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:
A Healthy Start
Exercise your way into a healthy you
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
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
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
-Pronounced emotional changes, such as irritability, depression and anxiety.
Physical signs of anorexia
-Dry, flaky skin
-Cracked or broken nail
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
-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
-Staining or deterioration of teeth
-Calluses on the hands caused from self-inducing vomiting
-Broken blood vessels around the eyes
-Weakness or fatigue
-A woman with bulimia often stops menstruating
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
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.
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
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
-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
-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.