Does Eating really fix the problem?

smiley sad face on dish with donuts eyes chocolate mouth
Source: OcusFocus/Getty Images

By: Vivian Siu, Healthy Aggies Nutrition Intern

Why do we eat? Besides the obvious reason that we need fuel to keep us healthy and moving, we eat because food is yummy. There’s a form of happiness that comes from eating a warm, fudgy brownie. Eating is also important during celebrations, reunions, or simply hanging out. With so much cultural diversity in this town, there are so many food choices available that make it that much harder to find an excuse to not go eat. However, there’s another reason why some of us eat. We refer to it as ‘snacking’ but sometimes it is a coping mechanism – then it is stress or emotional eating.

Reasons we eat outside of hunger

  1. We relate ‘Food’ to ‘pleasure’.

At the end of a tiring, long day what is one thing you can look forward to? A plate of fries or maybe a bowl of ice cream? Both can give you a temporary feeling of happiness, and if you’re like me, those types of comfort food are often associated with feelings of bliss, at least at first.  

But, instead of associating food that sense of pleasure and then suffering the consequences of too much junk, not enough nutrients, or just eating more food than you need, try using different activities to accomplish the bliss goal. What about that painting class you always wanted to take or learning how to play the guitar to serenade your cat and enjoy some music when you arrive home after a hard day?   This will feel especially doable if you’ve been practicing good, adequate eating habits throughout your day and are not famished! Having other activities besides eating to look forward to can cause you feel that same bliss.

  1. To avoid difficult situations and/or feelings.

During time of hardships and challenges, for many of us – including myself, we tend to avoid feelings. Avoiding feelings makes us more likely to seek out temporary fixes such as eating that feel good during the moment, but are very temporary, in fact may make things worse.  

One important fact to remember is that it’s okay to feel sad, mad, and frustrated. If it wasn’t for these feelings, would we know what happiness really is? Learning how to talk about your feelings, whether it be in the form of journaling, calling a hotline, or talking to a friend, can help you realize the deeper rooted problem that is causing you to want to turn to food for comfort.

  1.     Physiological Response.

One thing I’ve learned from my 2 ½ years of college so far is that there are days where I can be swamped with work, class, assignments, studying, you get the idea, right? If I don’t take the time to feed myself, lovingly throughout the day, I find myself more irritable and more susceptible to my cravings/eating more junk food because I’m “hangry” when I finally get home.

Having a regular and nutritious meal schedule is important to staying healthy and lessening the likelihood of emotional eating.

  1.     Self-Image.

Society has led most to believe that beautiful means thin and skinny, with flat tummies.

Our lives are filled with some of the most innovative and connected technology, it can be hard to avoid societal influences of what beauty is. In reality, beauty is something that cannot be defined, at least not by society. Beauty is more than just appearances. It can be seen through the actions of taking care of yourself, being true to who you are, being kind to friends, family, and strangers, taking care of the earth, and the list could go on. If taking care of yourself means indulging in some sweets once in a while, that’s perfectly fine. Just remember that eating as a temporary fix for whatever challenge you may be facing is okay, but it’s important to remember that addressing the problem can pave the way to a more permanent solution.

National Nutrition Month 2018!


By: Johanna Yao, Healthy Aggies intern

“I am going to eat healthier starting tomorrow,” I say for the hundredth time this quarter after I feel sick indulging in a bunch of Girl Scouts Cookies. We tend to have these bursts of motivation to become healthier after days of bad eating, however motivation is often lost once the next meal comes around. Eating healthy is challenging, especially as a college student. Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Now is the perfect time to re-evaluate goals towards developing healthier eating habits! Here are 5 tips I follow to be healthier:


  • Swap unhealthy snacks for something better


Instead of opting to eat junk food such as cookies, candy and chips,  pack some fruit or veggies instead. Examples of fruit that can be tossed in your lunchbag include apples, tangerines or bananas; and as for veggie snacks, go for celery and peanut butter or baby carrots with hummus. These choices not only provide vitamins and minerals but also help you fulfill the daily MyPlate portions!


  • Practice portion control!


We have all experienced the “shock” after we eat half a bag of chips without even realizing it. Eating from a bag promotes mindless eating, and you end up consuming massive amount of calories without even thinking.  Alternatively, place one serving of chips in a bowl. Now you are in control of your portion size, and will be less tempted to overeat.


  • Bring your reusable water bottle everywhere you go!


Carrying your reusable water bottle around with you is not only a reminder to stay hydrated, it will also help curb your cravings for sugary drinks! Instead of buying bottles of sugar heavy drinks, choose to refill your water bottle and carry on with your day!


  • Meal Prep!


Though it can be hassle to cook (since we could be using that time to study), setting aside 1-2 hours during the weekend to make meals for the rest of the week is not only more time efficient but often healthier and cheaper. This way, you know exactly what is going on your plate and you can alter proportions and taste to your to your liking. Additionally, planning ahead is more budget friendly than buying food for each meal.


  • Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach!


You’ve heard this before, but research has shown that being hungry can have an effect on the way we shop.  When hungry, a hormone is produced that enhances your impulsiveness and hinders your ability to make rational decisions. If you go into a grocery store hungry, you are more likely to buy foods that you crave at the moment, but wouldn’t buy normally. Eating something before shopping can help prevent you from impulsively buying foods that are not on your list.

Becoming healthy can seem like a long and never ending journey, but making small changes in your everyday habits can make a big difference in the long run. By implementing these small but attainable goals, taking care of your body is a lot easier!

Self-injury Awareness



Self-injury is not uncommon among people, especially in adolescents and young adults. The results can be very serious. Appropriate treatment can help people recover from self-harming behaviors, so it is important to increase awareness of the problem. Here are some clues and tips of how to tell if someone is self-harming, and what can we do to help them.


What is Self-harm?


Self-harm or self-injury is when people hurt themselves on purpose. Most common self-harm injuries are cuts made by knives, but they can range to extreme injuries like broken bones. Self-injury is a sign of mental distress, and people often use self-injury as a way to get rid of negative emotions. Self-injury may also lead to the feeling of guilt or shame, and when this feeling is intense, they may hurt themselves again.


By observing carefully how people act and what they say, we can be more aware if this person is considering self-harm . For example, if you find someone who is always saying something negative and complaining about everything around him/her; or are always wearing long sleeves even in very hot weather to potentially hide self-harm scars and/or fresh wounds, this person may be hurting him/herself.


What can you do to help?


When you notice this behavior, you can go through the process of “ALGEE to help them. ALGEE is an acronym explaining how best to approach a situation where someone may be self-harming.  A means Assess the situation for risk of suicide or harm; L means Listen to nonjudgmentally; G means Give reassurance and information; E means Encourage appropriate professional help, and again for Encourage self-help and other support.


Treatment and coping


For people who are considering self-harm, information below details the treatments and coping mechanisms:


    • Psychotherapy
      • Talking to a trusted confidant is the first step of treatment. This person could be a parent, friend, medical professional, or the best option would be a psychologist. During the conversation, a psychologist can explore their past experiences and emotions, and help people to release the pressure they put on themselves.  


    • Medication
      • Depending on the severity of the situation, doctors may prescribe medication to help overcome different emotions and emotional changes.


What are some resources on campus? Online?


If you are worried someone is suffering from this behavior, and you cannot give them proper help, here is contact information for professional support:


    • Student Health and Counseling Services: (530) 752-2349
    • Yolo County Health & Human Services Agency: (530) 666-8630
      • 24-hour Crisis Line: 888- 965-6647
    • Suicide prevention 24-hour helpline
      • 1-888-233-0228



Body Positive


By Kristen Lok, Healthy Aggies Nutrition intern

In our current society it’s easy to believe that looks are everything. From advertisements to Instagram models it is difficult to escape the societal pressure of having the “perfect body” or the idea that “the thinner the better”. In light of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I’ve been reflecting on whether our appearances really hold such importance to me and have decided the answer is no. I personally have felt the pressure of these expectations, plaguing myself with thoughts like “Am I too skinny?”, “Am I too fat?” or “Am I enough?”. I think our worth is not dependent on looks, but rather our actions, words and hearts that speak so much about the true beauty within us. Furthermore, I believe our bodies are something that we, alone, have the power to change, not society. We should be proud of and comfortable in our bodies. But in all honesty at times, it’s still hard to love our bodies. So how do we learn to accept and love our bodies? Here are some strategies I find helpful to stay body positive:

  1. Focus on what you love about yourself

                It’s easy to look in the mirror and see the things we think we don’t like about our physical appearance. The more we linger on these thoughts the more uncomfortable and negative we are towards our bodies. Instead, focus on the things you love about yourself both inside and out. This positive thinking can lead to a path of acceptance and comfort in our bodies.   

  1. Be wary of the messages on social media and advertisements

      Not everything we see from the media is what it seems to be. Many advertisements and magazines alter their photos. This gives us unrealistic expectations of what our bodies should and can be. Setting these expectations for ourselves will only leave us disappointed and feeling like a failure. So try filtering out companies or media accounts that body shame. Focusing and supporting body inclusive brands will spread more positivity.

  1. Try to stop comparing yourself to others

      We all have unique body shapes and sizes. Diversity is what makes us different and special. So embrace everything that makes up your body, because it is what makes you, “you”.  

I hope this week, you are able to reflect not only on how to stay body positive but also how to spread body positivity. Everyone struggles with loving their bodies. Therefore, being able to create a safe and accepting community will encourage us to feel confident and comfortable in our own skin. Look for the best in people because it not only inspires others to love their body but helps you too!

No time to be sick?



By: Vivian Siu, Healthy Aggies Nutrition Intern

Can you believe it’s week 7 already? With the second wave of midterms, work, internships, and everything else in between, what could be the cherry on top? It’s the feeling that you’re about to catch a cold or even worse, the flu. For me, the last thing I’d want to do is rest since I know I’d fall behind. Well, what should you do then if you find yourself with a cold or the flu? Here are some tips to help you avoid getting sick or to help you recover!

  1.     Get some rest and relax – lots of it.

As a busy college student, time is of the essence. Resting doesn’t always seem like a good use of time because that’s time that could be spent studying, working, or hanging out with friends. However, it’s important to allow your body to rest, in order to help it fight off any infections. Another benefit of resting is that you lessen the chances of passing your cold to someone else by decreasing the exposure rate to others. It’s important to relax as well, because stress can prolong the length of your illness and make you feel worse.  

  1.     Stay hydrated!

Most people believe that drinking more fluids “flushes out” the cold, but in actuality, it rebalances the electrolytes and blood volume in your body. When the body is dehydrated, the body doesn’t perform as well causing our blood to thicken. Which then makes the heart focus on improving blood circulation, instead of focusing on fighting the infection. In addition, drinking hot fluids can help soothe sore throats and congestion. Specifically, hot tea has natural bacteria-fighting compounds, and chicken soup contains an amino acid, cysteine, that is known to remedy nose congestion and persistent coughs. But if you’re looking for something more simple, just add lemon slices to your water!

  1.     Wash your hands often.

As simple as this may sound, it makes a big difference. How often do you find yourself touching your eyes, mouth, and nose? Well, these are all openings for bacteria to get in which can cause you to get sick. Bacteria from your hands can also transfer to objects such as door handles which increases the risk of infecting other people.

  1.     Eat nutrient-dense food.  

If you’re like me, I tend to lose my appetite when I’m feeling sick. However, during times of sickness, it’s even more important to have enough nutrients so you provide your body with enough energy and resources to fight off the infection. Here are some foods that I incorporate into my diet when I’m feeling sick.

  • Fruits

My personal favorite are citrus fruits because they’re so refreshing. Many people tend to go for vitamin C supplements when they’re feeling sick. However, fruits like oranges, kiwis, and lemons contain flavonoids, which can boost your immune system and speed up your recovery.

***Note, if you experience symptoms of an upset stomach, you might want to avoid citrus foods because the acidity can further irritate your stomach.

  • Ginger

Put it on anything and everything! Personally, I’m not a fan of ginger tea because of the spicy burn that accompanies it. My go-to meal is chopping up the ginger and adding it into rice porridge. I swear-by this remedy because it instantly helps me breathe better. This is because ginger is a natural expectorant, meaning it can help break down and remove mucus; thus, it clears up your sinuses and helps you breathe better.

Everyone gets sick. But eating nutrient dense foods and being active can help prevent you from getting sick often and, along with plenty of rest, help you feel better faster. Another preventative measure is to get your seasonal flu shot. For UC Davis students, you can schedule an appointment to get your flu shot over at the Student Health and Wellness Center. For more information, visit their website here.


Valentine’s Day Alternatives?

chocolate heart

By Michele Lum, Healthy Aggies Intern, UC Davis

It’s that time of the year again, where loved ones show their appreciation toward each other by enjoying a romantic dinner together or exchanging sweets. Sweets can have a negative impact on your health, so does that mean you shouldn’t eat any on this special day? Absolutely not. Although it is recommended to avoid consuming too many sweets on a daily basis, it is okay to treat yourself once in a while. At the same time, it’s good to keep some alternatives in mind. Here are 5 easy ways you can make your Valentine’s Day healthier and more meaningful.


  • Opt for Dark Chocolate


Dark chocolate has a lot of health benefits! Quality dark chocolate, which are those with a high percentage of cocoa, has less sugar and can be pretty nutritious. It contains fiber, iron, magnesium, and a lot more. It is also a good source of antioxidants, which help decrease inflammation in our body. Short term inflammation can lead to acne and long-term inflammation can lead to chronic diseases. If dark chocolate is too bitter for you, milk chocolate isn’t the worst option. Just be aware that it contains less nutrients and has more added sugars and creams. Going off of that, white chocolate contains no cocoa solids meaning it has none of the nutrients that dark and milk chocolate do, and is loaded with sugar and cream, making it the least healthy of the three.

2)    Chocolates that Pack a Healthier Punch

Chocolate covered fruit is another way to go. You can buy a box of strawberries or blueberries and dip them into melted chocolate; this way you can receive the nutritional values of the fruits while enjoying the harmony of flavors. If you don’t have enough time to buy fruits and melt chocolate, there’s always the option to buy fruit/nut coated chocolate.

3)    Buy Other Kinds Valentine’s Gifts

Rather than buying chocolate for your Valentine, maybe opt for a stuffed animal or roses. The stuffed animal can keep your partner company while you are out. It has also been said that plushies are able to help with anxiety and depression. The roses can spread their fragrant scent around the house and are also very appealing to the eye.

4)    Cook a Healthy Meal Together

What better way to spend time with your loved one than to cook together? It would be more economical than going out to a fancy restaurant and it could be healthier too. A lot of time for adults or college students, different things like work and school can get in the way of seeing your significant other. Spending those few hours together to cook would be a great and fun way to catch up. It will also help you learn about each other’s food preferences and different skills in the kitchen. Want to make the meal more romantic? You can set some flowers on the table, light some candles, and maybe play some Italian music.

5)    Go on a walk or hike together

Conveniently, this year’s winter in Davis is a lot warmer than usual. You should take advantage of that, grab a water bottle, put on a pair of sneakers and head out to enjoy nature’s beauty alongside your beauty. Maybe you can stroll around the arboretum or even downtown. It would be a cute way to work off some of the calories gained from the sweets or your romantic meal ; it is also the perfect time to spend time talking to each other.

Keeping these tips in mind can help enhance your Valentine’s Day experience and make it more meaningful. If you’re a late planner these tips don’t seem feasible for you, then it is perfectly fine to go out and purchase sweets for your loved ones, just remember that everything is safe in moderation.

What is happening behind all of those temporary walls in the Activity and Recreation Center (ARC)?

Guest Post by:  Deb Johnson, Director, Activities and Recreation Center, UC Davis

This may be a question you are asking yourself or hearing others discuss. We promise you that the growing pains you are experiencing with our expansion project will be worth the wait.

“Wait” is a word that is tough for all of us to swallow with our impacted schedules.  We are aware that our facility is crowded and we are working to provide a space where you will not have to wait for equipment to open up to complete your workout in a timely manner.

To meet the growing needs of students, the campus is expanding the ARC by 16,300 square feet in the existing central courtyard area.

Expanding the ARC facility will include improvements such as:

  • More strength equipment (free weights, racks, benches and Olympic weightlifting platforms)
  • More inviting and open spaces to create your own work-out space
  • The addition of new cardio equipment and increased number of our patrons favorite pieces
  • A new boxing studio
  • New day use lockers throughout first and second levels
  • Outdoor exercise space
  • Expanded cycling studio
  • Expanded cardio loft on the second floor with the addition of views facing outside
  • Enhanced energy efficiency of the building
  • The addition of Wi-Fi

The expansion will result in shorter wait times, allowing ARC members to complete their workouts and return to class, studying or work.

Student fees will not increase to fund the expansion. The project is funded from the FACE/LLEAP initiative that was passed in 1999 to build the ARC. The referendum was designed to allow for the building to be operated, maintained and renovated as it aged. Therefore, the project is being built without any increase in student fees.

We would like to ask for your help!

For the next month, we will be testing out four new pieces of cardio equipment.

  • Alpine Runner: Climb heights of famous landmarks with an incline much steeper than a traditional treadmill.



  • Spectrum: Adjustable stride 13” to 30”


  • A7xi Ascent Trainer: Advanced Sprint 8 High Intensity Interval Training program


  • Rower:  Magnetic resistance, with distance rowing and high-intensity training programs



You can find these pieces located at the Main ARC Entrance off La Rue Road on the first floor.  Please try them out and complete the comment card about your experience to help determine if we should add these new pieces to our cardio loft.

We would also like to know if there is equipment, you really enjoy that you want to see more of at the ARC or something we are missing altogether.  This is a great opportunity for you to share your ideas directly with our director, Deb Johnson.  Please email her at

Keep an eye out for those big blank walls across from the climbing wall, as they will soon have renderings of what is to come so that you too can be excited about the opportunities coming your way.