As students, we are expected to read and read often. Many of us are drowning in textbook chapters, novels, articles, and wordy Blackboard discussion posts. While this reading is of course crucial to our educational endeavor, it can lead to huge reading burnout. Over winter break, I picked up a young adult romance novel and realized just how much I missed reading for enjoyment. It got me thinking about how I’ve learned to approach reading as a college student– I don’t unless I have to and when I do, I am skimming– part because I don’t have time to read, but part because I’m uninterested. A lot of people who came to college as bookworms have lost that part of themselves underneath all of the content– but it’s so important to win that part back. Others, maybe were never into reading– that’s okay too. But there’s so much more to reading once you get beyond the annoyance. Reading is like sex– especially if you’re reading erotica– everyone has yucks and yums and all are valid. There is a lot of reading material out there for everyone’s interest in well-being. We’ll dive more into this later.
Reading for relationship-building
There are a lot of published studies that highlight the importance of reading for mental wellness and intellectual wellness. Many of us have heard of reading to reduce stress and anxiety in addition to improving cognitive outcomes (check out this article that explores some of this!) However, one perk of reading that does not get emphasized enough is the benefit of reading for our social life; cracking open a book can improve social wellness! Reading perspectives that are similar and dissimilar to ours helps us improve our ability to communicate with others as well as build a foundation for solid values and understanding one another. One study concluded that reading “includes learning more about yourself and others; learning how to understand, empathize, and interact with other people; gaining insight into your and others’ relationships; and generally helping with personal problems” (https://journals.ala.org/index.php/rusq/article/view/4099/4667).
An additional option for exploration is book clubs! One study found that “A sense of belonging was achieved between students with a variety of differences and
disagreements. The sense of belonging extended to multiple contexts, deepening understanding and accountability within the academic and social aspects of learning” (Petrich 11).
Book clubs serve as an opportunity for social interaction while also creating a shared interest for discussion to break the ice. If you’re interested in joining a book club, there is a student organization Book Club. Find out more information on laker link. A lot of bookstores and coffee shops also host book clubs- keep your eyes peeled for fliers when you’re there!
Let’s Talk About Sex (In Literature)
So, speaking of erotica, let’s talk about sex. We live in a culture, and a geographical space, where sex is taboo. As a peer sex educator, I feel perfectly comfortable talking about sex and sex education- but I also acknowledge that there is stigma. Not everyone is having sex and not everyone wants to and that is so valid! For those wanting to explore sex and sexuality while remaining abstinent, one of the best places to go is literature. Of course, there are educational texts out there that include diagrams of penises and vulvas which are great to learn about anatomy, but there is so much more available than what we might’ve been taught in sex ed. There’s a huge variety of content that covers sex and sexuality such as romance novels, erotica, online fanfiction*, books that explore the psychology of sex and relationships, books about sexuality, and the iconic category that is “ah! Horny Vampires!” (looking at you Twilight and Dracula). Reading about sex and sexuality as an alternative to engaging in sex is great for protecting against STIs and pregnancy. When combined with sex, reading material like erotica can spice things up.
Check out some benefits of reading erotica: https://hellogiggles.com/erotica-benefits/
Self-proclaimed sexologist Lucy Rowett shares some books that led her to become a sexologist: https://lucyrowett.com/top-10-books-influenced-me-sexologist-purity-culture/
*Please be advised that fanfiction is a very broad genre and may be confusing to navigate. Often, there are fanfiction websites with special search engines that allow you to explore what you’re looking for. Search safely (and clear your browser history).
Finance literature may be an intimidating genre for many college students. However, there is a lot of information out there that does apply! While we may not care to learn about 401ks and savings bonds, doing some research on budgeting, how to use a credit card, and navigating student loans may be beneficial. One great resource if you’re looking for a shorter read is the Federal Student Aid webpage. The Federal Student Aid webpage contains a lot of information specific to students and offers different resource links for further reading and research!
There’s a lot of stuff out there to read! Instead of scrolling through Tiktok, consider looking for some reading materials- whether it be a full-length novel, an article, or a blog post (such as the WIT blog series). Read on!
By: Rowan, WIT Peer Educator
Posted on Permanent link for Reading for Wellness on February 15, 2024.
Living a healthy and long life is something that many of us aspire to do. The average lifespan for someone living in the United States is about 77 years (according to the CDC). Quality versus quantity of life is also an important aspect to consider for this conversation. There is one location in the United States that stands out compared to the rest of the U.S.. Loma Linda, California is one of five locations throughout the world that is categorized as a Blue Zone. People in Loma Linda live up to ten years longer than the national average and people in Blue Zones typically live to 100 years. So let’s have an overview as to what makes the Blue Zones so unique.
The Power Nine
The Blue Zones were discovered and named by explorer and journalist Dan Buettner. Buettner identified the five Blue Zones- Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Nicoya, Costa Rica. Nine elements that these five locations have in common include:
- Movement; through everyday activity
- Purpose; having your “Why”
- Relaxation; taking time for yourself
- Eating to 80% fullness; not eating to uncomfortable fullness
- Rarely eating meat; prioritizing a plant-based diet with whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts and seeds with the occasional fish or other meat
- Moderate drinking habits; especially within a social setting by having a glass of wine
- Community; belonging to a faith-based community or other communities that share interests or values
- Importance of family; being close to parents, grandparents, or lifelong partners
- Social belonging; your social circle or group of friends
In other words, the Blue Zones prioritized daily movement, a balanced diet and having a social circle to promote belonging and community. I can also see there is a general theme of low stress and overall enjoying life and the day-to-day activities a person does. The people in Blue Zones emphasize the importance of not getting stressed about the little things.
In the United States, there tends to be a culture that revolves around a ‘hustle and grind’ mentality, which is almost a polar opposite to the Blue Zones. Individuals in the Blue Zones also enjoy working. The work they do gives them a sense of community and purpose, not something that they need to do in order to be viewed as ‘productive’. The work they do also prioritizes their community and social circles to benefit the people around them. Finding a career that truly brings you joy and purpose can bring you one step closer to living like those in the Blue Zones.
These individuals eat and share a balance of eating what is healthy for one’s body but also fully enjoying the food. Eating fresh food that is in an abundance of plants and limited processed foods is a staple. Green leafy vegetables, beans, whole grains, and the occasional meat or fish is common. Meals are also centered around community and family as well, which emphasizes the importance of these connections. Through the majority of these Power Nine elements, the aspect of others and social wellness is something to make note of. Family, friends and community is what likely gives the Blue Zones its advantage towards longevity.
By: Claire, WIT Peer Educator
Posted on Permanent link for The Blue Zones on February 8, 2024.
In case you didn’t know (just like I didn’t), January is Self-Love Month! What could be a better way to start off the new semester than that, huh? But, just because January’s almost over, that doesn’t mean you should stop practicing self-love during the rest of the year! For some of you, you might have self-love locked down. For others, it might be a bit harder. Either way, we’ve got some helpful tips and activities that’ll help you nurture and flourish the love you have for yourself.
What is Self-Love & What Does it Look Like?
Although it might seem obvious, let’s define what self-love really means. Self-love means having an appreciation of your worth; and having concern for, and giving attention to, your own happiness and well-being. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, though. I know that I’m definitely guilty of putting the happiness of my friends and my partners before my own. It is a good thing to be selfless and put the needs of others first, but not when it’s at the expense of your own well-being. You deserve to be appreciated and happy. And no one else can truly appreciate you better than yourself.
So, we know what self-love is, but what does it look like? Well, self-love looks like taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially. Simply put, practicing self-care can develop the love you have for yourself. Self-care encompasses the actions and practices that you take to support your overall well-being.
How To Develop Self-Love Through Self-Care
The first step in practicing self-care is to know yourself and your body. Start by taking a moment to recognize how you feel after engaging in specific activities like sleep, exercise, spending time with friends, a favorite hobby, or a night out partying. Which activities seem to drain you? And which feel like they rejuvenate you? Do some of them give you energy only for a certain amount of time before becoming draining? Knowing what makes you feel good (and what doesn’t) is the first step in knowing what you need in order to care for yourself.
For example, if you know you feel better after physical activity (and let’s be honest, most of us do), self-care is making room in your schedule to exercise, even if it means giving up something else like watching your favorite TV show. Sometimes, self-care isn’t fun. It means following through with what you need even if you don’t want to. Sometimes, self-care can be hard, too, such as having to set boundaries with friends and with loved ones. This can look like saying “no” when something is asked of you even if that means disappointing someone else, or standing up for yourself when you’re being treated unfairly. It can also look like ending a toxic relationship because it might be hard to see it, but you know that you deserve better.
All of this isn’t to say that self-care can’t be enjoyable or fun because it absolutely can be! Self-care can also look like taking a day off because you’ve been working really hard lately (maybe a little too hard) or reading a good book or going to see a movie. It can look like treating yourself to a special food or taking a relaxing bath, getting your hair done, playing a video game, or spending time with friends.
Ultimately, self-care is listening to your body and your mind, and then giving yourself whatever it is you need in order to feel your best and become the best version of yourself that you can be.
Classic Self-Care Tips
Some specific ideas for practicing self-care while at college include:
- Setting a routine (and sticking to it). As mentioned earlier with the exercise example, you may not want to do it, but you will benefit from it. So decide to do it and follow through; it’ll help you feel more productive and focused in the long run.
- Prioritizing your sleep. As a college student, there’s always something to do (trust me, I know). But making sure you get enough sleep each night (at least seven hours), will give you more energy to do even more things. Read more about How to Unleash Your Inner Sleeping Beauty!
- Eating as many balanced meals as possible. Again, another task that can be difficult for college students, but not impossible. Giving your body the nutrients it deserves will make you feel better physically and mentally. Here are some recipes from one of our other blogs!
I hope these ideas help you practice self-care and I wish you a very happy year of self-love!
By: Sara, WIT Peer Educator
Although it might not be the label we use, many of us hear about, or even experience stalking. January is recognized nationally as Stalking Awareness Month. 18 to 24 year olds experience the highest occurrences of stalking, which can include many college students. We often oversimplify stalking behaviors as, “They’re bothering me” or “This person is being a little creepy”. By reducing the severity of these actions, stalkers can go on to continue these behaviors and cause detrimental effects. This can create stigma around the topic of stalking as well as result in destruction of a victim’s life.
Stalking tactics can be categorized as surveillance, life invasion, intimidation or interference. People may believe stalking behaviors that are categorized as surveillance, for example watching or gathering information, may not be ‘as dangerous’. One article summarizes that throughout our justice system, physical harm is taken more seriously than psychological harm. This causes stalking charges to become less frequent due to the stigma of it. Stalking is a severe crime that can completely alter a victim’s life psychologically or even physically. Stalking tactics that are categorized as interference include: Spreading rumors, impersonating the victim, publicly sharing personal information, damaging property or even physical attack.
Many people experiencing stalking may be hesitant to report the crime. On average, only 39% of victims report to the police. The most common reasons for not reporting included, “it was “not a police matter” (20%), “police couldn’t do anything” (17%), and fear of “reprisal from stalker” (16%)”. These statistics for lack of reporting can be alarming, as the victims can experience negative consequences from stalking behaviors. The impacts of stalking for the victim can range from financial/occupational loss, depression, insomnia, anxiety and/or social dysfunction.
What is Stalking Exactly?
The definition can vary from state to state, or even between universities, due to different jurisdictions. Title IX defines stalking as, “Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (1) Fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or (2) Suffer substantial emotional distress”.
As stated earlier, there are also many different stalking tactics. So, let’s break it down a little bit more:
Types of Stalking Behavior: (SLII)
-Watching and gathering information
- This includes following, watching, monitoring online presence, seeking out personal information or using tracking software
-Showing up in victim’s life without consent
- This includes repeatedly initiating unwanted contact, sending gifts, spreading rumors, invaded property, humiliation, showing up to places that you commonly go
-Intimidation with the prior experiences and context in mind
- This can include threats- personally or others victim cares about-, blackmail, engagement in symbolic violence, anything to alarm or intimidate
-Affecting a victim’s reputation, career or safety
- This can include damaging property (or stealing), causing a serious accident, disrupted professional or social life, holding against will, assaulted victim or others close to victim
How Can I Prevent This or Take Action Against It?
It can be hard to know who to trust, but ultimately, trust your gut! If something doesn’t feel right, you’re probably right. Avoid giving out personal information such as phone numbers or addresses if possible. If you feel safe to do so, practice setting some boundaries. Here are some examples:
- “I am not interested in having a relationship with you. Do not contact me ever again”
- “I do not want you to have contact with me in any way. If you continue to do so-or if you are on my property, or follow me-I will call the police”
If you feel unsafe or the behaviors continue, seek help! You can either reach out to GVPD ((616) 331-3255) or directly call 911 if you are in immediate danger. Or you can contact 616-331-9530 to speak to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX or 616-331-2742 to speak to Victim Advocate Stalking is a serious issue that can result in many harmful outcomes for the victims. Being aware of how stalking occurs and how to seek help can be extremely valuable to keep yourself and others safe!
By: Claire, WIT Peer Educator
Posted by Katie Jourdan on Permanent link for Stalking Stigma on January 18, 2024.
Do you ever get into a routine and then come to realize your week went by in a blink? Do you ever get the feeling that what you are learning is losing its charm? Are you wondering how you can be more present and have more fun? Well according to many studies, the answer could be curiosity:
- Beat the winter blues with curiosity. Studies have shown that when we discover or learn about something new our brains send us signals that make us feel good, boosting our mood.
- Build relationships. Research shows that genuine curiosity is one of the biggest factors that contributes to creating a closer connection when interacting with others.
- Score higher on assignments. Whether at school or any other occupation, having curiosity about the task at hand can improve the overall outcome of our efforts.
This winter, the WIT Peer Educators are excited to keep your adventuring and curiosity going with some new content each week! We are a group of fellow students with a passion for helping our peers stay informed and inspired about health and wellness topics.
We are back this winter with a series of content including some of our favorite topic areas of sexual health, nutrition, rest, the 8 dimensions of wellness, and much more! We have so many topic ideas we are excited to share with you this semester. Watch for a post every Thursday, either on Instagram, the RecWell blog, or both!
If you can’t wait until Thursday, check out our past blog posts on our website. Take a look at everything from “What is Sexuality?” to “Easy Winter Meals to Make in Your Dorm” to “How to Unleash Your Inner Sleeping Beauty". Got another idea you’d like to see? Head over to our Ask WIT question box and we’ll get one written just for you!
If blog posts or Instagram aren’t your thing, scroll through the student wellness website containing a plethora of information and resources, request a presentation on our website, catch us at the WIT cart (probably inside this semester) or attend some of our many events, including the continuation of the Eat Well series with Laker Food Co.
Whatever you might be up to this winter, we hope you can take some moments to pause and explore a range of wellness topics to boost your mood, foster growth in the 8 dimensions of wellness, put more joy into learning, and reap the benefits of curiosity!
By: Josie, WIT Peer Educator
Permanent link for Ways to Keep Your Immune System Strong in the Cold Winter Months on December 11, 2023
Well, I think we can say that we are finally getting into the colder months. As I walk around campus I see the ugg boots, coats, hats, and gloves and the coffee shops busier than ever! With this time of year cold and flu season kicks into high gear and we must take the time to make extra efforts in keeping ourselves healthy. While it's impossible to remove yourself completely from all the winter germs, there are many things you can do to help keep your immune system in tip top shape so that you can fight the germs when they come your way.
Sleep and immunity are closely tied, as poor quality sleep is linked to higher susceptibility to sickness. Getting adequate rest is important to strengthen your immunity and keep up with your busy schedule. Also, if you do get sick, it's important to allow your body extra time for rest as your body will be able to better fight off the illness. Adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep each night to promote healthy sleep hygiene. If you have trouble sleeping, keeping your room as dark as possible, going to bed at the same time each night, and exercising regularly can help improve sleep quality.
Foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes are full of nutrients and antioxidants that help decrease inflammation in the body. Increased inflammation is linked to having a lower immune response and can cause you to catch a cold easier. Also, fiber in plant foods feed your gut microbiome which is the bacteria that lives in your stomach along the digestive tract. A good gut microbiome can improve your immunity and help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body via the digestive tract. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C like oranges, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes and potatoes also will help to fight off that common cold. Other foods that are particularly good for the immune system include whole grains, lean protein, fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso or tempeh, and some spices like garlic, ginger, turmeric and even cinnamon.
Moderate exercise can help boost your immune system tremendously. It has been shown to be just as effective as vaccines in people with compromised immune systems. Regular moderate exercise also helps keep inflammation low and help your immune cells regenerate regularly. Jogging, walking, swimming, lifting or any other activity you enjoy are all great ways to keep your body healthy!
Water plays many important roles in our body including supporting our immune system. Water is important because our blood and lymph, the fluid that provides a way for the body to get rid of waste, need water in order to keep the immune cells in them flowing and circulating. It's important that you are hydrating with the right fluids too. Water is the best, as you should try and avoid loading up on caffeinated drinks, juices, and sodas.
It's important to keep stress levels at bay as chronic stress can really impact your health. Stress can potentially have a secondary impact on your immune function if it leads to sleep disturbances, a tendency to eat less nutritious foods, less water intake, and less frequent exercise. A tip to help keep stress levels low is finding time to engage in self care regularly. Whether that is lighting a candle, reading, walking in nature, a nice warm bath, or enjoying a cup of coffee or tea.
Utilizing these simple techniques can help you stay healthy during the colder months so that you can enjoy all that this season has to offer. I know I’ll be!
By: Amber Gunneson, WIT Volunteer
I hope everyone had a lovely thanksgiving break! I hope you were able to relax, eat yummy foods, and/or spend time with loved ones as I know I did! While on break I got to thinking about what my next post would be, and with all the holiday foods and family time I was reminded by the diet talk that comes along with this time of year. The talk of calories and weight are everywhere as we tend to enjoy more diverse foods. No matter where you are, or who you are, it's hard to not get reeled into this type of thinking. However, it's important to remember the basics and the actual science! That's where I come in to help remind you when you start to hear that diet culture talk!
There’s a lot of talk about calories around this time of year and how we need to “watch” how many calories we are eating. However, it is important to keep in mind your eating behaviors and how your body feels in relation. Many times people think that our bodies don’t need many calories or that we need to exercise a ton to “earn” our calories but our bodies need WAY more than we think just to keep our heart pumping, digestion working, and for our brain to function. However, if we don’t give them the fuel(calories) then they won’t be able to perform these bodily processes which in turn can lead to a lot of health consequences.
First off, I want to remind you that everyone’s needs are different and no two people need the same amount of fuel to perform their best! We are all unique and we can not compare. We also can’t be certain on exactly how many calories we need each day nor do we need too! If you listen to your hunger, fullness and natural body cues your body will often tell you just what it needs. This oftentimes is overshadowed by diet culture which is where the problems start to occur. I thought this would be a great time to look at some signs to tell whether or not you are fueling your body enough or maybe if it's time to look at your eating habits and refine them a bit. Here are some things to look out for.
- You're low on energy- If you are feeling lethargic and more tired than usual this may be a sign that you are not eating enough. When we don’t give our bodies enough fuel just like giving a car gas it won’t run.
- Poor cognition and productivity i.e. brain fog- If you feel like your brain may be stuck in a cloud or that you’re constantly forgetting things this may be a sign that you're not eating enough.
- Irritable Mood- We’ve all heard of the saying, “you aren’t yourself when your hangry!” There is truth to this statement. When we are not giving our bodies enough we can often get very irritable and moody. It can even go further to affect our mental health in many different ways such as increased depression and anxiety symptoms.
- Feeling chilly- It is normal to feel cold when it's snowy and cold but if you are constantly getting cold and can’t get warm this may be a sign you're not eating enough. You need to consume a substantial amount of food to keep your body warm while performing other bodily functions.
- Hair loss and brittle nails- If you are not consuming enough calories your body will take priority in what it will utilize the calories that it is given. The first line of defense is keeping our hearts beating, and our brains and lungs functioning. Hair, skin, and nails are not essential for human life so our body will prioritize. If you notice you're losing more hair, your skin is dry and flaky, or you have brittle nails, this could very well be because you are not consuming enough.
If you are experiencing any of these signs it may be time to look at your diet and what you’re eating. It can also be helpful to reach out for support from your healthcare provider or a dietitian who is specialized in this area and can get you on the right track! What’s awesome is that we have access to a dietitian right here on campus. Check her out and make an appointment if you have any questions regarding your food consumption. She is a great resource and is extremely knowledgeable!
By: Amber Gunneson, WIT Volunteer
Posted on Permanent link for Are you Eating Enough? on December 1, 2023.
During the holiday season everyone seems so busy! With parties, events, finals, shopping and all the exciting and joyful things you participate in at this time of year can become a time of stress and anxiety as well. I know for myself Christmas is my favorite time of year, however, as much joy that it does bring me I have to make sure that during this busy season I find time to take extra care of myself, and my mental health. Oftentimes the holidays, whichever you celebrate, can bring up a lot of different emotions. From excitement, joy, gratitude, and pleasure to overwhelm, sadness, and burnout, this time of year can bring up a lot. I want you to know that you are not alone and this is totally normal! I’ve created some tips that have helped me and others navigate this time of year so that we can still be able to enjoy the holidays as well as take care of ourselves.
It can be extremely helpful to write a list of all the things you need to accomplish. That may also involve prioritizing what should get done first and what can wait till a later date. This may come with having to say no to certain things/plans in order to take care of yourself and not get overwhelmed. This is something I know that I continue to have to work on as I am always wanting to be involved in everything, but I know that if I say yes all the time burnout occurs much quicker and I lose sight of what the holiday season really is supposed to be about.
2. Find pleasure and Joy and Rest
Yes the holidays are busy but it's important to find time to engage in the joyful, pleasurable, rejuvenating things that refresh you and give you energy to get through all the tasks at hand! This also includes taking time to rest. Things like making sure you get enough sleep, making sure you are eating healthy foods in nourishing amounts and finding time for your favorite self care activities is very important. This can all help to avoid getting overwhelmed by the stress of the busy season. Some of my favorite self care activities to do in the winter are taking warm baths, drinking some hot tea or coffee, journaling, watching Christmas/holiday movies, and Christmas coloring pages. I also love lighting holiday scented candles during this time of year!
3. Ask or Accept Help
Accepting and/or asking for help can be an extremely hard task for many. I know for me it is! However, we can not and certainly shouldn’t do everything ourselves. Asking for help is necessary in order to get everything done. It can be helpful to delegate tasks with others like splitting up the cooking or shopping duties. Also, if you find yourself needing extra help to get through finals don’t be afraid to join a study group, visit the tutoring center, or speak with the professor. Everyone needs help from time to time. Don’t feel bad asking for help. We as humans are not made to walk through life alone, and that doesn’t change during the holiday season as well!
4. Allow room for changes in routine
With the holiday season comes a lot of changes in routine and schedule. This can also bring about a lot of stress or anxiety. It can often leave you feeling unsettled and maybe not fully grounded. Change in general, no matter good or bad, can be very hard and even uncomfortable. For me change can sometimes even be scary. The one thing I have learned through going through change is that things will go smoother if you embrace and allow for the change to happen, instead of trying to avoid or resist it. This can be an extremely hard thing to do and I am still working on it myself! Give yourself some grace! It's okay to fall back into your old routine from time to time as well!
5. Find time to breathe…..and Laugh!!
It's important to remember to breathe during this time of year. We often hold so much stress and tension that we forget to do this simple thing. Breathing and taking a second to focus on your breath can bring comfort, strength, and focus to get you through the day/season. Not only is it important to breathe, it's also important to find time to laugh! The holidays shouldn’t be all stress and anxiety but it should be a time for celebration and excitement as well. Find time to laugh with friends and family, maybe reflecting back on memories or engaging in holiday activities. Laughter can lift our spirits up and release a lot of stress in our bodies.
Utilizing these 5 tips can help make the holiday season or any stressful time of year a much more enjoyable and healthy experience for you! Remember, at the end of the day the holidays aren’t meant to make us anxious, stressed or overwhelmed. However, they are meant to provide celebration, joy, love, and excitement into our everyday lives!
By: WIT Volunteer, Amber Gunneson
With the cold weather months approaching us, it is normal to begin craving more warm and comforting food. As the days become shorter it can sometimes feel hard to find motivation to cook a meal during the busy holiday months. There’s so much going on during this time of year but it is really important to still prioritize good nutrition practices for yourself in order to get through the hustle and bustle of the season. I know for myself that during the winter months my nutrition/food choices look different than the spring and summer months. I’ll often make a lot more warm and nourishing meals that comfort both my soul and my body! A lot of meals I make also have a nostalgic feel which brings a sense of gratitude and pleasure for this time of year. You may feel overwhelmed when it comes to cooking and being a college student, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Many recipes that I make only take a few ingredients and a few minutes to make. They are also relatively cheap, and won’t hurt your budget! Below are some winter-inspired recipes to spruce up your holiday season!
- 2 slices of whole grain bread (or bread of choice)
- 1-2 tbsp peanut butter or any nut or seed butter
- 1 banana
- 1 tbsp honey
- A sprinkle of chia seeds
- Cinnamon to taste
Directions: Toast 2 slices of bread in a toaster or toaster oven. Spread peanut butter or any nut butter of your choosing on top of the bread. Slice a banana and put on top of the toast. Drizzle on the honey, then sprinkle on some chia seeds as well as cinnamon to taste! Enjoy!
- S cup to ½ cup milk (dairy, almond, coconut, soy)
- ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
- S cup to ½ cup yogurt (optional)
- 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
- ½ banana mashed
Serving suggestions: Fruit, nut butters, granola, coconut, nuts, spices, vanilla extract
Directions: Add the desired amounts of milk, oats, yogurt, chia seeds and banana to a jar or container and give them a good stir. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 5 hours.
In the morning, add additional liquid if you'd like. Once you achieve the desired consistency, top with fruit, nuts, nut butter, seeds, granola, coconut, spices, or vanilla extract.
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3 cups fresh spinach
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 2 cans of great northern or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- S cup pesto
- Optional toppings: Grated parmesan cheese
Directions: Stir together chicken stock, spinach, chicken, beans in a medium saucepan. Cook over high heat until the soup reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium, stir in the pesto, and let the soup continue to simmer for 2 minutes. Serve warm topped with parmesan cheese if desired.
*If you would like to make this vegetarian, take out the chicken and substitute with an extra can of beans of your choosing!
- 1 package(6oz) stuffing mix
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp favorite bbq sauce
- 1 lb ground beef, ground turkey, or meat ground substitute
- (beyond burger or impossible burger work well!)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine stuffing mix, water and 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Add meat/meat substitute; mix lightly but thoroughly. Press 1/3 cup mixture into each of 12 ungreased muffin cups. Bake, uncovered, until a thermometer reads 160°, 18-22 minutes. Sprinkle tops with cheese; bake until cheese is melted, 2-4 minutes longer. If desired, serve with additional barbecue sauce.
- ½ cup flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- [ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- S cup milk
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp pizza sauce
- 2 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
- Optional: any toppings you would like!
Directions: Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a microwavable bowl. Add in the milk and oil then mix together. There might be some lumps but that is ok. Spoon on the pizza sauce and spread it around the surface of the batter. Sprinkle on the cheese, and any additional toppings. Microwave for roughly 2 minutes or so, until it rises up and the toppings are bubbling. Enjoy straight away!
Easy dorm room winter-inspired meals can be a fun way to indulge your senses into the holiday season as well as nourish your body to get through all those end of semester exams! There’s something for everyone to enjoy!
By: WIT Volunteer, Amber Gunneson
The “Freshman 15” is a phrase I am sure most of us are familiar with. For anyone lucky enough to have never come across the “Freshman 15”, let me provide an explanation.
The “Freshman 15” is a widely held notion that freshmen gain 15 pounds once they come to campus due to getting less exercise, excessively drinking, and having unlimited access to campus food.
It is widely known and talked about, but most often used as an anecdote or joke. The first time I heard the phrase was during a campus tour when I was in high school. A representative for that University’s Admissions Department said something along the line of “We offer a large variety of options in our dining halls, and yes some are healthy options, so you can avoid gaining the Freshman 15.” Once I was in college I again heard jokes and comments being made about gaining weight. Staff and students both would make comments about hitting the gym to fight the “Freshman 15.” As a young person struggling with an unhealthy relationship with food and my body, my biggest fear was gaining the “Freshman 15” when I came to college. The use of the term and its negative effect on students is not limited solely to my experience. This phrase is used across the nation and research shows us that it negatively affects students on campuses all across the country.
Despite the innocuous nature of the phrase and the comments it was and is used in, the term is based on weight shame and fatphobia. It is rooted in the false notion that gaining weight is shameful and the discriminatory belief that a thin body is a better body. These negative messages, no matter how small, have the power to do real harm to students' mental health.
I am a graduating Senior in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, for my Senior Project I chose to create a podcast that zeroed in on the “Freshman 15” and illuminated the harms it can have to student health. I am passionate about showing students, their families, and university faculty and staff that this phrase has the power to do real harm.
The podcast is 3 episodes long, each with a different main focus. The first episode covers what “The Freshman 15” is, the history of its origins, and if it really even exists. It also covers why this term affects freshmen specifically and the unique stressors of the transition from high school to college. The second episode covers the stigma around weight and food in the US. I delve into the fatphobia embedded in our society and media and the harm it causes. The last episode covers the weight shame of the COVID-19 pandemic and how fatphobia harms us all. I also talk about the role of families and peers in body image and what we can all do to take care of each other and fight back against weight stigma. You can stream the podcast on Spotify, Check it out here!
We all have the power to fight fatphobia and weight shaming, not just for freshmen, but for everyone affected. This podcast is a tool for learning more about how the “Freshman 15” does harm and what we can do to spread body positivity/neutrality (read more on body neutrality in Camryn’s blog post here!) here on campus and also on social media, in our families, in our friend groups, and throughout our lives.
I hope you check out the podcast and learn that there is a lot more to that simple phrase “the Freshman 15” than you likely ever knew.
By: Eva VanWyck, WIT Peer Educator