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March 29, 2017

The Spring Break Health Initiative

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All right, Cornellians, it’s about that time — we only have to make it through a couple more days until Spring Break. For me, that means going back home to cornfields and sweet tea with enough sugar to fill a small swimming pool. But I know for a lot of you that means tropical locations and breaking out the dusty swimsuit you thought you would have an opportunity to wear earlier until you realized that Ithaca doesn’t know the appropriate weather patterns for Spring.

As the days leading up to break have been crossed off, I have noticed that Teagle has been a little more crowded than usual, and the salad bar has been getting some extra attention. These recent phenomena are warming the hearts of nutrition majors all over campus. However, I think it’s important to go over some nutrition do’s and don’ts while preparing for that tropical getaway — or even if you’re just going home where Mama doesn’t care what your major is and you better eat everything she makes for you. This advice is for everyone  — girls and guys — because everyone wants to look and feel good for Spring Break.

DO Eat more fruits and vegetables. These will increase your fiber and micronutrient intake while decreasing your sugar, fat and calorie consumption, which helps improve your metabolism and immune system and reduces unhealthy weight gain.

DON’T Replace all of your meals with juice leading up to the day your plane takes off. No matter what Adriana Lima says, there are many things that are wrong with taking this approach, including lack of fiber, calorie deficiency and risk of being hungry due to insulin spikes from all the sugar juice contains.

DO Avoid eating tons of sugary or salty snacks. I love binge eating salt ’n’ vinegar chips just as much as anyone, but a diet consisting of only those and Little Debbie Cakes are just not going to help you stay healthy, no matter how much your taste buds thank you for it. Lots of sugar makes you feel energized temporarily, but then you’ll experience the “sugar crash,” and too much salt will leave you feeling bloated.

DON’T Skip meals. Three balanced meals a day and a couple of snacks (or six smaller meals if you’re one of those people with a whole lot of self control) is the best way to provide your body with the energy and nutrients that it needs to function properly.

DO Monitor your progress by seeing how your clothes fit and how your body feels. As you become healthier, clothes will become more comfortable, you’ll have more energy and you won’t have stomach aches from eating prepared foods from 7-11.

DON’T Weigh yourself every day. Your body goes through daily changes (water, hormones, etc.) that cause weight to fluctuate. Weighing yourself constantly will make you feel as if you’ve made no progress even though you have. Plus, scales don’t measure body composition — they don’t know that you’re making gains in the now overcrowded Teagle.

DO Monitor your portions. While many people (me) think that the whole family-size bag of chips is one serving, it’s not. Watching how much you eat will help you reduce the amount of unnecessary calories in your everyday diet.

DON’T Deprive yourself. A serving of French fries every once in awhile isn’t going to push you back at all. If you want a chocolate chip cookie, please eat it — just don’t eat 13 of them. Restricting yourself that much usually leads to binge eating, and then you will have a setback in your progress. Plus, the guilt is so not worth the pleasure that soft cookies with melted chocolate chips bring (oh wait, maybe it is).

No matter what, getting ready for Spring Break is all about being healthy and feeling good in your own skin. Any time you choose an apple over a donut is progress even if you don’t see an immediate change when you look in the mirror. Believe me, I’m a victim of doing seven crunches every couple of weeks and then wondering where my abs are, but this is a journey that lasts much longer than the week leading up to break. Wherever you’re at on your path to health, rock that swimsuit as you sip some exotic beverage out of a whole fruit (oh look, getting those servings of fruit even on vacation) or those sweatpants as you watch the whole series of The Office in one day.