Healthy Aggies are here!!

By Haley Adel, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Even though we cannot finish this Spring Quarter together on the Davis campus, the Healthy Aggies remain dedicated to providing you with nutrition content and advice! We have broadened our outreach by creating more virtual content. We would like to take a moment to share what new programs we have, and what original programs we are continuing.

Through this pandemic, we have been encouraged to adapt to these new circumstances. Our Healthy Aggies have stepped up to the plate by delivering a great variety of Youtube videos. The content of these range from providing step-by-step instructions for delicious recipes to sharing nutrition facts on subjects such as fat. If you are interested, click here to check out one of the videos!

Additionally, our Instagram account @ucdhealthyaggies has been busy with a new feature. Every weekday a Nutrition Peer Counselor shares a fun nutrition fact over the IG story. From vitamin D to water, questions about nutrition that you may have always had are being answered. There’s also a poll with each story to test your nutrition knowledge. See how much you know about nutrition by answering the poll each day; check in at 5pm when the answer is revealed!

Along with the new programs, we are still continuing old ones such as the nutrition consultations. As a bonus they are now provided at NO COST! If you want to get answers to nutrition questions or analyze what you’re eating, the Peer Counselors are here for you. If you are interested in a free consultation, please contact the UC Davis Living Well center at to schedule your appointment. Here is the brief questionnaire to complete for the appointment.  We also have our monthly newsletter still up and running like usual! Subscribe by sharing your email here.

Finally, the Peer Counselors are currently finishing webinars on fun topics such as Ultra-Processed Foods and a Balanced Plate. These will be available on the Campus Recreation Youtube soon for your viewing!

We hope you are all doing well and safe, and that the last few weeks of this schoolyear are enjoyable. We look forward to you checking out any of these resources that you find interesting!  Let us know how you participate


Eating Disorders: About more than food.


By Maggie Zeng, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Eating Disorders are characterized by irregular eating habits and severe distress or concern about body weight or shape. Even though, many people think an eating disorder is far away from them. According to research, “In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men have or have had an eating disorder at some point in their life”. For the college student, the study shows ” the prevalence of positive screens was 13.5% for women and 3.6% for men”. Eating disorders affect your physical and mental health, leading to a negative effect on well-being as a whole. It’s helpful to know the common types of eating disorders and know where to get help.

Common Types of Eating Disorders

 Anorexia nervosa

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa include extreme limitation of food intake with resulting weight loss. Sufferers may also purge or excessively exercise to burn calories. Most people who suffer from this disorder are severely underweight but still extremely afraid of gaining weight and they generally view themselves as overweight. Anorexia is mostly developed in adolescence and young adulthood and women are more susceptible than men. There are two sub-types of anorexia. One is the restrictive anorexic who uses excessive dieting and fasting to maintain or lose weight, and the other is binge eating with purging. This type uses vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics for weight loss or maintenance purposes.

Common symptoms

  • underweight for age and height
  • restricted eating pattern
  • afraid of gaining weight even though underweight
  • pursuit of and obsession with thinness
  • body weight has impacted their self-esteem
  • distorted body image

The consequences of anorexia are serious and include weakening in the bones, infertility, mental illness, brittle hair, heart disease, or even organ failure and death.

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by frequently eating large amounts of food in a specific time period which results in a painfully full feeling and a feeling of no control over eating behavior. Bulimia also usually develops during adolescence and early adulthood and women are more susceptible than men. Individuals who suffer bulimia also tend to compensate by purging such as forced vomiting, fasting, and excessive exercise even though most bulimia patient are in a normal weight range for height.

Common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • repeated patterns of binge eating
  • repeated patterns of purging behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • body shape and weight strongly affect one’s self-esteem
  • a fear of gaining weight

The consequences of bulimia include sore throat, tooth decay, and acid reflux; if the case is severe enough, an electrolyte imbalance can also occur causing, in extreme cases, stroke and heart attack.

Other Types of Eating Disorders

There are other types of eating disorders.  One example is called Binge Eating Disorder, which has similar symptoms to bulimia but with no compensatory behavior. Pica is another type which involves obsession with eating things that not generally considered food such as ice, paper, soil etc. Rumination disorder is characterized by regurgitating food that is already swallowed and re-chewing it. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is characterized by under eating due to lack of interest in food or the avoidance of certain tastes or smells.

If you know someone who is suffering, let them know you care.  Tell them they are not alone and help them locate resources to help. Although serious, there is a high rate of recovery from eating disorders. It’s best to treat as early as possible. Here is some resources available for yourself and your friends:

UC Davis Resources: Student Health and Counseling Service

National Eating Disorder Association:



Focusing on Mental Health during Quarantine


By Brandy Carrillo, Healthy Aggies Intern

In light of recent events, it’s important that we not only focus on how to stay safe and keep our bodies healthy but that we also protect our own mental health. With Mental Health Awareness month right around the corner, it is crucial that we keep this in mind given the very nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is highly unlikely that the Coronavirus will simply disappear overnight, so we need to be able to address how our mental health may be affected and possible activities and practices that can help alleviate this stress and negativity.

Keep a daily routine

A consequence of the shelter in place order has been the lack of routine in many people’s lives. Structure plays an influential role in our productivity. When we eliminate the ability to physically leave our homes to an environment of productivity (work, school, errands, etc.) it can be difficult to see the distinction between our work environment and our home environment. Develop and stick to a routine.

Get some fresh air and stay active

Taking care of your body and keeping some kind of fitness routine is not only physically but mentally beneficial. It can be as simple as going out for a short walk (while still maintaining social distancing- 6 feet apart!) or doing a quick 15-minute workout video on YouTube. I’ve been personally been making sure I get in my daily cardio and stretching in.

Stay in touch

Technology is truly our knight in shining armor during these uncertain times. We should make the most of our technological devices and stay in touch with peers, friends, family, etc. Keeping up a form of communication with people you love and trust can help alleviate feelings of loneliness.

Indulge in a hobby

Engaging in activities you enjoy and love can act as a mental breather and help you fight boredom while still keeping your brain stimulated. Partaking in fun leisure activities can help reduce stress while encouraging positive emotions. Right now we’ve been thrown into a situation that may feel out of control. This can be quite frustrating and scary. A hobby is something that we have total jurisdiction over and gives us a sense of accomplishment that can make us feel happy and whole.

Plan out healthy meals each week

When you eat well, you begin to manifest that within your whole being. The mantra “eat good, feel good” is no joke. Being stuck at home for a majority of the day can entice us to engage in unhealthy and stress eating. Planning easy yet healthy meals every week can give us a sense of normalcy during these stressful times while nourishing our bodies.

Take it one day at a time

We have to remember that all of these are temporary measures and that we are all experiencing this together. While it is important to stay informed and monitor news updates about COVID-19, we also need to ensure we’re focusing on the facts and not on fear alone. Talking with loved ones about your concerns and any hidden feelings can be extremely therapeutic and comforting.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Social distancing may leave you with mixed emotions and feeling disoriented. Following just a few of these tips, can help you better cope with the current situation and protect your own mental health. What tips and tricks have you been following to power through?

Healthier Dalgona Coffee?

whipped coffee

By Kelly Kim, Healthy Aggies Intern

Are you a daily coffee drinker? If so, you may have heard of the latest homemade coffee trend. If you haven’t heard… let me introduce you to Dalgona coffee! It is a fun and simple recipe, especially when many of us find ourselves with time to spare. There are only four ingredients: water, coffee crystals, coconut sugar, and milk needed for this whipped coffee. As a daily coffee drinker myself, I watched a few tutorials and tried out the recipe at home. I realized that this velvety whipped coffee was a bit sugary and with the amount of coffee I like to drink, I was interested in finding a healthier ingredient while still maintaining the sweetness of the coffee.

In terms of coffee, adding sugar helps shift the bitter tang to a sweeter taste. However, you may want to reduce added sugar for health reasons. I have found that using coconut sugar as an alternative and reducing the amount works well.

Coconut sugar is a natural sugar found in coconut palm trees. The process requires cutting the flower of a coconut palm, collecting the liquid sap and then heating the sap until most of the water has evaporated. You are left with a granulated coconut sugar. No other processing is needed. It is no miracle replacement for table sugar, the two are quite similar, but coconut sugar does contain more nutrients even if only by a small amount. It contains nutrients such as zinc, calcium, potassium, iron, and fatty acids like polyphenols and antioxidants. It also contains a fiber known as inulin. Inulin tends to lower glycemic index, which is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels; it may help prevent a blood sugar spike.

You may choose to replace the table sugar with a reduced amount of coconut sugar when making this dreamy Dalgona drink! Or try it with regular sugar, but add just as much as you need.


  • Milk of choice (unsweetened oat, soy, almond or low-fat dairy) [1-2 cups]
  • Coffee crystals [2 Tbsp]
  • Coconut or regular sugar (as desired) [½ -1 Tbsp]
  • Hot boiled water [2Tbsp]


  1. Whisk coffee, hot water, and coconut sugar with a mixer. Continue to whisk for 3-6 minutes until it becomes a foamy consistency and you have your whipped coffee mixture
  2. Pour cold or hot milk into an empty cup and then top with the mixture made in step 1. Stir well and enjoy!

Let me know how you like it!

What’s in your cabinets?

By: Haley Adel, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

What strange times we are living in with COVID-19 and quarantining! Our everyday lives are definitely different than usual. This, however, can provide a great opportunity to try something new. Whether it’s for the sake of productivity or just for fun, here are some ideas for entertaining yourself with what’s in your kitchen cabinets.


If you are up for a yummy challenge, try this idea: Make a delicious charcuterie board using only foods that you currently have stocked in your kitchen. A charcuterie board is an arrangement of meat and cheeses typically served on a wooden cutting board. The board can also include nuts, fruit and jams, bread, and the likes. But this is your creation so add whatever you desire! Be creative and choose foods that you think pair well together. Search your cupboards because you never know what you’ll discover!

If you are experiencing an itch for organization, organize your spice cabinet. If you are tired of always searching around for your spices, now’s a great time to change that. And it’s all up to you how you want to organize it. Whether you want to go the traditional route of alphabetizing them, or mix it up a little and pair off spices that are commonly used together, it’s your choice. Save future time by rearranging your spice cabinet now.

During this time, self-care is also important. One relaxing way to do that inside your home is by making a face mask. They only take a few items to make, and the ingredients can usually be found in your kitchen. If you want it to feel like a “spa day” with friends, have them make masks too and Facetime when you all have yours on. The following are some easy recipes from

The Organic Banana Face Mask

  1. Mash one-half of a bananain a bowl.
  2. Mix in a tablespoon of orange juice and a tablespoon of honey.
  3. Apply the mask to your face (lumps are totally fine!) and keep the mixture on for 15 minutes.
  4. Rinse with lukewarm water and then moisturize.

The Breakfast Mask

  1. Combine one egg yolk,one tablespoon of honey, and one tablespoon of olive oil (yes, olive oil) with half a cup of oatmeal.
  2. Stir well, then apply it to your face for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Rinse with lukewarm water (make sure your drain is cool with oatmeal!) and then moisturize.

Finally, if you want an activity to test your creativity, try some food art. Look online for simple recipes that have an artistic twist such as Owl Oatmeal from Fork & Beans. If you don’t have all the ingredients, find substitutes or rearrange the art. It’s all up to you!




  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 c. milk of choice
  • 1 strawberry, sliced
  • almond slices
  • 3 banana slices
  • 2 dried blueberries
  • 1 almond


  1. Combine the oats and milk together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stirring often, simmer on low heat for 5 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed according to your preference.
  2. Assemble owl shape into a bowl of oatmeal and serve.

I hope everyone stays safe and healthy in the coming weeks! Please leave a comment if you tried any of these suggested activities and liked them!

Fruit – can I eat too much?


By Rini Jablonski, Healthy Aggies Intern

It is common to watch friends and family members try to “cut back on sugar”.  Awareness of implications associated with excess sugar consumption is increasing, and research from UC Davis has found links between dietary sugar and the development of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. You may have also heard the claim that “too much fruit is bad for you”. Fruits do contain high amounts of sugar, but there is a little more to this picture. Overall, there is no risk with consuming fruit, and knowing some key characteristics about both sugar and fruit will help you understand why:

  • What is sugar?

Sugar is a carbohydrate found in many types of foods. Sugars are important because a type of sugar called glucose is one of the main energy sources for the body, especially the brain. 1 gram of sugar is equivalent to 4 calories of energy.

  • Added versus Natural Sugars

There are different forms of naturally-occurring sugars that are present in fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. This is where an important distinction lies between say, for example, an apple and a chocolate chip cookie. While an apple is high in the naturally occurring sugar fructose, the cookie is high in added sugar. Added sugars are not naturally occurring and are often used to sweeten products and extend shelf life. The concern with added sugar is that in excess it is “empty calories”. This means you are consuming calories that are not associated with beneficial vitamins and minerals.

  • The Benefits of Consuming Fruit

Fruits contain vitamins and minerals that are needed for essential body functions. They are also high in fiber which supports healthy digestion and bowel movement.

  • Recommended amount of added Sugar

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that individuals limit added sugar consumption to 10% of their daily caloric intake. To put this into perspective, if you consume on average 2,000 calories a day then the recommendation would be to not consume more than 200 calories in added sugars. Since there are 4 calories per 1 gram of sugar, this would indicate that you should not exceed more than 50 grams per day in added sugars.

Takeaways: While fruits are relatively high in sugar, they are also high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Added sugars, sugars that are not naturally occurring in a food item, add calories without offering other beneficial nutrients. Because of this, the Dietary Guidelines recommends that you try to limit your consumption of added sugars. One thing to remember is that it is okay to enjoy things in moderation, so don’t completely cut yourself off from that little bit of dessert you love to eat after dinner!



3 Ways to Support Your Health During Coronavirus (COVID-19)


By Esther Garcia, UC Davis Healthy Aggies intern

There is no doubt that this pandemic has caught everyone off-guard. Courses are now online only, jobs have been lost, restaurants and grocery stores are closing early, and gyms are shuttered. No one knows how long this may last. Nonetheless, it is best to keep distance between us all in order to prevent exposure for ourselves and our loved ones.

Here are 4 ways to stay healthy while staying at home:

1. Keep a sanitized home environment
There might be times where you have to go out for an essential errand which can increase your chances of being exposed to COVID-19. You can prevent spreading more germs. Once you get home make sure to immediately wash your hands. Clean and disinfect ALL surfaces that you may have touched.

2. Stay Active
With all fitness facilities being closed, it may be difficult to keep up with workout routines. However, there are many ways to keep moving without any equipment such as:

● Searching up “No equipment workout” on the internet.
● Breaking out the resistance bands.
● Going on walks in your neighborhood.

3. Keep On Meal Prepping
Now that you are home more often, you may find yourself with extra time to think about cooking! When we cook at home, we typically eat more nutritious foods. Meal prepping for 2-3 days will help you avoid ordering take out or snacking. When you go to the grocery store keep these things in mind:

● Your body needs fruits and vegetables to help improve your immune system.
● Plan on a protein rich food at each meal – small amounts of meat, chicken, fish, egg, beans, nuts, seeds, lean dairy or tofu are great examples. Review Choose MyPlate.
● Make snack foods healthy; avoid tempting yourself by bringing home things you’d rather not over consume. Grab a bag of baby carrots, broccoli florets and hummus.
● Stay Hydrated. Pick up some citrus, or other fruit/vegetable, to create infused water for a change of pace.

Together we are strong.  This will pass and some of us will come out the other side with better habits.  Be one of them.

Boost your Immune System

immune system

By Marisa Morales, Nutrition Peer Counselor

A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. confirmed its first case of the coronavirus, seen in a Solano County resident being treated at the UC Davis Medical Center. The world first began seeing cases of this viral illness at the beginning of the new year. It initiated in China but has since made its way across the country and onto other continents. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent and nothing to treat this virus, but there are some foods one can eat to reduce the risk of becoming ill. Here is a list of key nutrients to help boost your immune system:

    • Vitamin A– promotes the integrity of epithelial cells and respiratory and intestinal mucus which act as a first line of defense against pathogens
      • Food sources: carrots, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, eggs, or fortified milks and cereals that are labeled “Vitamin A fortified”
    • Vitamin C– promotes epithelial integrity and is an antioxidant that can protect from oxidative stress
      • Food sources: oranges, strawberries, papayas, tomato juice, and grapefruit
    • Vitamin E– an antioxidant that protects the healthy fats (polyunsaturated fats) found in our cell’s membrane and neutralizes dangerous free radicals
      • Food sources: sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and vegetable oils
    • Selenium– plays an important role in inflammation and immunity
      • Food sources: brazil nuts, sardines, and garlic
    • Zinc– keeps the immune system strong and promotes wound healing
      • Food sources: lean meat, poultry, seafood, beans, and whole grains
    • Protein– provides energy and building blocks for the body to heal and recover from damage done by pathogens
      • Food sources: lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, and peas

Although nutrition is very important for your body’s health, I encourage everyone to take other precautions to reduce their risk of becoming infected. The following recommendations come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:

    • Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
      • If no soap or water is available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing, throw away tissues right away
    • Stay home if you feel ill
    • Disinfect frequently touched items

Be aware that face masks do not prevent one from getting sick! It is more important that face masks are worn by those who are experiencing symptoms of the virus to help keep it from spreading.

In case of quarantine, it can be helpful to stock up on 30 days of non-perishable items such as canned goods, granola bars, etc.



Make shopping for fruits and veggies easy!

grocery cart embroidery

By Ruth Vodonos, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Intern

Having to grocery shop can be stressful. You might walk in hungry just to buy everything that looks good, but then regret it later when you realize how unhealthy it is. I know I have personally gone shopping hungry only to buy myself mostly snacks and sweets, realizing a day later that I have not bought any food I can actually create a healthy meal with. You might even go grocery shopping with the intention of buying only healthy foods, only to find yourself hungry two days later when you’ve only bought salad type ingredients and you have already run out.

This is why creating a list of the food and beverages you need to buy so that you have a game plan once you enter the store can help you in reaching your health goals. Making a grocery list is a great way to make shopping quicker, easier, and ensure your meals have more fruits and veggies in them!

Choose MyPlate has an amazing free template of a grocery list that allows you to organize your list by different sections.


Focus on creating a list full of fruits and vegetables. Add in protein foods and grains (aim for whole grains!). Below are some ideas of fruits and vegetables to get you started on making your list! 🙂

Here are some ideas for fruits you can add to your list.  Use fresh, canned (without added sugar) or frozen varieties:

  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry
  • Cranberry
  • Date
  • Fig
  • Grape
  • Lemon
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Melon (cantaloupe/honeydew/watermelon)
  • Orange
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Plum
  • Pineapple
  • Pomegranate
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry

Here are some ideas for vegetables you can add to your list.  Fresh, frozen or canned all work:

  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Beet
  • Bell pepper
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Edamame
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushroom
  • Onion
  • Pea
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Tomato
  • Yam
  • Zucchini

What are some of your favorite ways to get enough fruits and vegetables each day?  Let us know in comments!

How Nutritious are popular plant-based burgers?


By:  Marisa Morales, Healthy Aggies Nutrition Peer Counselor

Veggie burger patties have been around for quite some time. They are generally consumed by those who choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Jumping ahead to the present, a new version of plant-based burgers has become a popular alternative for regular burgers. This version of plant-based patties tastes, smells, and looks similar to a meat-based patty which is why it is favored among many. The familiar “bleeding” seen in meat-based burgers, and now in plant-based burgers, is all thanks to the molecule “heme”. Although the idea of consuming a plant-based burger rather than a meat patty would appear to be a healthier alternative, the nutrition facts do not support this assumption.

Many people would like to believe that these meat-mimicking burgers are healthy (or healthier) for our bodies than regular burgers because they are entirely composed of plants. However, what most people do not understand is the amount of processing that must be done to achieve the almost-identical characteristics as an animal burger.

Although the Beyond Burger is made without GMOs, soy or gluten, the ingredient list is quite long: “Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color)”. The Impossible Burger is another popular plant-based burger with a lengthy ingredient list: “Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.”

The following shows us the comparison between the Beyond Burger, Impossible Burger, and a regular grass-fed beef burger:

Beyond Burger (4 oz. serving) Impossible Burger (4 oz. serving) Grass-fed beef burger (4 oz. serving)
Calories 250 240 224
Total fat 18 g 14 g 17 g
Saturated fat 6 g 8 g 6 g
Protein 20 g 19 g 21 g
Total carbs 3 g 9 g 0 g
Sodium 390 mg 370 mg 77 mg

Studies have shown that following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle reduces risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. To clarify, the participants in these studies did not eat plant-based meat. Instead, their diet consisted of lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The point I would like you all to take away from this post is the importance of reading food labels. Corporate marketing teams do a fantastic job at designing catchy phrases and pictures to promote their product. You may see a box of “salt-free” crackers or “sugar-free” doughnuts, but until you look at the ingredient list and nutrition facts you cannot be certain of what you are consuming. Sometimes, nutrients, such as salt or sugar, are extracted from food and replaced with something else for it to taste, look, and smell just like the original product. It is often the case that this “something else” is not much healthier. Take a look at your food labels at home, what you find may surprise you!