise, making it difficult to ignore. So, this is one that we are just going to have to face and conquer. Let’s break down some of the most common diet culture vocabulary words, and tackle this beast one word at a time.

Let’s start by break down the word cheat. In school, cheating on an exam or on an assignment, results in serious disciplinary action. In a relationship, cheating breaks trust and can lead to breakups and divorce. Cheating is an ugly thing that leads to heartbreaking consequences. This word does not belong anywhere near food. Using cheat or cheating to describe meals and treats makes us believe, even subconsciously, that we are doing something morally wrong. And in case no one has told you recently, there is nothing wrong with indulging in your favorite foods.

I am a big believer that we shouldn’t need cheat days. We should be able to enjoy all foods without rules or the need to break them. Prioritizing a balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, proteins and whole grains means exactly that: we are prioritizing those foods. Meaning we can also eat all the other foods we want, too!

The bottom line, call “cheat meals” what they are: pizza, ice cream, a treat, a food that reminds you of your childhood, comfort food, a traditional family recipe…and whatever you call it, savor it and leave cheating out of it.

Food can be and do a lot of things. It provides us with necessary nutrients that fuel our everyday activities. It can be a celebration of culture or religion. It can provide comfort and pleasure. It can be nostalgic. But food does not and cannot hold moral value. Nothing you eat can make you a bad person for eating it. This term “guilt-free” insinuates that you should feel guilty when you eat something that isn’t a fruit, vegetable or whole grain. Well, we at Healthy Aggies are here to tell you, that’s not true!  

Natural is one of those buzz words that sounds so good. #nofilter am I right? A study conducted by Ohio State University showed that people believe that foods featuring the words “natural” or “all-natural” on their labels are of higher quality and nutritional content and are therefore willing to pay more for those foods. But what does natural actually even mean on a food label?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a food as natural when it contains “nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source)”. That’s a very broad definition that can describe a lot of foods. For example, sugar is a natural product. It’s extracted from plants and then goes through processing to be purified, lightened, dried and packaged for distribution. Nothing artificial and no coloring added. But as we all know, table sugar isn’t exactly high in nutritional content or quality. So, save your dollars Aggies, natural is just a marketing buzz word brought to you by our old friend diet culture that doesn’t actually tell you much about its contents.

This is a big one. But let’s break it down. Yes, some processed foods have a ton of added sugars, saturated fats, sodium and a lot of other ingredients that are questionable at best. But that’s not the only example of processed foods. Nuts and seeds have to be processed (shelled, roasted and ground) to become nut or seed butters. Frozen produce is processed (washed and cut) before it is packaged and stocked in your local grocery store freezer. Fruits have to be processed (pressed) to become fruit juice. See? Processed foods aren’t that scary after all!

I’ll keep this one short: unless your food has literal dirt on it, it’s clean!

Words are powerful. They can have a significant psychological effect on us whether we realize it or not. Diet culture is not a monster we will defeat overnight or in a single article. But the more we know, and the more we break down the myths we are led to believe, the less powerful it will eventually become. Happy eating, Aggies!