Health

Healthy Summer Snacks

Summer is finally here and with the bright sunshine and rising temperatures come the numerous invites to summer barbecues and parties. You can still enjoy these events without sacrificing your healthy eating habits! Swap out a few of the traditional summer snacks for these healthier alternatives.

fruit salad1.Fruit salad
Most berries are in season during the summer so take advantage of this and try a fruit salad. They’re super quick and easy to make and are sweet without the worry of artificial flavors and sweeteners. Simply slice up your favorite fruit and mix them together in a large bowl. Popular options are star fruit, kiwi, watermelon, mango, and strawberries.

 

turkey burger2.Turkey burgers
You can’t have a summer barbecue without a grilled burger. Try swapping out the traditional beef patty for a lower fat but equally satisfying turkey burger.

 

frozen greek yogurt

 

3. Frozen Greek yogurt
Trade your ice cream for frozen greek yogurt to have the same taste with much less fat.

 

 

 

 

green tea

4. Iced Tea
Iced teas are a great alternative to sugary drinks. Try green tea with a sprig of mint for freshness or honey for a sweeter drink.

 

 

 

 

angel food cake

 

5. Angel food cake
Between birthdays, graduation parties, and Independence Day, there’s bound to be a situation where desserts are a must. Angel food cake is a healthier alternative to most cakes because it has a very low fat content but still tastes great.

 

 

What are some of your favorite swaps to maintain healthy eating habits? Let us know in the comments below!

Three Small Steps to Daily Inspiration in 2014

The New Year is here and everyone is buzzing about how they plan to be the best they can be in 2014.  The general weight loss and health posts are flooding your news feed and you may even be part of the movement. Instead, I have laid out small, achievable steps to inspire myself each day.  If any of these small steps to daily inspiration sound like they could be beneficial to you in 2014, I hope that you will join me.Enjoying the sun

1. Find time each day to either reflect on or write out one thing in your life that makes you happy.  Even with 365 days in a year I believe this will be achievable.  It can be as simple as having a roof over your head.  I prefer to write out my thoughts so I have purchased a notebook just for this purpose.  If I am having a bad day, week or month I plan on flipping through it and reminding myself of all the happiness in my life.

2. Compliment someone in your life every day, whether it is a coworker, a family member, your significant other or a complete stranger.  Recognizing valuable qualities and the good work of other individuals is both humbling and inspiring in itself.  This small step will only reach its full potential in my eyes if I am truly genuine in my compliments to others.  I will not just compliment someone for the sake of doing it. 

 3. Stop talking badly about others. Just stop. There are many times in my life I find myself gossiping for the sake of gossiping.  If my discussion of another person is not something I would feel comfortable saying directly to them, I think it is best kept to myself.  Happy people do not need to address others shortcomings to feel better about themselves.  For any negative thought I have about another person I hope to address an area I can improve upon in my own life and switch the conversation.

The Reality of Texting and Driving

texting-while-drivingIn 2011, the Center for Disease Control reported that over 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. Distracted driving includes activities such as texting or eating while driving, and can double your chances of getting in an accident. Is a text message really worth your life?

I’ll admit it; I’ve sent text messages while driving. I’ve made phone calls, too. But there comes a point where you have to decide if that text or call is really worth your life or someone else’s. Most would agree that drinking and driving is selfish. However, the reality is that texting and driving is just as bad. Nothing is so important that you can’t wait until you’re at your destination. If it is something urgent, pull over somewhere safe and then send the text.

My home state of Illinois, like many, has a ban on texting and driving. If a police officer sees you texting, he or she can pull you over for it. In Illinois, you will receive a $75 fine for texting and driving. Compared to many states this is generous. In Alaska, the fine is $10,000, the highest of all the states.

Arizona, Montana, South Dakota and South Carolina currently have no bans or penalties for texting and driving, which will likely change soon.

While texting or talking on a cell phone while driving isn’t illegal, the Department of Transportation has been diligently working to fight the issue of distracted driving for some time now. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a pledge to end distracted driving that everyone should take. Action starts with you. As a passenger in a vehicle, you can encourage the driver to put their phone down.

Distracted driving has become a major problem in this country. The main point that everyone needs to remember is that distracted driving does kill. Next time you get behind the wheel, put the phone down until you get to where you’re going. It’s really not worth it.

Obamacare: What You Need to Know

obamacare, obama health care, government health careObamacare. We’ve all heard this term thrown around on the news and in our Political Science classes. But if you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’re a bit confused about what Obamacare actually is, and how it affects you as a student.

What is Obamacare? The official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Basically, the act requires that all Americans have health insurance by 2014 or be subject to a tax that will provide them with coverage. The goal of the act is to reform the American healthcare system and allow more individuals (many who previously have been turned away by insurance companies due to preexisting conditions) to access affordable healthcare.

Potential Pros of Obamacare:

  • Parents can now keep their children on their healthcare plans until the age of 26.
  • Individuals with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied healthcare. This change went into effect for children in 2010 and will go into effect for adults in 2014.
  • Insurance companies can no longer drop individuals who become sick.
  • Insurance companies are required to justify their reasoning for raising prices (otherwise known as “rate hikes”).

Potential Cons of Obamacare:

  • Starting in 2014, if you have not yet purchased healthcare, you will be taxed as much as 1% of your income to pay for healthcare services.
  • Some individuals and businesses could be forced to pay higher taxes.
  • 3-5 million people in the US could lose their company sponsored health insurance because their employers may find it more financially beneficial to pay a penalty for not offering insurance and allow their employees to buy coverage on their own.

Additional important (and often unknown) facts:

  • People without insurance can shop for a plan that meets their healthcare needs on different healthcare exchanges. These exchanges will provide individuals with information that will allow them to become educated about whether or not they qualify for tax credits, and will also allow them to compare plans before purchasing.
  • This plan has been in the works for decades and was an act created and developed by members of both political parties.
  • Insurance will now be provided to two groups who previously were uninsured: young people and people who chose to forgo preventative care and instead used hospital emergency rooms once their illnesses became severe. Insuring these individuals will save money in two ways: young people will be paying a premium but are traditionally healthier and therefore use healthcare services less, and ER users will now be treated before their illnesses reach expensive ER severity.

As college students that will soon be stepping out into the real world with real responsibilities, it is important that we stay informed about what is going on in the world around us. We love to hear your questions and comments about these topics so feel free to write to us in the comments section below!

Fighting the Freshman Flu

There are several universally accepted facts that apply to colleges all around the world. One that I recently experienced is the unfortunate truth that college dorms are huge breeding grounds for sicknesses. Whether it’s the dirty slob down the hall, or the fact that everyone is cramped into the same tiny space using the same showers, SOMETHING about college dorms spreads illnesses like wildfire.

…not that kind of sick. Last year, my dorm hall was a very old, tiny building meant only for freshmen. Normally, I have a pretty good immune system. However, last year, I was forced to recover from two sinus infections, one case of strep throat, and about seven colds. The problem that I encountered was that if one person on the floor came down with some form of sickness, everyone else was soon to follow. Over the course of the year, I learned a few things to help stave off the impending illnesses of college.

Eat Healthy.
Almost every single day, the dining hall will serve some form of greasy, meaty, occasionally delicious food. I soon learned that if I also made myself a salad, or ate a piece of fruit with each meal, I started feeling better as a whole. Your immune system is programmed to fight off bugs, but if you don’t supply it with the necessary vitamins than it will not function properly.

Good Habbits.
My university’s health services has medicines ready at all times to treat students with sinus infections, as they apparently are a very common occurrence here. The problem is that dorms, especially smaller ones, don’t have very good air circulation. So as the year goes on, dust accumulates in corners and crevices, and it tends to stay around. A great way to keep your sinuses clean and healthy is to start using saline spray. It’s cheap, you can get them anywhere, and they mostly only consist of salt and water. Using a saline spray once a day, or once every other day, cleans out sinuses and keeps them open.

Drink Water.
You’d be amazed by all the positive effects of drinking several cups of water daily. It helps keep you hydrated and it can also help flush out unwanted illnesses. Your body needs it to function, so don’t forget to stay hydrated.

Clean.
For the love of all that is holy, take out the trash.

Hopefully you’ll take some of this advice to heart, and do yourself a favor when the next semester starts up. School is hard enough without the added difficulty of fighting off a cold or the flu. Do you have any health tips I forgot?