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Healthful snack tips  January 24th, 2013

Isn’t the beginning of the term the best? For me, there’s hope that my classes, if not easy, will be interesting. Plus, there’s slack time while everyone adjusts to their schedules (instructors included). Still, I can’t escape the impending doom of midterms and finals. There’s always too much to do; besides my regular life (friends, family, job) extra homework, projects, and studying await me. As you can see, I’m already experiencing emotional and physical symptoms of stress!

I want it to be different this term. While I can’t prevent the looming deadlines, I know I can be better prepared.

I’ll start by figuring out a routine to help me eat well. Why? A surprising fact about stress is that it can cause unhealthy changes in food preferences. Several studies have shown people increase their consumption of certain foods, especially high-fat and sweet snack foods, when under increased pressure. I can relate. When I’m stressed, I crave cookies and brownies. These simple sugars help me feel better temporarily, but I’m often hungry and irritable when the sugar rush ends so I reach for another goodie and… yep, I repeat the cycle. And what do I end up with? A less-than-productive study session for sure, but I also feel a little bad, both physically and emotionally.These eating habits don’t reflect my desire to be healthy.

So, what’s my plan?

1. Eat regular meals, including breakfast.This will help keep my blood sugar levels more consistent throughout the day and, as Natasha’s breakfast post tells us, may help avoid unhealthy snacking. To help me put together balanced meals, I read April’s post on the MyPlate guidelines.

2.Have healthful snacks on hand. Fruit, nuts, and low- or non-fat dairy products are nutritionally dense snack choices, meaning they offer loads of nutrients for the amount of calories they contain. Nuts do contain a significant number of calories but are a great source of protein and healthy fats when enjoyed in moderation.

Check out my video on Heathful snack ideas for more ideas:

3. Know my tendencies. When I’m running late, I’ll plan ahead by having on-the-go foods to bring with me (once again, take a look at my video for ideas). I can also make extra dinner and take it for lunch. When I don’t want to cook, I can eat on campus. I just learned that the dining halls offer some really healthful fare for reasonable prices.

None of this is new information, but maybe you’ve been stuck in a rut like I’ve been. Sometimes, a little focus and a few ideas are all it takes to develop a new, improved routine that’ll set you up for success. Tell me what you think of these ideas and share with me (and other readers) what works for you. Take good care and BeWell on your journey to continued success!

— Tracy Beckmann, Dietetic Intern


  1. Hopson J, Donatelle R and Littrell T. Get Fit, Stay Well! 2nd Edition. (2012). Benjamin Cummings. Chapter 2; pp. 31-60.
  2. Wallis DJ & Hetherington MM. Emotions and eating. Self-reported and experimentally induced changes in food intake under stress. (2009). Appetite; 52:355-362.
  3. Houghton JD, Wu J, Godwin JL & Neck & Manz CC. Effective Stress Management: A Model of Emotional Intelligence, Self-Leadership and Student Stress Coping. (2012). Journal of Management Education. 36:2; 220-238.

MyPlate: Nutrition Made Simple!  March 1st, 2012

Are you, like so many others, confused by all the recommendations out there on how to have a healthy diet? I understand how complicated nutrition information can be, which is why I was thrilled with the unveiling of a food guide symbol with a very simple message.

The Department of Agriculture recently replaced the iconic Food Guid Pyramid with an image of a place setting for a meal, called MyPlate. This self-explanatory visual encourages us to consider proportions when planning meals and to eat foods from each food group. It’s a simple reminder to think about what goes on our plates – and our cups and bowls! Interested in servings recommendations? Go to where you’ll also find other useful resources to aid you in creating your own plate.

One look at MyPlate and you’ll notice the emphasis placed on fruits and veggies, which is no surprise when you consider the great benefits attributed to eating them. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium. Their high fiber content can help to keep you full and assist in weight maintenance. Vegetables are also a great source of vitamin A, keeping your skin looking vibrant and helping to protect you from infections – something we are all concerned about this time of year!

Perhaps you find that getting enough fruit in your diet is easy enough, but vegetables can be an entirely different matter. Well, here are a few easy (and tasty!) ways to load up on this colorful stuff at many of the campus dining centers:

Arnold Bistro

*        Sandwiches at the Deli and Grill come with all the fresh veggies you want

*        Indulge your senses with flavor-packed veggie specials for .95 cents at Global Fare

*        If you haven’t tried the zesty seaweed salad at Nori Grill, you’re in for a treat

McNary Central

*        At Boardwalk Café it’s veggie central! Whether you choose the potato bar, the salad bar, or create your own stir fry special, there are plenty of opportunities to grab some delicious veggies

*        Pair your Calabaloo’s burger with the Signature Pacific City Salad (spring greens, dried cranberries and crisp apples) for $1.95

Marketplace West

*        Pick from a variety of specialty salads at Cooper’s Creek BBQ. Try out my personal favorite, the Grape & Goat Cheese Salad.

*        At the Ring of Fire, you can’t go wrong with a Vietnamese Pho bowl filled with all the best veggies

Bings Café

*        Pack a Bing’s classic calzini with vegetables like artichokes, spinach, and tomato and you’re bound to leave the café full and happy

With a large selection of vegetable options available on campus, “your plate” possibilities are endless! So BeWell and happy eating.

By April Strickland, Dietetic Intern, OSU


The importance of breakfast  January 18th, 2012

As college students, life is sometimes a little rushed, often un-predictable, and usually stressful. During times of uncertainty one thing is for sure, we need to eat. We need to nourish, refuel, and replenish our bodies and minds in order to tackle life as college students. When schedules get a little crazy eating is sometimes overlooked or pushed to the side. Remember when your parents would say, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day?” Well if you do, there is substantial research that provides evidence that this saying is accurate when it comes to health, weight maintenance, and cognitive function.
Upon awaking after a night of sleeping there is a physiological need to replenish the body’s energy or blood sugar stores. By consuming breakfast the body is able to replenish its diminished stores, as a result, providing it with energy. But when breakfast is skipped your body cannot replenish itself and may try to get energy elsewhere such as your muscles. As some of you know from experience which I can attest to as well, having a reduction in energy may lead to decreased ability to think and remember clearly and energy to engage in physical activity.
Researchers suggest that when breakfast is skipped there is a tendency to overeat later in the day or consume an unhealthy snack. Studies have gathered a correlation between breakfast skippers and their body mass index (BMI), an indicator of body fat, being higher than those who consume breakfast. In other words, if you are trying to maintain or loss weight skipping breakfast is not a healthy solution. By eating more frequent meals it can assist the body’s ability to utilize energy and lower BMI. No one enjoys that rollercoaster feeling of high and low energy spurts; keep your energy levels coasting by eating 3-5 small meals throughout the day.
There is a slight catch, not all breakfast foods are made equal, and the type of breakfast can have a difference on the overall quality of the diet. Choosing a carbohydrate dense, moderate-high fiber food such as a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal or cooked cereals (like oatmeal, cream of wheat, or grits) paired with fruit is a great way to keep you satiated and full longer. Fiber is a beneficial part of a healthy diet that may prevent the development of certain diseases and keep things moving smoothly. It is recommended that women get 28 grams and men get 35 grams of fiber a day. Look for cereals that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and less than 5 grams of sugar per serving such as cheerios, raisin brain, and shredded wheat-originals. In addition to cold and cooked cereals some great breakfast foods include:

  • Low fat yogurt with fruit or granola (check the label and look for low fat, low sugar varieties)
  • String cheese and crackers
  • Pancake or waffle with peanut butter
  • Whole wheat bagel with fruit spread or nut/seed butters
  • Veggie omelet (the more veggies the better)
  • English muffin with a poached egg
  • Made to order breakfast burritos at Arnold and McNary (choose ham + lots of veggies)

All these foods can be found at any of the campus dining centers. With the start of the new year make it a priority to eat breakfast. You are not only energizing yourself but you are creating a positive health behavior for life. Refresh, refuel, and BeWell.

By Natasha Luff, Dietetic Intern, OSU

Works Cited

1. Breaking the Fast; The Timing and The Contents of Breakfast Make it Perhaps the Most Important Meal of the Day. (2011). Harvard Health Letter. Retrieved from
2. Cho, S., Dietrich, M., Brown, C., Clark, C., et al (2003). The Effect of Breakfast Type on Total Daily Energy Intake and Body Mass Index: Results from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(NHANES III). J Am Coll Nutr (22.4) 296-302.
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010
4. Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options to grab at home. (2011). Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic Online

Celebrating sustainable food systems  October 24th, 2011

Hopefully, you were able to participate in Food Day events on Monday, Oct. 24!  Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life to advocate for healthy, affordable food that is produced in a sustainable, humane way.  For more information, check out

UHDS, along with other campus partners including the MU Food Service, Student Sustainability Initiative, Human Services Resource Center/OSU Food Pantry and the Student Dietetic Association hosted information tables  in the Memorial Union Quad in celebration of Food Day. Each group shared information on services and resources that support healthy food.

In UHDS dining centers our goal is to keep healthy food accessible, affordable and from local sources, whenever possible. (See examples of healthy affordable food available in the dining centers in my previous blog).

UHDS is a member of the Food Alliance, an organization that promotes environmental and social responsibility for the food system, and demonstrates this commitment through partnerships with many local vendors.  UHDS is a proud partner with OSU’s Organic Growers Club/Oak Creek Farm.  Although harvest time is coming to an end, Cascadia Market in the new International Living and Learning Center still offers some selections such as tomatoes, hot peppers and bell peppers.  UHDS also supports many other local vendors. Here are just a few examples:

  • Bob’s Red Mill
  • Carlton Farms
  • Country Natural Beef
  • Dave’s Killer Bread
  • The Higher Taste
  • Franz Bakery
  • Kenagy Family Farm
  • Nearly Normal’s Gonzo Cuisine
  • Pacific Coast Fruit Company
  • Spring Valley Dairy
  • Rain Sheep
  • Red Hat Melons
  • Riverwood Orchard & Farm
  • Stahlbush Island Farms
  • Stella Gelato
  • Truitt Brothers
  • Willamette Valley Cheese Company

Waste not, want not.  In UHDS dining centers, leftovers do not go to waste.  UHDS supports community-based emergency food programs by providing leftover, usable food to Linn-Benton Food Share .  Additionally, plate waste is composted at Allied Waste. At Arnold Dining Center, customers sort all compostable and recyclable products and at McNary Dining and Marketplace West, sorting is completed behind the scenes in our dish rooms.

To learn more about what UHDS is doing to support sustainable food systems, see the UHDS sustainability website.

Thanks and Be Well!

Tara Sanders, UHDS Dietician

Mission nutrition: OSU’s dining centers launch ‘stealth health’  October 4th, 2011

Welcome to Oregon State University and University Housing & Dining Services!

At UHDS, we employ “stealth health” strategies, under the radar efforts to make the healthy choice the easy choice for those we serve.

A major stealth health strategy this year has been to offer inexpensive fruit, vegetable, whole grain, lean protein and dairy options. To this end, in all of our dining centers you will find a “mini” salad option available for just $1!  Also, sides of vegetables, grains and beans are 95 cents.  Non-fat and 2 percent milk is slightly less expensive than the chocolate version and apples, bananas and oranges are only 65 cents each!

Over the summer, the new International Living Learning Center building was completed and is home for a new Cascadia Market and Peet’s Coffee.  The Cascadia Market features a wide range of fresh produce, including organic produce grown right here on campus at the Oak Creek Farm. Also, there is a wide range of options for those with special diet considerations including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan items.

Arnold Bistro’s Global Fare offers boldly flavored whole grains and legumes and you can design your own pasta special with healthy ingredients including whole wheat pasta.  At Nori Grill you will find a variety of hand-rolled sushi as well as other traditional Japanese cuisine options.  Build your own salad, Calzini or sandwich at Bings using an array of fresh veggies and whole grain breads and pizza crust.

Marketplace West and McNary’s Calabaloo’s restaurants feature the Pacific City Salad for just $1.95, made with local apples and dried cranberries and served with a splash of balsamic vinaigrette.  Calabaloo’s is also serving Corvallis’ iconic Nearly Normal’s Sunburger — a vegan veggie burger sure to delight carnivores and herbivores alike.  Marketplace West recently added a variety of freshly made salads at Cooper’s Creek.  Be sure to check out the Blackened Chicken, Grilled Vegetable, Southern Cobb and Beef Brisket salads!

McNary Dining’s Boardwalk Cafe features daily bean and grain specials such as Quinoa with Orange and Cuban Black Beans and Basmati Rice and Curried Garbonzo Beans for under $2.  Della Pasta will soon be offering a build your own “Benevita” Bowl layered with wholesome ingredients like brown rice, basil pesto and cannellini beans.

If you are looking for gluten-free options, vegan and vegetarian, or Halal options (for those who follow strict Islamic law), there are several available options for you in each dining center viewable at the following link.  Also, you can check online menus for nutrition, ingredient and allergy information.  If there are special dietary considerations that you need assistance with, I am here to serve you so don’t hesitate to contact me.

As always, if you have additional food service suggestions and ideas, we want to hear from you!

Be Well! Tara Sanders, UHDS Dietitian


Sushi chef at Arnold Bistro

Sushi chef at Arnold Bistro

Sushi bar at Arnold Dining Center

Nori Grill at Arnold Bistro

Fad Diets  May 19th, 2011

The Cabbage Soup Diet.  All you can eat Banana Diet.  The Three Day Diet. Since the seventies, it seems that our society has been obsessed with these types of “fad diets”.  According to Webster’s dictionary, a fad diet is defined as a reducing diet that enjoys temporary popularity. Typically fad diets promise quick and easy weight loss and offer claims that sound too good to be true (which is usually why they skyrocket in popularity….we want a quick fix!) Read the rest of this entry »

Why Whole Grains?  April 21st, 2011

In the recent release of the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines , Americans are encouraged to eat more whole grains and eat at least half of your grains from whole grain sources. This encouragement is reinforced in the marketplace where you can find statements and health claims on products containing whole grains such as “contains 16 g whole grains per serving; eat 48 grams or more per day” or “a diet rich in fiber may reduced the risk of heart disease”.  What does all of this mean?  Why the emphasis on whole grains? First, let’s begin with some definitions and facts. Read the rest of this entry »

Wellness Tips for Studying  February 23rd, 2011

Contributed by Megan Ahlquist

Megan is a Junior at OSU majoring in Nutrition

Unbelievably winter term is already half over.  For the majority of college students this means Round 2 of mid-terms.   I know for me personally, this is when I start getting burned out.  After quizzes, homework, and papers, I can barely muster up the energy for round 2.

Looking for ways to keep your energy steady while studying and maximizing your “mental stamina?” Here are some wellness tips for studying. Read the rest of this entry »

Vitamin D: Are You Getting Enough??  January 27th, 2011

The easiest way for our bodies to synthesize Vitamin D is through the sun.  That’s right, the sun.  Therefore, it is not surprising that (in a state where it rains nine months out of the year) many individuals living in Oregon have low Vitamin D levels.

But before you run off to the Bahamas to replenish your depleted Vitamin D stores Read the rest of this entry »

Managing That Sweet Tooth over the Holidays  November 30th, 2010

The Holiday season is upon us and for many, this is a season of giving….and eating. 🙂  For my family, the Holidays are a time of year to enjoy the company of family and friends and share treats like pumpkin pie, frosted cookies, peanut brittle, and (one of my favorite’s) Aunt Julie’s Rocky Road fudge.  Although we celebrate different holiday traditions, for the most part, we share the experience of enjoying special foods and treats.  Food is a vital part of the Holiday experience and helps “amplify” the spirit of the season.

However delicious, many of the Holiday treats are sweet and based in refined carbohydrates and sugar…and over-indulgence of these goodies can send our bodies on a roller coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.

It is interesting that in nature you hardly ever find a carbohydrate that is not protected by a covering of fiber.  Even the sugar in sugar cane is protected by a dense husk that (once upon a time) we had to chew on to break down the fibers to get to the sugar.  Fiber protects the plants grains from nature’s elements, and it also protects our bodies.  Minimally processed carbohydrates such as whole grains break down slowly in our bodies and help us maintain more stable blood sugar levels.

“Are Carbs Bad For Me”?

As UHDS’ dietitian, this is definitely one of the top ten questions that I hear.  The answer?  No (they’re not bad for us), in fact they are essential. Carbohydrates are our bodies’ most efficient fuel source.  On average, carbohydrates account for 50-60% of our daily calories.  Our bodies’ process carbohydrates differently depending on how “refined” they are.  Refined carbohydrates have been processed to remove the bran or fiber, leaving smaller chains of sugar that the body can easily break down into simple sugars (our cell’s #1 energy choice).

So eating more refined carbohydrates (such as candy, sugary treats, soda, white rice, white flour) can cause blood sugars to spike and consequently, cause spikes in insulin to allow the our cells to take in the sugar.  These sugar “highs and lows” can be taxing on our body and sometimes people feel a “sugar crash” (tired, lack of focus) after eating too many refined carbs.

Veering from the Sugar Crash

Here a few simple strategies to keep from the “sugar crash” over the holidays:

  • Savor the flavor.  Most of the time we feel just as satisfied with a small amount of sweet treats than if we were to eat a larger portion.
  • Fill up with veggies, fruit, lean proteins and whole grains before (or while) enjoying your treat.
  • Make fresh fruit your portable, 100% biodegradable  snack of choice –fresh apples, bananas and oranges are only $.65 in UHDS dining centers and stores—grab a few and enjoy in your room, on your way to class, or on a road trip!
  • Quench that thirst…with water! Fill up that reusable water bottle and make that your #1 beverage choice over sugary beverages.  Drinking water will help keep you hydrated during the busy season and provide a feeling of fullness.