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!!

Bikini Body Here I Come


           The new semester is under way, and spring break seems to be inching closer and closer. Now is the time that people begin to get crazy about working out and eating healthy, trying to ensure they get a “beach bod.” Other people are preparing for summer, getting a head start for a long vacation where bathing suits and swimming pools are plentiful. Whatever your situation, here’s a straight forward, simple guide to get a confident body.

            First, before you dive into getting in shape for vacation, know that you should not try any crash diet, liquid cleanse, or mumbo jumbo crazy fad diet. Diets or meal plans that claim huge weight loss in a short time can be very harmful to your body, and will not give you long term results. To get in good shape, and maintain that shape, it takes lots of effort and work on a personal level.

            Second, make cardio and the gym your best friend. I know that working out and exercising isn’t the only aspect factored into losing weight, but it will give you a jump start. The Wellness Center here at Murray State University has a lot to offer someone looking to better their body. There are weight machines, free weights, ellipticals, treadmills, bike machines, stair masters, etc. They also offer fitness classes such as: cycling class, toning class, ab classes, yoga classes, and many more. You can find a workout class schedule at the front office and figure out which class best works for you. So, find a buddy that will go to the gym with you and encourage each other to go to the gym regularly.

            Next, you have to realize working out is not the main aspect of shedding pounds, your food choices are. If you are eating salads loaded with dressings and toppings, grilled chicken dunked in ranch, or steamed vegetables covered in cheese or salt, then you are most likely not making the progress you desire. To drop weight at a faster rate you need to double the amount of organic, fresh vegetables and fruits, have a good protein source, like grilled chicken or fish, and cut down on your carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods. Fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can be prepared in a way that is tasty and healthy. For example, grilled chicken stir-fry fixed with a small amount of oil, grilled chicken sandwich with whole wheat bread, spinach salad with tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, carrots, tuna (no mayo) and a light dressing.

            There are small steps and bigger steps you can take to ensure a healthy body for spring break and summer. It is a lot of work, and some cheating is permitted (only occasionally). The main things are to get active, watch your portions, be smart about your food choices, and get motivated to become the best version of yourself!


Relieve Your Stress by Eating!!


As we start off 2014 and a new semester, everyone is focused on making a good start to the year with classes, grades, their health, and their social lives. As we get into our routine, things will start to get busier, and we can start to get overwhelmed. There are different techniques people use in order to lower their stress levels, but there are actually certain foods that you can eat that can help naturally lower your stress levels as you dive into a tough semester or busy time.

The first food that can help lower your stress levels are oranges. In a German study oranges, which are rich in vitamin C, were found to reduce stress levels and return blood pressure to normal levels. Vitamin C is also known for boosting your immune system, and helps keep it running at a healthy level.

Sweet Potatoes is another food that can help calm you down. Sweet potatoes can satisfy the urges and cravings for carbohydrates and sweets when you are under stress. They are also packed full of vitamins, such as beta-carotene.

Beef is said to be a stress relieving food as well. Beef contains high levels of zinc, iron, and B vitamins which help stabilize your mood.  Beef gets a bad rap sometimes, but when eaten in moderation and the appropriate servings it can be beneficial to your overall mood.

Another food that can reduce stress levels is milk. Milk is high antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, protein, and calcium. Starting your day off with a bowl of whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk with help you fight stress throughout your day.

Blueberries have been found to help stress too. They are very rich in antioxidants. They also are high in fiber, but low in calories, and are rich in vitamin C. Blueberries can be a good snack with cottage cheese or yogurt.

These are five foods that can easily be put in your pantry when you think you are going through a rough patch, or foresee a busy time approaching. These foods won’t completely take away your stress, but taking the time to eat them and fuel your body will make you feel unstoppable when trouble comes your way!! 

Curb Your Stuffing: Healthy Techniques for Turkey Day


Thanksgiving is the kick-off to the holiday season that everyone looks forward to all year. It is where you can sit around with your friends and family and enjoy some turkey and football. Thanksgiving is only once a year, so why not splurge? Gaining weight is expected during the holiday season. But Thanksgiving does not have to totally ruin your weight and make the scale shoot up. With a little conscious effort, you can satisfy your Thanksgiving cravings while leaving the table feeling guilt-free.

First, start out by producing a calorie deficit by getting up and getting active. If you can make the time to burn off some extra calories in the weeks before Thanksgiving, and especially the day of, it will benefit greatly when you indulge in your favorite treats.

Another technique is eating breakfast. While it may sound smarter to skip breakfast to save calories for the rest of the day, eating a small meal in the morning can give you more control over your appetite and what you eat. A good example of a pre-Thanksgiving breakfast would be an egg and a piece of whole wheat toast, or a small bowl of whole-grain cereal. This small little meal is the perfect thing to keep you from being overly hungry before the huge meal, and over filling your plate.

Portion control is another critical component when you are trying to manage the amount of food you are consuming. Thanksgiving tables are overflowing with family favorites, but before you dive in to fill up your plate, survey the table and then make your decision of what you are going to choose. Taking this small, critical step in deciding what to eat can save you mega calories. This also gives you the conscious mind to select reasonable portion sizes. Even though you are trying to manage your food, don’t skip out on the traditional holiday favorites that come once a year, just eat smaller portions of them. Seconds can be deadly for the calorie count, so instead of rushing back to the table, take your time eating, and maybe have a delectable dessert instead of a full second plate.

The holiday season is my favorite time of the year, but I also dread it because I know that the weight can come as well, but it doesn’t have to!!!! Keep a rational head on your shoulders this holiday season and make smarter, healthier decisions instead of throwing the scale out the window. The holidays don’t have to ruin your diet or healthy lifestyle.