Increase Your Energy by Eating!


With finals upon us and the daylight shortening, we can all admit that we feel our energy levels lagging a bit. Instead of drinking large amounts of coffee, energy drinks, or soda, try adjusting your eating habits to give yourself a more natural boost.

  1. Wean yourself off of the caffeinated beverages. Many of these drinks have a high sugar content. You will feel peppy for about an hour, then crash. Instead, opt for water, naturally sweetened fruit juices, unsweet or lightly sweetened tea, and low-fat milk.
  2. Eat more often, but lightly. Cut down on portion sizes, and eat meals or snacks every 3-4 hours. If your stomach isn’t growling after 5 or 6 hours without eating, your portions are too large for a single setting, and can lead to you feeling sluggish. Snacks should not be considered “mini-meals” but rather a small bridge to tide you over and keep cravings at bay until the next meal.
  3. It’s all about balance. A well-balanced meal should include lean protein, whole grains, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and a small amount of healthy fats. Snacks should consist of a carb and protein combo. Some examples of meals and snacks are listed below.

By following these three simple tips, you will be on your way to feeling lively and energetic in no time! Happy Painting!

Remember, these are just examples. Feel free to try your own combinations.


Lean Protein: Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Lean cuts of Beef and Pork

Whole Grains: Whole Grain Bread, Whole Grain Pasta, Brown Rice

Healthy Fats: Natural Nut Butters, Avocado, Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Carb/Fiber: Fruit, Vegetables, Whole Grain Crackers, Whole Grain Bread

Protein: Nuts, Natural Nut Butter, Hummus, Low-Fat Dairy, Hard-Boiled Egg, Sliced Deli Meat

Study Workout


We have reached the daily grind of classes, homework, repeat. I am sure that the homework load is starting to pick up for you, and that means a lot of your time will be spent studying. If you are like me, I get antsy when I have to sit for prolonged periods of time. While health is extremely important, good grades are necessary to successfully complete school. This means you occasionally have to sacrafice a night at the gym for a night with your nose in a textbook. I have combined some scientific-backed study tips with some simple exercises that can be completed with minimum equipment and limited space (like a dorm room). This way, you can have the best of both worlds!

Focus for 45

Giving your homework your undivided attention for forty-five minutes has been shown to be optimal; any longer and your mind will start to wander off. Avoid crowded places, excessive noise, and other technology to stay focused. You can set a timer to go off after forty-five minutes to prevent you from continuously checking the time on your phone.

Allow for 15 Minute Breaks

Go to the restroom, grab a (healthy) snack, play a song for motivation, and most importantly…exercise! Here is a list of simple exercises you can do. You can mix and match and create your own specialized workout to meet your fitness level.

The Dorm Room Workout

Cardio:               Jumping Jacks

Jump Rope

Stair Climbing

Upper Body:               Elevated Push-Ups   (push off the edge of your desk)

Tricep Dips off Desk Chair

Water Bottle Bicep Curls

Textbook Shoulder Raises

Legs/Glutes:               Seated Leg Extension

Calf Raises

Chair Step-Ups

Side Leg Lifts



Glute Squeeze

Abdominals:               Contract/Relax


Seated Leg Raises


Some of these moves can even be done while studying, so long as it doesn’t steal from your focus. Be safe and know your limitations. After you’ve repeated the study/break cycle as long as needed and have finished your homework and workout, stretch, shower, and get a good night’s rest to store the newly learned information to memory. Best of Luck and Happy Painting!

Healthy Baking Substitutions


Perhaps it’s the crisp fall air, or the smell of pumpkin spice near every coffee shop, or maybe even the changing colors of nature, but something about this time of year really makes me want to start baking like Betty Crocker. It’s an inevitable urge that comes mid-October and lasts throughout the holidays, where I scour the internet and browse through cookbooks to find the perfect recipes to recreate in the kitchen. However, those of us with a health-conscious mind tend to turn our nose up to products that are loaded with fats, oils, and sugars, which most baked goods contain. Luckily, there are some figure-friendly foods that can replace these ingredients and make for a healthier dessert and a happier chef.

For 1 cup Butter or Oil

1 cup pureed avocado

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

3/4 cup mashed banana

1/2 cup applesauce (in addition to keeping 1/2 c. butter or oil)

3/4 cup prunes- pureed with 1/4 cup hot water

For 1 cup Sugar

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup raw honey

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

6 dates or prunes; soaked, drained, and pureed

For 1 cup All Purpose Flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup white or black beans, drained, rinsed, and pureed


I would not recommend changing more than two elements in a recipe at a time; otherwise changes in cooking methods may need to be taken into consideration as well. These ingredient replacements may slightly offset the taste or texture, but nothing will tremendously change, and some may not even be noticeable! They will also reduce the percentage of empty calories in the recipe and add important nutrients such as vitamins and protein. Personally, I have swapped out canola oil once for Greek yogurt and once for applesauce in a banana bread recipe, and both options turned out well. Discovering these other substitution suggestions has given me plenty of inspiration to experiment!

If you share an interest in baking, let us know what modifications you make to your recipes to make them more healthful. If you have never tried editing a recipe, feel free to explore over the holidays with your friends and family. Happy Painting!



Candy Cravings


Halloween is creeping up on us again. When you go to the grocery store, everywhere you turn will be a stand of assorted candy…sold in bulk! If you’re like me, I develop a huge sweet tooth during this time of year that goes perfectly with the added emphasis on treats. Don’t deny yourself something sweet, just remember that moderation is key. To satisfy those stronger candy cravings, when “you can’t have just one,” I have come up with some healthier alternatives:

  • Honey-Roasted or Cocoa-Dusted Nuts/Almonds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Animal Crackers
  • Granola Bars
  • Trail Mix
  • Low-Fat Pudding
  • Sugar-Free Jello Cups
  • Sugar-Free Gum
  • Fresh, Dried, or Frozen Fruit
  • Fruit Snacks or Mini Juice Boxes (made with 100% fruit)

Enjoy! Have a great Halloween, and Happy Painting!

Be Choosy in the Dining Halls


The Painted Plate would like to welcome new and returning students to Murray State! We are here to encourage healthy living to all Racers. Many students worry about options at the cafeterias on campus. MyPlate has created some tips to stay healthy in the dining halls:

Know what you’re eating.

Quite a few dishes from MSU’s menus are already posted either online or on-site. Look ahead so you can plan to eat healthy once you get there., SuperTracker, and My Fitness Pal are great references and tools to help you keep track.

Enjoy your food, but eat less.

 Richer foods may taste great, but typically have more calories. Use smaller plates and smaller portions to prevent overeating.

Make half your grains whole grains.

Healthy swaps include whole grain bread or pasta instead of white, and oats instead of more refined grains.

Re-think your drink.

Americans drink an average of 400 calories per day! These are empty calories, meaning they don’t provide any nourishment. Choose water, milk, unsweetened tea, and black coffee over sodas, sweet tea, sports drinks, and sugary, creamy coffee.

Make half your plate fruits and veggies.

Fruits and veggies fill you up without contributing many calories. They also add color, nutrients, and flavors to your dishes.

Make it your own.

You don’t have to eat strictly according to the menu. Feel free to mix and match! You could add protein from the hotline to a salad, or slice some fresh fruit to add to your yogurt.

Slow down on the sauces.

Dressings, gravies, and sauces are added calories and often are high in fat. Cut down on the amount you use or try adding flavor with spices and seasonings instead.

Be on your guard at the salad bar.

Just because something is from the salad bar doesn’t make it healthy. Some ingredients to look out for are bacon bits, croutons, fried noodles, olives, and some dressings. All of these contain high amounts of fat and sodium. Choose low-fat or fat-free dressings and fresh veggies to add variety and color.

Make dessert special.

Allow yourself dessert only once or twice a week, or only on special occasions so you don’t overdo it. If your sweet tooth is calling, satisfy it with some fresh fruit or yogurt.

Don’t linger.

Once you and your group have finished eating, don’t stay for an extended period of time. You may be tempted to eat more. Make a suggestion to go somewhere else to socialize, like a study lounge, library, or the wellness center.

Hopefully these tips will help you get by in the dining halls this semester. Happy Painting!

Make Summer 2014 Unforgettable!!


Summer is the best time of the year for college students. You are done with another challenging school year and are dying to jump in any kind of body of water. People start their summer jobs and don’t have the stress of classes bearing on their shoulders. Summer is underway, and we all want a nice, positive, memorable break away from the books. Whether you will be hitting the beach or making some summer dough, here are some easy steps and tips to keep your summer break healthy and fun!

One tip is to take in a lot of fresh foods. Summer is the ideal time for a lot of produce, and fresh cuts of meat to be at their best quality. Seafood, fruits, and vegetables and all great summer foods that will not only be delicious, but boost your metabolism as well. Grilling out with seafood, vegetables, and other meats is a great way to get the whole family together to eat dinner, and ensure that everyone is getting necessary nutrients. Mixed berries are also ideal to have in the summer. WebMD’s article, “8 Summer Steps for Healthy Living,” says having a cup of mixed fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc.) daily will help you load up on antioxidants, and even help keep your cholesterol down.

Another great summer tip is to keep yourself hydrated. It can get crazy hot in late summer, and when you’re out and about, you want to make sure your body is not getting dehydrated. Dehydration is not fun to deal with, and if you want to keep active this summer you better keep a water bottle full of water with you wherever you go.

Though you need to really stay hydrated, you also need to keep getting some good exercise. Exercising, and staying active is important at any time of year, but summer is one of the best seasons to exercise. When it starts getting too hot, you will have to strategize your running or walking time frame to make sure you won’t be exposed to too much heat. Running or walking in the mornings or at night are the best times when it starts breaking into the 90s. As I said before, when you are out and about you have to ensure you get enough water, especially when you are exercising regularly.

Applying sunscreen when you go outside during the summer is probably the most common, yet most important, tip of being smart in the summer heat. The skin is the largest organ, and when it is severely damaged the whole body can suffer because of it. This is also very important to do when you are on vacation. When you are on a body of water, or lying beside it, the water is attracting more sun. This means you will need more sunscreen to protect your skin from the bad UV rays. Tanning will still happen over time, but avoid the dreaded sunburn.

Summer is my favorite time of year, and I know others feel the exact same way. Summer is the time to let loose, relax, and recover from the school year. Let your body relax and recover and be smart for summer 2014! Using these tips will make sure your summer is perfection! Happy Summer!!! 

On a Carb Fad!


Are carbs good or bad for you? People everywhere, for years, have been asking this same question. It seems like every year we hear something different about carbs. Especially when the “Low-carb” and “Carb-free” fad diets started becoming popular. People loved these diets, because they did lose weight fast, but their nutrition and health were in the toilet. It is hard to keep track of whether you should take in more carbs or less carbs, but many health and nutrition professionals have finally concluded that carbohydrates are BOTH good and bad for you. 

            There is a simple way to identify if a carbohydrate is good or bad for you. It all depends on the amount of dietary fiber is present within the food item. These fiber filled carbs are digested slowly into our systems and keep levels in our body maintained and at healthy amounts, like blood sugar. Good carbs come from foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. Fiber slows down what your body absorbs of other nutrients that you eat at the same meal. When this absorption is slowed down it can help counteract when blood sugar levels start to peak. This can help in decreasing your risk for type 2 diabetes, and lower your cholesterol. Good carbs can also be mixed into traditional recipes you prepare to add a little more fiber and nutritional value to meals. There are easy substitutes, like using whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, and using more fibrous side dishes like spinach, broccoli, baked potatoes, or beans.

            Bad carbs are sugar, added sugar, or refined “white” bread. The level of sugar people take in now is the highest it has ever been. People don’t realize how much sugar is present in the food they take in everyday. People should be more conscious of the amount of sugar present in food, and be sure to check the food label. Refined sugars give you quick boosts of energy, but doesn’t give you a long term gain of natural energy.

            Carbohydrates can give you good energy that is necessary for you to get through your day. They help maintain a healthy digestive system, regulate levels in the body to keep them at steady amounts, and can even help put you in a better mood. Good carbs are very important to the human body, but bad carbs can do your body damage. Do what is good for your body, and fuel it with the good guys so they can help fight off the bad ones!!