Thursday, September 18, 2008

Studying Makes Me Hungry

     Has anyone else noticed that since school started, they've been more hungry???

     I noticed this right around the time I read this article. Apparently, there is some preliminary research that suggests mental strain, while not burning any excess calories, might make us more hungry. 

     I can see why. We need energy for work. Food is energy, and mental tasks are definitely still work. But it just doesn't seem fair!

     I am at a job all day where I sit and stare at a computer screen. It actually makes me miss the days when I was a waitress!

     The best advice I can think of: take short walks during the day in which you give your mind a rest and your body some physical exertion. Exercise is also a good way to get energy without taking in any calories.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Exercising on a Time-Crunched Schedule

     According to my poll, some of you want to read about exercise and have trouble fitting it in to your schedule. I feel your pain.
     Between an assistantship, classes, clubs and time with friends and family, sometimes I wonder how I will fit exercise into my day. But I still manage to go to the gym at least 5 days a week. 
     How do I fit it in? Well, I'm that girl. I'm the one on the Stairmaster reading a text book. And I definitely did not have time to dress up before I went to the gym.
     It's true that reading on the machines doesn't bode well for a vigorous work-out. But, moderate workouts are beneficial too. They may not burn as many calories in the same amount of time, but they conserve energy, so you can work out longer. They might not have as many cardiovascular benefits, but it's better for your body than lying on the couch. I try to fit in a few vigorous workouts, but if I need to study, I see nothing wrong with slowing down and reading on the elliptical machine.
     And this type of exercising may have a side benefit as well. In one study I previously discussed, moderate exercisers didn't quit eat as many calories as vigorous exercises, despite burning the same amount at the gym.
     There are lots of tips out there about fitting exercise into your day, but they usually involve moves to do at the office, or advice like taking the stairs rather than the elevator. College students have different needs. We aren't stuck in the office. Let's take advantage of it while we can!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

100-Calorie Packs are Not the Answer

     Everyone's been talking about the 100-calorie packs and how great they are for dieters. Now that school is back in session, maybe you're in need of some quick snacks that you can buy on the go, and these mini-portions of junk food sound tempting.  After all, they're only 100 calories, right?
     Put aside the fact that the idea of snacks in small-portion packaging is anything but innovative. Before the days of "super-size," those were normal servings. Ignore the fact that most bags of chips and cookies should probably be that size.
     Ignore the environmental effects of the enormous amount of packaging that is being used.
     Then consider this. College Candy recently posted about healthy snacks, and while I generally agree with several of their suggestions, I take issue with their assumption that if you ate from a "real bag of Ruffles you'd end up eating way more," so you should eat from these 100-calorie packs.
     Research has found that's actually untrue, because "large packages triggered concern of overeating and conscious efforts to avoid doing so, while small packages were perceived as innocent pleasures, leaving the consumers unaware that they were overindulging." (ScienceDaily
     Some of the study participants had just been weighed and given body image surveys, so if they were prone to feeling bad about their weight, these feelings may have been even more pronounced. They may have felt like the other participants were watching them and judge for their consumption. I have felt that way, so I know others have as well.
     So, it's not true that you'll eat less if you eat from 100-calorie packs. But, there are more individual factors to consider. If you're not just watching calories, but trying to eat healthfully, remember that even eating a small amount of high-fat or sugary food will make your body crave more. It's the long run that matters. 100-calorie packs add up.

     But if you are one of those people who worries about digging into a big bag of chips in front of others, at least know that you are not alone. And if you're not trying to give up junk food, but feel hesitant to eat from a big bag, it might be a good, small goal to set for yourself. If you feel judgmental vibes, try to convince yourself that you're imagining it... because you ARE. 

     It may seem like I've contradicted myself, but I'm trying to recognize that the answer is not the same for everyone. If you're trying to become more healthy, these snacks aren't going to do it for you. If you're trying to lose weight and normally eat a whole bag at one sitting, maybe they're a good small step. And if you suffer from disordered eating, or just bad body image, maybe the real issue is you don't want to look like you're eating too much, and if that's true, it might be a good idea to think about the negative effects of that kind of mindset on your life. 

     Let me know what situation you fit!