I don’t have time…



you always have time

By:  Jackie Ahern, Nutrition Peer Counselor, Fitness and Wellness, UC Davis

“I don’t have time to…” fill in the blank with whatever old New Year’s resolution or healthy habit you’ve been wanting to implement in your life. Think: exercise, meal prep, take baths, or catch up with a friend. I find myself saying this a lot, meanwhile I somehow always find the time to binge watch Friends until 1 am, when really I should have taken the extra minute to floss. We’ve all been there.

So what does it mean to not have time? Is it that there really isn’t enough hours in the day to take a 30 minute walk, or cut up some extra vegetables for the week? When you do the math, there’s 1440 minutes in a day and 30 minutes is only 2% of that. This calls for a change in perspective.

Let’s talk about priorities. I’d like to challenge you to shift your way of thinking from, “I don’t have the time” to, “It’s not a priority for me right now.”

“I don’t have the time” is an absolute negative, where there is no possible way you could achieve this task and it is out of your control. It also removes yourself from the issue, ridding yourself from the responsibility of your own choices. It seems like an innocent enough mindset, but it is not a good strategy to live with intention.

Meanwhile, “It’s not a priority for me right now” is an acknowledgement of your own decision, that whatever you’re not doing (me personally: flossing) is a result of your own choices. This isn’t a negative thing, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection. You are in control of your priorities. Shifting your mindset in regards to your choices gives you the power to question if your current habits are your true priority. Ask yourself, is watching Netflix a priority over exercise? Is scrolling through social media a priority over cooking a balanced meal? If it is, great! If it isn’t, reflect on that and make a change.

With finals around the corner, studying will definitely be a high priority item for myself and other students; however don’t forget to make self-care a high priority as well. Take study breaks, fuel your body with good foods, and practice deep breathing if you feel stressed out. Good luck Healthy Aggies!

Making healthier choices eating out


By: Debbie Dang, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

As students trying to survive the brutality of the quarter system at UC Davis, we sometimes find ourselves having little time to cook during the week. This forces us to go out and buy foods that are fast and easily accessible. But how can we eat healthy AND optimize our time simultaneously, living this lifestyle? Here are 10 tips to achieve both!

  1. Check what is in the food you’re considering ordering

The first step to eating healthier is to scan the ingredients. Doing this will help you make a decision that supports your nutrition goals.  Keep choosemyplate in mind and look for entrees with a balance of grains, protein and fruits and veggies. If you can’t find one, order a side of veggies.

  1. Go with a plan

People tend to arrive at a restaurant or food joint without a plan. This increases the chance of buying impulsively. Looking at the menu ahead of time can help you decide on a healthier meal and decrease that risk of buying an extra order of fries! So, take a quick study break and peruse the online menu.

  1. Practice portion control

Restaurants will often serve two to three times more than what is considered a serving on their food label. Instead of eating that whole platter, ask the restaurant to box up half of the meal into a to-go box. Or if you’re eating with a friend, share a meal.

  1. Watch your fat intake

Many processed and restaurant foods contain saturated fat in order to increase storage life and enhance the taste and mouthfeel. Eating too many of these fats can increase your chances of coronary heart disease. Avoid eating more than 10% of your calories from saturated fats.  That would be about 22 gms per day maximum.  Sometimes this information is difficult to find at restaurants.  Beware of large quantities of fatty meats, cheese and butter.

  1. Minimize your sodium intake

Salt is used to reduce microbial growth and enhance the taste of foods, but eating too much can be detrimental to your health! A high salt intake can result in hypertension or high blood pressure. Limit your salt intake to less than 2,300 mg/day. When eating out, ask the restaurant to minimize the salt and use herbs and spices to add flavor instead!

  1. Skip the sweetened beverage

Sweetened beverages like boba milk tea or soda have a high sugar content, which can increase your risk for Type 2 Diabetes over time. Skip these sugar-laden drinks and drink water instead! If water is too bland for you, an alternative is to drink water that is infused with vegetables or fruit.  Most restaurants will provide a lemon wedge. 

  1. Substitute some items on your plate

Making simple changes by substituting foods with healthier choices can make a big difference in the long run. For example, when ordering a taco bowl at Chipotle, you can choose brown rice instead of white rice. Or instead of buying a side of fries, ask for a side of vegetables.

  1. Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets

It’s easy to fall into the temptation of all-you-can eat buffets. Eating at a buffet oftentimes invokes students to “eat their money’s worth.” But the foods at buffets are usually high in fat and salt. Overeating these foods may increase your risk for high cholesterol, hypertension, and heart disease! Take the opportunity to load up on veggies at the salad bar.

  1. Ask for sauces and dip on the side

Restaurants will often mix your salads or fries with the sauce for your convenience. Some of these sauces can make your healthy meal unhealthy! Asking for sauces on the side will help you monitor how much you use. 

  1. Practice mindful eating

It takes time for your body to send cues to your brain to tell you you’re full. Oftentimes distractions like your phone or favorite TV series may cause you to be less attentive to your body cues. This can lead to overeating. However, being mindful of your body cues will help you avoid this. To practice mindful eating, eat slowly and without distractions. Listening to how much your body actually wants will help you practice eating only until you’re full.

Try these tips the next time you go out to eat! Choosing healthier choices will be beneficial in the long run and help you take control of your life.


Oh crap.


By: Monika Ax, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

Hey Healthy Aggies! I know you love reading about different health topics and learning new ways to improve your daily lifestyle, but today I’m here to talk about something a little more personal, and a little nastier…going number 2! It is something that EVERYBODY does (surprise), but for some reason, people are too shy to talk about. Doing your business is one of the most important things you can do in the day for your body. We need to poop every day to get rid of wastes and toxins! If you are continuously having trouble in the toilet, it might be your body’s way of telling you something is wrong in your diet or lifestyle. The average person goes to the bathroom 1-3 times a day (sometimes more if you’re lucky), and the health of your cycle can tell you how well your digestive track is working.

For those of you that struggle with a irregular cycle, do not fret! Ditch the coffee and laxatives, because I’m here to give you some tips and tricks that have been proven to get your digestive tract back on track.

Tip 1: Eat more fiber!

It is recommended that you get 25-30 grams of fiber a day from your foods. However, the average adult is only getting about 15 grams of fiber. Fiber is a weird nutrient because we don’t actually digest it, but it aids in getting your digestive tract flowing. Soluble fiber (oats, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans…) dissolves with water and helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fiber (bran, lentils, vegetables) absorb water and bulk up your digestive tract, which helps to get things moving along. Try switching to whole grain products over refined grains, and consuming WHOLE fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils.

Tip 2: Drink more water!

Going off of tip one, it is important to make sure you are drinking enough water every day to actually get your GI tract moving. Otherwise, all the food/ toxins/ fiber will just get clogged up inside you. Water helps flush out toxins and push your stool right on out! Try drinking 8 oz. of water 30 minutes before a meal, and 30 minutes after. Avoid drinking water during meals because this can cause unwanted bloating!

Tip 3: Get more sleep, and keep a regular sleeping pattern!

Our bodies run on clockwork. For most people, certain times a day are associated with meal time. The same goes for our digestive tracts! If you are consistently getting enough sleep, and going to bed and waking up at the same time, your body and digestive tract will catch on to that. You will start to develop a regular bathroom schedule, as your body knows when it wants to go. If you throw off your sleeping pattern, your digestive tract will be thrown off as well. A well-rested body makes everything function better!

Tip 4: Get moving!

If you’re sedentary all day, it’s more likely that your tract will get backed up. If you get outside, jump around, run, or do any type of physical activity. It will help to get your engine running! Not to mention it will help you feel better all around. Try going on a walk first thing in the morning, or mid after-noon if you’re feeling a little bloated.

Give these tips and tricks a try! I can assure you that your body and gut will thank me later.


Grocery 101

Grocery BlogpostBy: Joely Zeng, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

As college students, finding the motivation and time to cook everyday can be a nightmare. Meal prep as you may know is a great option to solve this dilemma but do you ever think, how do I start? Or do you have an idea of what you want to cook for the week but are unsure of how to maximize your grocery shopping? Here are some tips on how to get started and to get the best bang for your buck.

  1. Plan Beforehand

Arrive at the grocery store with a plan in mind of what your menu is going to be. I always like to think that I can make up a menu on the spot if I see ingredients like on an episode of Chopped. But it ends up being a task that is unrealistic, time consuming, and can make you spend more, so stick to at least having an idea of what you would like to meal prep. Another method to save money is to think of or pick recipes where ingredients can overlap with other recipes. This means that you can either meal prep more than recipe or you can reuse the ingredients for a future recipe. Using seasonal produce in your menu for the week can also help cut down on costs as those ingredients are sold at cheaper prices because of large abundance.

  1. Make a List and Eat a Snack

Make a list of all the ingredients you need to purchase. I’ve definitely been a victim of going back to the same grocery store to grab an ingredient I forgot. Lists are not only satisfying to either check off or scratch off, but they’ll help prevent you from forgetting anything. Before you head out the door with your list also try to eat a snack. This will help you avoid buying extra snacks or foods you thought looked super appealing at the store. What’s even more dangerous is that when you’re hungry, the snacks or foods that are so attractive tend to also not be the healthiest like pizza or chips.

  1. Location Location Location!

Location is also something you should be thinking about when buying the ingredients on your list. Unfortunately not all grocery stores have the same pricing for ingredients. So let’s breakdown the available major supermarkets that you could possibly shop at in Davis and you can decide which one is the right one for you.

From my experience..

Trader Joe’s  

  • Cheapest produce
  • Great selection of prewashed and precut fruits/vegetables
  • Raw meats & cheese are a bit pricier
  • Missing name brand products


  • Cheaper dairy products (i.e. cheese)
  • Good selection of cheap sliced bread
  • Cheap raw meats
  • Produce is relatively cheap


  • Expensive produce
  • Has the most coupons/sales
  • Convenience of being open 24/7

Grocery Outlet

  • Cheap produce, meats, snacks (basically everything)
  • Best-by/ Expiration dates very near on most products
  • Lack of variety

For the best results, mix and match to save the most money.


To be efficient and get the most bang for your buck, plan accordingly and go to the grocery that best fits the specific ingredients. In addition, show up at the grocery store not hungry with a prepared menu in mind and list in hand.

Mysterious Secret InGredient: What is MSG?


Mysterious Secret InGredient: What is MSG?

We have a few notions about MSG. It’s salty. It makes an appearance in Asian cuisine. And it may not be good for us. But what exactly is it? Can we really experience side effects from eating it? And overall, could it actually cause harm so that we can never eat instant ramen and Chinese cuisine again?? HELP!

What exactly is MSG?

To explain it in a way that is not terrifyingly scientific, MSG or monosodium glutamate is a compound of glutamic acid (a non-essential amino acid) and a sodium molecule.

You can find glutamic acid naturally in foods like tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. MSG on the other hand, was manufactured by a University of Tokyo chemistry professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1908. The discovery of MSG, added to the four basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter with a new taste called umami. Umami is used to describe a meaty and savory taste like in a juicy cheeseburger hence the popular burger chain called UMAMI Burger.

What about Side Effects? How did MSG gain a bad reputation?

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, or MSG symptom complex is a group of conditions some people report after having a meal that includes MSG. Symptoms reported included nausea, headaches, and numbness.

However, these symptoms were not reported until 1968 after a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine became popular. Ironically, a Chinese-American man, Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok in the letter theorized that MSG was the culprit for his symptoms of numbness, general weakness, and palpitation after eating at Chinese restaurants. What adds to this interesting history is that MSG was actually quite popular prior to letter and not just in Chinese cuisine as it was heavily used in World War II to add flavor to bland soldiers’ rations.

Since 1968, studies have been done to confirm the safety of MSG as a food additive.

Harmful for my health?

The FDA has determined that MSG is generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

Double blind studies have shown little correlation between MSG and negative symptoms. The amount of MSG you eat in foods is also typically a very small amount so it’s not likely to cause any problems. But pun intended, take this information with a grain of salt. Because those that are against MSG claim that MSG producers fund these studies (and skew results…), while those that are for MSG claim those that are anti-MSG are just instilling fear in the public.


Studies indicate that MSG is generally safe for most people. There may be an occasional person who is sensitive to it. If that is the case, read labels and avoid foods with added MSG. In addition, the FDA’s designation for MSG doesn’t mean that other aspects of the ingredient, like the sodium level are not of concern. So even though MSG is safe, it does not necessarily mean no consequences can come from eating a spoonful of it everyday. But feel free to enjoy your instant ramen with MSG flavoring as a treat once in awhile!






Undercover Veggies


Undercover Veggies

Vegetables are not everyone’s favorite thing to eat, but the vitamins, minerals and fiber in vegetables and fruits are essential for health. According the USDA, individuals between the ages of 19-30 years old are recommended 2.5-3 cups of vegetables per day… that is not even counting fruit.  It can be difficult to eat that much in just one day! Check out some tips below; eating the recommended amount can become easier, and tastier too, with a little practice.

  1. Include vegetables in your pasta sauce

Be sure to take advantage of fresh and frozen veggies when making your pasta sauce.  You’re looking for 50% of the food on your plate being veggies!!  Add some mushrooms, zucchini, and broccoli into your tomato sauce before mixing in your pasta. For a rich vegetable flavor, use an immersion blender to partially puree the vegetable pieces in the sauce.  Try blending some cauliflower into the cheese sauce of your mac and cheese; you’ll be packing on the vitamins and minerals while giving the sauce a bright flavor.

  1. Kale and spinach blended into your smoothies

This one isn’t groundbreaking; if the flavor of greens isn’t your favorite, try mixing kale or spinach (or both) with tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango and citrus fruits. The powerful flavors of tropical fruits hide the flavors of these leafy greens. It’s a great way to add vitamin K and a serving of vegetables to your smoothies without a trace!

  1. Add zucchini to your baking

This one’s a little bit of a cheat, but adding the zucchini makes it healthy, right? This is for my sweet tooth friends, adding zucchini actually adds moisture to baked products and provides potassium and vitamin C.   So bring on the carrot cake and zucchini muffins when you feel like baking.

  1. Roast up several pounds of veggies once a week

Now you‘ve got ready to eat, cooked veggies at your command.  For the seasons, try:

  • Summer: zucchini and yellow squash, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, green beans
  • Winter: Acorn, butternut or delicata squash, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, onions and cabbage
  • Spring: Asparagus and cabbage along with your root veggies cellared from winter.

Add these to casseroles, salads, and eat with meat meals as you go through the week.

Here is a great resource for roasting veggies.




Things to do today to improve your tomorrow


When a person has no aches and pains and no major health concerns, it’s easy to forget that such luxury is not forever. For most of us, there will come a day when our bones are not as strong, our muscles not as flexible, and our joints not as pain free. However, taking care of yourself early can really improve how you feel in the future. Staying healthy later in life starts early, and there are many small habits and routines you can develop to keep your body running it’s best as you age. In addition to eating your fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, here are some easy things you can do now, for a better tomorrow.


Weight Bearing Exercise

Most exercises are beneficial long and short term, however weight bearing exercises in particular can help in strengthening your bone for the future. Bone fractures are very prominent in older individuals because as a person ages, bones naturally begin to weaken and deteriorate. This process can be slowed down by reaching a higher bone density peak. Exercises involving weight and resistance maintains and builds bone density. In addition, it improves strength and muscle mass for better balance.


Find Time to De-stress

Stress is clearly not a positive emotion but it also has negative long term effects. Studies have shown a link between stress and heart disease. This is largely due to the short term effects of stress; stress often causes people to overeat, smoke, and be involved in other health depreciating activities.


Limit Alcohol Consumption

Though alcohol has been known to have heart protective properties, more often than not, people misunderstand other implications. Drinking to excess can raise blood pressure, weaken the heart’s ability to circulate blood, and increase cancer and stroke risks. In addition, long term alcohol use can lead to the risk of brain damage and neurobehavioral defects. This is because alcohol affects the sensitive chemical balance in the brain, which also can have negative effects on emotional state.


Regular Visits to the Doctor

It may not seem like you need to visit the doctor if you are not experiencing any medical concerns, but problems can sometimes surface without detectable warning. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are virtually undetectable without medical screening. Keep yourself in check by making sure your body is as healthy on the inside as you feel on the outside.


Protect Your Skin

As the weather gets warmer, tanning and sunbathing tends to become a go to activity for many people. While sun-kissed skin may be highly desirable, sun exposure is linked with skin cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancers in the United States. Effects of skin cancer are also undetectable until years down the line. Keep your skin protected now and limit your sun exposure, wear sunscreen, and cover up as much as you comfortably can.


Remember that preventing one is more effective than trying to fix a health problem. Though everything seems fine right now, as you age you may realize that many health concerns could have been prevented if you had developed good habits earlier in life. Look out for your future and aim to live a long and healthy life.