Health Matters Newsletter

Health Center
LoGrasso Hall
SUNY Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
(716) 673-3131 or
(716) 673-3132
(716) 673-4722 (fax)

Stress and Body Image

College can be one of the most exciting times in your life, and it can be one of the most stressful. Stress is a fact of life, and the demands of college can leave you with feelings of being overwhelmed. It can negatively affect virtually every part of your life, including your relationships, your job and you health.  Changing how you handle your stress and the way you think about yourself and your life is essential to boosting your self esteem.

Change you attitude

  • Get perspective! Ask yourself, "How important will this seem in a week, month, year or twenty years. " Remember that it is not the event itself that is stressful, but the way in which your perception of the event is and what you do about it.
  • Be positive and don't put yourself down. Remember, nobody is perfect and luckily, you don't have to be.
  • Be flexible. Real life situations involve unexpected interruptions.

Take care of yourself

  • Balance physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.
  • Be sure to get enough sleep
  • Build a support system. Friends and family can be your strongest allies.
  • Take routine breaks from schoolwork. It will keep you more alert and productive.
  • Don't skip meals. Food provides energy to tackle stress
  • Live within your means. Overspending can be very stressful.
  • Listen to peaceful music to unwind.
  • Meditation and relaxation exercises. Relaxation Techniques can combat the stress response by helping the body return to a balanced state and reverse some of the psychological effects of stress response ( i.e.: elevated blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. Examples include and are not limited to breathing exercises, body awareness, meditation, visualization and guided relaxation.
  • Laugh! Go see a funny movie, a comedy show, or call up a silly friend.
  • Be here now. The single task (or pleasure!) before you is all that you need to focus on now.
  • Pamper yourself
  • Exercise. Daily exercise, including stretching, breathing and aerobic exercises is important lifestyle habits to develop for relief of anxiety and stress.

Manage your time

  • Use a daytimer to schedule all of your commitments and social events.
  • Make a daily "to do " list
  • Prioritize your duties
  • Be selective. You can't do everything. Quality is more important then quantity
  • Learn to take power naps. A 20 minute nap can reenergize you for hours.
  • Budget your time. Study while on the bus, review between classes, read while eating.
  • Don't be overcommitted. Learn to say "no"
  • Set aside some time to have fun.
  • Know your peak energy times and prioritize your activities when you know your energy is at its highest.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.

 

Ways to Feel Good About Your Body:

  • 1) When you find yourself being critical of your appearance, tell yourself to stop. It does no good to be unkind to yourself.
  • 2) Remind yourself of what you like about your appearance. This may take some time and practice.
  • 3) Break the habit of comparing yourself to others in terms of appearance.
  • 4) Don't criticize or comment on other people's weight or appearance
  • 5) Strive to value yourself for other strengths besides appearance; are you intelligent, witty, kind, a good listener, artistic, etc."
  • 6) Pay attention to the way the media influences your self-image, and stay away from media that causes you to feel badly about your body.
  • 7) Compliment others for things beside their physical appearance
  • 8) Focus on developing skills and ability that have nothing to do with appearance.

 

Did you know?

Balanced nutrition is essential to maintaining overall good health, but it also can affect your capacity to cope with stress.

During times of stress, the body needs more nutrients, particularly vitamin B, which affect the nervous system and calcium, which is needed to counteract the lactic acid your tense muscles produce.

 

How good nutrition can help when dealing with Stress

Eat a good breakfast.  Breakfast kick starts your metabolism.  It provides your brain and your body with the energy needed to feel good, cope with stress, and perform better in the classroom and on the athletic field.

Eat foods high in potassium, such as orange juice, squash, potatoes, apriocots, limes, banana, avocados, tomatoes, and peaches.  These foods are low in calorie and high in energy.

Eat foods that are high in calcium, which can be found in yogurt, cheese and tofu.  These foods will build up stores of calcium in your body to prevent osteoporosis in later life.

Drink lots of water.  Water is a very important nutrient that is often forgotten.  Your body needs at least eight glasses of water each day, and if you exercise, or play sports, you may need more.

A daily multivitamin can minimize the physical damage caused by stress.  Make sure that your daily vitamin includes 200 to 400 milligrams of magnesium, 10 to 100 milligrams of B complex vitamins and 500 to 3000 milligrams of vitamin C.  According to studies, magnesium blocks the damaging effects of adrenaline.

 

Food to Avoid when dealing with Stress

Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate) which causes nervousness and inhibits sleep if too much is ingested.

Avoid alcohol which depletes your body's B vitamins and can disrupt sleep and impair judgment or clarity of thought

Avoid sugar. It provides no essential nutrients and can cause an immediate "high" followed by a prolonged "low".

Welcome to the November 2008 issue of the Health Matters Newsletter.  The Health Matters Newsletter is published on a monthly basis on the Health Center home page, and is linked to the weekly Campus Report.  The purpose of the newsletter is to share information regarding pertinent medical issues with the students, faculty and staff here at SUNY Fredonia.  This month's topics include:

Eating Disorders

A Healthy Start

Exercise your way into a healthy you

  

Eating Disorders

Today, our culture is obsessed with physical appearance.  Through mass media marketing, societal and cultural norms, beauty is narrowly defined.     Americans spend billions of dollars trying to achieve an unrealistic ideal.  Both men and women are given the unspoken message that they should look like a model, but only one in 40,000 persons naturally have a model's body type.

Body image is defined as our personal view and interpretation of our body.  When you look in the mirror, how do you see yourself? Distorted body image and dieting are thought to contribute to eating disorders.  Learning to accept the body that you have, see through media messages, and to practice healthy lifestyle behaviors are keys to staying healthy.

People do not consciously choose to have an eating disorder.   An eating disorder is not due to a failure of willpower.  Rather, the maladaptive eating patterns begin to take on a life of their own.  Eating disorders are thought to be caused by many factors, such as family problems, history of abuse, distorted body image, perfectionist tendencies, and even biochemical imbalances.  The stress of college life, as well as the isolation some students feel after leaving home, are major contributing factors to this problem.

Research shows that eating disorders among college students continue to be on the rise.  The National Institute of Mental Health reports that "10 percent of college-age women have a clinical or near clinical eating disorder."

It is also important to note that eating disorders are also on the rise among men.  More males are thought to suffer in silence than females because eating problems are often not talked about among men. 

The earlier that an eating disorder is diagnosed and treated, the more likely will be that the student will recover completely.  Students often hide their symptoms, and many are not aware that there is a problem with what they are doing. Unfortunately, many students do not receive treatment for their eating disorders until their illness is at an advanced stage, and they are suffering from a serious medical condition.

Eating disorders can damage almost every organ system or body part.   It can cause decrease in function or permanent damage to the brain, the liver, the kidney, heart, GI tract, bones, teeth, skin and hair.   Eating disorders can retard growth, cause early onset of osteoporosis, and may even cause heart failure.  Ultimately, a severe eating disorder can lead to death.

Types of eating disorders common among college students

Anorexia

Bulimia

Binge eating

 

Anorexia

Students suffering from anorexia take extreme measures to avoid eating.  They are often abnormally thin and because of a distorted body image continue to diet believing that they are fat or bloated.  They are preoccupied with food, cooking, nutrition and the number of calories in each meal.  These students may exercise obsessively, well beyond what is needed to maintain good health. 

Signs of anorexia

-An intense drive for thinness

-Refusal to maintain a minimal normal weight

-Fear of becoming fat

-Distorted body image

-Denying feelings of hunger

-Avoiding situations where food is involved

-Developing rituals around preparing food and eating

-Obsession with dieting

-Social withdrawal

-Pronounced emotional changes, such as irritability, depression and anxiety.

 Physical signs of anorexia

-Thinning hair

-Dry, flaky skin

-Cracked or broken nail

-No menstruating

 

Bulimia

College students who suffer from bulimia typically "binge and purge".  A binge is the consumption of a large amount of food over a short period of time.   Purging is forced vomiting.   These students may also use such tactics as excessive exercise, use of laxatives or diet pills to rid themselves of the food in which they have consumed.  These student often hide there affliction because they usually maintain a normal body weight.   Students with bulimia are extremely concerned with their body weight and shape, and often have a distorted image of their body.   They may create complex schedules to make time for binging and purging.  They are often socially withdrawn, depressed, severely self critical and obsessed with weight loss and controlling what they eat.

Signs of bulimia

-Eating unusually large amounts of food with no apparent change in weight

-Hiding food

-The frequent presence of a large number of food containers and wrappers

-The frequent smell of vomit

-Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals

-Excessive use of diuretics

-Going to the kitchen frequently when everyone is sleeping

-Excessive, rigid exercise

Physical signs of bulimia

-Swollen glands

-Staining or deterioration of teeth

-Calluses on the hands caused from self-inducing vomiting

-Broken blood vessels around the eyes

-Stomach pain

-Weakness or fatigue

-A woman with bulimia often stops menstruating

 

Binge-Eating Disorders

Binge-eating disorder is characterized by uncontrollable, excessive eating, followed by feelings of shame and guilt.  Unlike those with bulimia, the student with a binge-eating disorder typically does not purge their food.   These students are typically overweight or obese.  They feel like they have no control over their behavior, and eat in secret.  They often feel shame and remorse over their behavior, and have a tendency to hide food, empty food containers, wrappers and other evidence of binging

Signs of Binge-Eating

-Eating in secret

-"Grazing" continuously without feeling satisfied

-Eating when stressed or when feeling uncertain how to cope

-Feeling unable to control how much they eat

-Experimenting with different diets

 

A Healthy Start

Healthy eating is a lifetime commitment.  And for most of us, healthy eating comes with a huge lifestyle change. Some pitfalls of dieting include:

- Skipping meals. By Skipping meals during the day, you increase your chances of overeating later in the day because of low blood sugar.

- Snacking while studying or working at our desks.  Munching on high calorie snacks like chocolate bars, chips, and peanut butter laced crackers does not help the waistline.

- Late Nights. Staying up late, means extra waking hours, and possible more snacking. 

- Take out/order in food.  Pizza, wings, subs, etc are high in calories.

- Vending machines. They might be good for a quick pick me up or a last minute meal, but these machines are filled with high calorie, high fat insults to the body.

- Lack of exercise.  Most adults consider exercise to be very low on the list of things to do during a busy semester.  Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain.

- Increased alcohol intake. Alcoholic beverages contain hidden calories.  The average beer or glass of wine contains 150 calories that tend to be stored as body fat.


Goals of nutrition are to attain adequate intake of sufficient levels of essential dietary nutrients while maintaining a balance between energy intake and physical activity.  A healthy weight for adults of both genders and all age groups is a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.

In order to understand all there is to know about dieting, we must first understand all there is to know about nutrition.  To stay healthy, avoid disease, and prevent weight gain,  it is recommended to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products.

Guidelines for Eating Healthfully

- Eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day.  This averages out to eating approximately every three hours. You should never allow yourself to get too hungry because this will cause a drop in blood sugar which can lead to binging.  Healthy snacks, which combine protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, weighing in at 100 calories each are good for between meals.

- Become a label reader.  Aim for a diet of 40% carbohydrates including whole grains and fruit, 30% lean protein including chicken breasts and turkey and 30% healthy fats such as olive oil.  Eliminate trans fat and saturated fats from your diet.  You will not only loose weight, but it will be better for your heart.

-Fats.  
Saturated Fats: Get less than 10% of calories each day from saturated fats and less than 300mg per day  of cholesterol. Keep amount of trans fat (hydrogenated oils) you eat as low as possible

Total fat intake:  Keep your total fat intake between 20% and 35% of your calories with most fats coming from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oils found in fish, nuts, and olive, canola, and other vegetable oils.

When choosing meats, poultry, and milk products, choose lean, low fat or nonfat. Remove the skin on  poultry before cooking or eating it.  Bake or broil meat instead of frying.

Limit your intake of fats and oils high in saturated and trans fatty acids, and choose products low in such fats and oils.

-Choose healthy carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates provide energy.  For weight loss, switch to whole grains such as wheat bread, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.  Eat three or more ounce equivalents of whole grain per day. Eliminate refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flours.

-Dairy.  Have three cups of nonfat or low fat milk or equivalent milk products per day. (Equivalents are for 1 cup; 1 cup low fat yogurt, 1 1/2 ox of low fat or nonfat cheese, 2 oz of low fat or nonfat processed cheese)

-Alcohol.  Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. Alcohol is high in calories.

-Practice portion control. A serving of protein should be about the size of the palm of  your hand, and a serving of carbohydrates is no larger then your fist.  

-Eliminate sugary drinks and fruit juices.  Switch to diet sodas and water.  You should drink eight, eight ounce glasses of water each day.

-Eat fish three times a week.  Deep water fish contains omega-3. Studies have shown that omega-3 will aid in protecting you from heart disease

-Carry healthy snacks with you.  Almonds, walnuts, and low fat yogurt are good choices to have on hand to stave off candy and cookie temptation.  Apple slices with peanut butter or low fat string cheese are also good choices.

-Allow yourself a treat. You can't enter into a lifestyle change knowing that you will never have another piece of pie or cake again.  It is natural to splurge now and then, just don't use it as an excuse to binge.


Exercise your way into a healthy you

Activity is also an important part of the picture.  The guidelines suggest a minimum of 30 minutes of activity per day to reduce disease risk, and 60 to 90 minutes per day to lose weight.  People who are usually inactive can improve their health and well-being by becoming even moderately active on a regular basis.  A moderate amount of physical activity is roughly equivalent to physical activity that uses approximately 150 calories of energy per day or 1000 calories per week.  Physical activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits. To avoid soreness and injury, individuals contemplating an increase in physical activity should start slowly and gradually build up to the desired amount to give the body time to adjust. Those with chronic health problems, should consult their physician prior to engaging in any new activities.

Walking for fitness: How to trim your waistline,
boost your spirits and improve your health.

Walking is a gentle, low-impact exercise that can ease you into a higher level of fitness and health.  It's one of your body's most natural forms of exercise.  It's safe, simple and doesn't require a lot of practice, and the health benefits are many.  Here's what you need to know to get started.

Benefits of walking

-Walking for fitness can help  you achieve a number of important health benefits.  For example you can:

-Reduce your risk for heart attack. Walking keeps your heart healthy by lowering low density lipoprotein (LDL)  cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).  A regular walking program also reduces your risk of developing high blood pressure, a factor that contributes to heart disease.

-Manage your blood pressure. If you already have a high blood pressure, walking can help reduce it.

-Reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you're female, overweight and at a high risk of diabetes, walking can improve your body's ability to process sugar (glucose intolerance)

-Manage your diabetes.  If you already have type 2 diabetes, taking part in a regular waking program can improve your body's ability to process sugar, lower your blood sugar, reduce your risk of heart disease and help you live longer.

-Manage  your weight.  Walking burns calories, which can help you manage your weight.  For example, middle-aged women who walk more then 10, 000 steps a day, have lower levels of body fat than do women who are less active.

-Manage stress and boost your spirits.  Going for a brisk walk is a great way to reduce stress.  Regular walking also can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.

Prepare yourself before each walking session


-Take time to prepare yourself to prevent injuries, such as blisters on your feet or muscle pain.

-Wear walking shoes and comfortable, protective clothing. Before you set out, be sure to select comfortable footwear.  Also dress in loose-fitting comfortable clothing and in layers if you need to adjust to the temperature.  If you walk outside, choose clothes appropriate for the weather.  Avoid rubberized materials, as they don't allow perspiration to evaporate. Wear bright colors or reflective tape after dark so that motorists can see you.

-Warm Up. Spend about five minutes walking slowly to warm your muscles. You can walk in place if you want.  Increase your pace until you feel warm.  Warming up your muscles reduces your risk of injury.

-Stretch. After warming up, stretch your muscles for about five minutes before walking. Include the calf stretch, quadriceps stretch, hamstring stretch, lower back flexion stretch and chest stretch.


Tips for Pedestrians


-Only cross the street at a crosswalk

-Pay careful attention to road signs and cars around you.  Don't assume that cars will stop when they should .

-Follow traffic signals, and don't cross the street unless the sign says "walk".

-If walking at night, wear bright, reflective clothing, and be sure not to walk alone.

Getting started: Design a program that works for you


-Start slow and easy. If you're a seasoned walker, keep doing what you're doing. If you've been inactive and tire easily, it's best to start slow and easy.  At first, walk only as far as or as fast as you comfortably can.  If you can walk for only a few minutes, let that be your starting point.  For example, you might try short daily sessions of three to five minutes slowly build up to 15 minutes twice a week.  Then, over several weeks' time,  you can gradually work your way up to 20 minutes of walking five days each week.

-Use proper technique to avoid injury and setback.  Walking is a great exercise because it's so simple to do.  But if your posture is poor or your movements exaggerated, you increase your risk of injury.

-Measure the intensity of your workout. As you walk, measure the intensity of your workout. Knowing the level allows you to increase the intensity to maximize your workout or slow down to avoid overdoing it.  You have these options:

Talk test. If you are so out of breath that you can't carry on a conversation with the person you are walking with , you are probably working too hard and should slow down.

Borg Scale.  This method is a self-assessment of your perceived exertion.  You rate how hard you think you are working on a scale that ranges from six (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort).  Aim for at least moderate intensity (12 to 14) as you walk.

Calculate your heart rate (pulse).  To find out if you're exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop exercising to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or your neck (carotid artery).  Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate.

-Keep track of your progress.  Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration.  Just think how good you will feel when you see how many miles you have walked each week, month or year.

-Cool down after each walking session.  To reduce stress on your heart and muscles, end each walking session by walking slowly for about five minutes. Then, repeat your stretches.

-Stay Motivated: Set goals, have fun and stay in the game
Starting a walking program takes initiative.  Sticking with it takes commitment.  But when you think of the potential health benefits, it's well worth the effort.  Over time, you'll likely feel more invigorated.  To stay motivated:

-Set performance goals. People who can stick with a new behavior for six months usually make it a habit.

-Make it fun. If you don't like walking alone, invite your spouse, partner, friend or neighbor to join you.  You might also join a health club and use a treadmill.

-Vary your routine. Plan several different walking routes for variety.  But if you're walking alone, be sure to tell someone which route you're taking.  Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car a few blocks from the office or store and walk the rest of the way.  If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two early and walk the remaining few blocks. 
 


Page modified 11/18/08