5 Surprising Thanksgiving Foods You Can Feel Good About Eating

By: Caitlin Smith ’16, University Health Center, Nutrition Peer Educator

It’s that time of year again; the holiday season is upon us. In my opinion, this is the most beautiful time of year, it’s as if the sky becomes painted more vividly, the air becomes a little crisper, and then there’s the FOOD.

Image used under the Creative Commons license from Flickr user Tim Stackton.

Image used under the Creative Commons license from Flickr user Tim Stackton.

Pumpkin everything for starters, and apple pie, stuffing, cornbread, candied sweet potatoes, and that’s just to name a few of my personal favorites… For each holiday, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas, I have the fondest memories of putting on my best holiday attire and attending our traditional family gatherings. This was one of the only times my large family could all get together catch up, enjoy each other’s company, joke, laugh, love and FEAST. So, each year as October comes and goes I get more and more anxious for the reuniting of my family and favorite holiday foods.

However, this time of year makes some people anxious for other reasons. A lot of people don’t have such a positive correlation with the holidays. All of the food can send people’s minds into overdrive trying to figure out how they can navigate it all while sticking to a healthy nutrition plan.

If people do allow themselves some of their favorite holiday treats, as they should, they feel immense guilt and immediately begin to ponder what they can do to “make up” for it or they will restrict all day to “save their calories”.

Well, I’m here to explain that there is no reason for all of this guilt by introducing the top five thanksgiving foods that you can feel good about eating. These are all foods with an abundance of nutrients that your taste buds and your body will thank you for eating.

Nutrient Packed Thanksgiving Goodies

  1. Candied sweet potatoes. I come from a family with southern roots so, this is what we call this delicious side dish. But, whether you refer to it as candied sweet potatoes, sweet potato casserole, or just plain old sweet potatoes – this is one of those dishes you just should not skip this holiday season. My family makes these with marshmallows, butter and brown sugar, and your family may have similar practices but that does not mean this isn’t a food you can feel good about! The benefits of the actual sweet potato far outweigh the less healthy preparation. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. And if you are really adverse to the extra goodness that comes with the added sweets and butter, simply go for the plain sweet potato, it alone can satisfy almost any sweet tooth.
  2. Turkey. This bird makes a debut at all of my family holidays and since I’m not big on red meat, I wouldn’t have it any other way. With all he has to offer, you shouldn’t be shy of having him on your plate either! Turkey is a lean protein source and contains lots of iron! Go for the dark meat if you’re interested in boosting up your iron a bit.
  3. Apple pie. There’s no way eating this is going to give you enough health benefits to make you feel good about eating it, right? WRONG! Don’t skip this fruit-filled dessert. With as many apples as most apples pies have, it’s almost like eating fruit for dessert! It’s also often lower in calories than many other more pastry-like desserts. Like it á la mode? Use low-fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream
  4. Deviled eggs. This is an appetizer I always look forward to seeing. They are delicious and certainly nutritious. Eggs are the gold standard of protein and they usually only have about one gram of saturated fat, depending on the amount of mayonnaise used. Eggs are more than just a great source of protein; they contain an abundance of other essential vitamins and minerals.
  5. Green Bean Casserole. This dish has made a few appearances at holiday functions in my family. This little green vegetable is nutritious any way it is prepared. It is packed with vitamins and even has some fiber. If you really don’t like the crunchy fried onions on top of most green bean casseroles, just kick them to the side.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and remember – the point of a holiday is to celebrate, so don’t get so caught up in counting calories or trying to maintain a stringent eating regimen. Give yourself a break and enjoy all that there is to offer.

You can also sign up for a free diet analysis at the health center for more strategies on holiday eating.


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Food Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

By: Jessica Ivy ’15, University Health Center, Nutrition Peer Educator

The holiday season is one full of family, football, and of course – food!

With so many cooks in the kitchen, it is also a season full of germs. One of the worst feelings is to be stuck in bed while your family enjoys a warm holiday meal without you.

Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Foodborne illnesses can usually be prevented if the right steps are taken. When you’re getting ready to cook, keep the following in mind.

Food Safety Tips

  1. Wash your hands often. Scrub a dub dub! Wash your hands and forearms before you begin to handle food, and wash them after working with raw meat, eggs and other potentially contaminated products.
  2. Don’t cross contaminate cutting boards. Make sure you use a different cutting board to chop vegetables than you use to chop meat. Bacteria can get stuck in the crevices of cutting boards and contaminate future food items.
  3. Keep your countertops clean. Make sure they are sanitized before placing food on them. Avoid placing purses and bags on the counter, as they carry a wide range of bacteria and other germs. Wipe down the countertops when you are done.
  4. Use a meat thermometer.: Ensure meat is heated all the way through to the recommended internal temperature.
  5. Thaw meat properly. When defrosting meat, cover it, and place it in the refrigerator (temp below 40 F). If time is tight, you can thaw it in the microwave. NEVER leave frozen meat on the counter to thaw.
  6. Don’t consume raw eggs. When baking cookies or other desserts, resist the urge to dip your finger in the batter. Raw eggs might contain harmful bacteria that could lead to food poisoning.

Laws of Leftovers

So what happens after the feast?

Typically, big family meals end with leftovers. Do you ever wonder how long something will last in your fridge before it goes bad? First, make sure perishable food is not left out for more than two hours before it is stored in the fridge.

Follow these guidelines for how long food can last in your fridge before tossing it.

  • Cooked vegetables: 3-4 days
  • Cooked pasta: 3-5 days
  • Cooked rice: 1 week
  • Cooked poultry: 3-4 days
  • Stuffing: 1-2 days

If you’re not sure how long something has been in the fridge, abide by this easy mantra: when in doubt, throw it out!

Finally, if you have questions about food safety or any other nutrition issues, make a diet analysis appointment to meet with a knowledgeable peer educator.

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16 Reasons Terps Exercise That Have Nothing To Do With Looking Better

By: Alicia McElhaney and Kate Maloney, Campus Recreation Services

We all know that regular exercise offers a ton of health benefits. But sometimes the joy of working out can be overshadowed by our desire to lose weight, bulk up, negate the calories we’ve eaten, or just generally change the way our bodies look.

While the goal of altering our bodies can be a powerful and positive motivator, harboring negative thoughts and perceptions about our bodies can wreak havoc on our self-esteem – and actually derail our fitness plan.

Allow us to suggest an entirely different way of thinking about the “why” behind working out: work out for the way it makes your body feel rather than how it makes your body look.

Here are just a few of the reasons that Terps choose to exercise that have nothing to do with physical appearance …

1. Lifts mood






Elle Woods was right on when she said exercise gives you endorphins. Working out releases chemicals in your brain that can give you a natural mood boost. Don’t you feel happier after some time spent being active?

2. Sharpens memory











Take a study break from drilling flash cards and give your memory a boost by heading to the gym! That’s right; aerobic exercise (think group fitness classes like Zumba, HIIT or high-energy cycling) can actually increase the size of the hippocampus - the part of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning.

3. Boosts immune system








Avoid the flu and cold (and even dodge the viral meningitis spreading around campus) this winter without dousing yourself in sanitizer. Boost your immune system sans chemicals by getting regular physical activity. Not to mention, being active can also prevent big-time diseases like osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

4. Improves learning abilities

learning abilities










Beyonce knows it, and now, so do you! Getting down to some of your favorite Queen B tracks in Hip Hop Shake class can actually help you out in your other classes, too. Professor doesn’t believe it? Bring him or her along with you next time and show off your moves. We can’t guarantee it’ll score you any extra credit though …

5. Builds self-esteem

self esteem












Because who couldn’t use a good self-esteem boost, amiright? Taking charge of your wellness with proactive action can make you feel like you can do just about anything. And give yourself an extra pat on the back for trying something entirely new – maybe a new piece of weight equipment or a group class in the Functional Training Studio. Feeling good about yourself is one just one workout away!

6. Keeps your brain fit













We know this concept of boosting your brain and learning capabilities has already made an appearance or two on this list, but seriously – what can’t fitness do for your brain? We can’t say it enough. Think of exercise as a workout for your body AND your mind.

7. Keeps your body able to do what you want to do

Love to run, backpack, or just want to feel good about taking Stamp hill instead of the elevator shortcut? Make physical activity a regular part of your everyday life and you’ll be able to keep moving and doing what you love – even as you age.

8. Improves mental health

mental health







Big smiles all around on this one. While fitness can’t exactly cure depression or anxiety, it is a great tool to use to prevent and manage symptoms. Physical activity can be a beneficial part of a plan to help you feel better – combined with any therapy or treatment from a professional. We also strongly recommend our friends over at the Counseling Center and Mental Health Services. Just like working out, seeking help is a sign of strength, too!

9. Reduces stress








Bathrooms in our residence halls may not be conducive to soaking in a bubble bath, and I’m pretty sure candles are against policy – but you can check out one of our stress-relieving yoga classes to release some of that tension. In fact, nearly any kind of physical activity can help you de-stress.

10. Helps you sleep better









Want a good night of sleep? (Yes, that is actually a thing.) Work out during the day to get some solid Zzzz’s at night! Exercise can increase the length and quality of your sleep - leaving you refreshed and energized to tackle the day ahead. You got this.

11. Improves flexibility









Increasing flexibility is worth more than showing off that you can touch your toes – flexibility helps us do everyday activities with greater ease, like getting out of bed or cleaning our apartments. Most kinds of physical activity and stretching will boost flexibility, but Pilates and Yoga are especially effective if your goal is to become a bit more bendy.

12. Boosts productivity









Feel like you just can’t stop procrastinating? It may seem obvious, but productivity begets more productivity. By getting up and getting moving, it will be easier to propel yourself forward to get that paper done. Exercising in the middle of a work day (or school day) has been shown to boost work performance and time management abilities.

13. Helps you think more creatively












Feeling stuck on an assignment or looking to replenish your well of inspiration for a piece of creative writing? You just might find a new way to approach your project after a workout. Being active in the outdoors seems to be particularly good for getting the creative juices flowing. Check out the opportunities the Maryland Adventure Program offers to get outside – including affordable weekend trips to go hiking, kayaking, climbing, and more.

14. Increases strength.









There’s no denying that building muscle – whether you can see it or not – is an awesome benefit of exercise. No need to ask for help lifting heavy boxes or opening difficult jars – you and your exercise program have got this, thank you very much!

15. Improves sex drive & satisfaction








Exercise offers both physiological and psychological benefits to our sex lives. Working out  increases blood flow, boosting sexual arousal for men and women and making sex more pleasurable. And like we mentioned before, exercise enhances our mood and gives us confidence which can make the idea of having sex seem a bit more exciting!

16. Gives you more energy








We know exercise might be the last thing you want to do when you feel worn out – but it really will help you feel more alert and energized. And you don’t need a high-intensity workout to reap the benefits – in fact, low impact workouts (like a 20-minute leisurely walk across campus) has been shown to be just as effective as high intensity workouts at alleviating fatigue.

What would you add to this list? What motivates you to work out besides “looking better”?

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Kevin Levi-Goerlich: The IronTerp

By Laura Gonzalez ’15, Campus Recreation Services, Communication Assistant

Few Terps can say they have completed an Ironman and fewer can say they finished first place when they did it. Senior, kinesiology major, Kevin Levi-Goerlich can.


He placed first in his age group in the Lake Placid, NY, Ironman competition that qualified him to compete in the 2014 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Ironman World Championship this past October.

“Crossing the finish line and knowing I had made it triggered a huge emotional reaction,” Levi-Goerlich said, “It was such a hard day that I had to truly fight to get to the finish line.”

His first encounter with the Ironman triathlon occurred as it does for many­: with the annual NBC coverage after the Ironman World Championship. The race organized by the World Triathlon Corporation consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bicycle ride and a 26.2 mile marathon run.

“I never thought about competing in Ironman, but found the idea of pushing myself to the limit intriguing,” Levi-Goerlich said.

When he came to UMD, he joined Maryland Triathlon and began competing whenever he could. Now, he balances full-time student status, part-time employment, being Vice President of the triathlon club, being a member of the Campus Recreation Advisory Board (CRAB) and competitive athlete training.

His intensive athletic training consists of 15 – 25 hours of working out per week. During the 11 months leading up to the world championship, Levi-Goerlich completed four rides, runs and swims and two strength and conditioning workouts per week.

He joined the triathlon club as a freshman and was president for 18 months prior to his current position of vice president.

“Some of my best friends have been made through triathlon club,” Levi-Goerlich said, “Through the hours spent on the bike, in the pool and running we see each other at our best and worse. This brings us together as teammates.”

After graduation this spring Levi-Goerlich plans to attend the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore and complete the Doctor of Physical Therapy program there. His love for triathlons will no doubt be incorporated in the next chapter of his life.

Curious about the sport of triathlon? Learn more about why you should TRI it out!

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Try a Tri! 3 Sports. Countless Reasons to TRI it.

By: Jennifer Macko ’16, Campus Recreation Services, Group Fitness Instructor

Triathlon. Break it down: tri – three, athlon – athletic competition.

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If you’ve never heard of the sport or you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, I want you to picture this:

You’re splashing into a lake, surrounded by fellow competitors in swim caps and goggles, dragging your legs through the turbulent water until it’s deep enough to swim. You get a rhythm going in your stroke, gliding through the waves and sliding over athletes suited in slick black wetsuits. Occasionally you sight in the distance and see your destination dock growing closer.

Before you know it, you’re pulling your seaweed-covered body out of the water and dashing to “T1”, (transition 1) simultaneously pulling off your wetsuit and finding your bike. Under your suit, you are already wearing your kit, red, gold, and black repping the Terrapins, obviously. On goes your helmet, bike shoes, and shades and you’re off to cruise through a 25-mile bike ride.

You soar down the hill, getting “aero” then zoom up the next climb, standing out of the saddle to power to the top. You fuel up on Gu shots and electrolytes, and by the time you’ve dried off from the swim, you roll into “T2”.

Off go the bike shoes and helmet and on go your running shoes. Every attempt to find a clip is an immense effort; your legs feel like bricks. But soon, you find your stride, sweat beading on your forehead as you smile at the cheering onlookers who ring cowbells and wave signs to “Keep going!” and telling you “You’ve got this!” The inspiration and adrenaline coursing through your veins push you to the last stretch of your 10-mile run, the final leg of the triathlon.

You see the finish line, crowded with friends and family, and you forget about the tiredness in your body. You could go forever. You fly through the finish, glancing at your time as you throw your hands up in celebration.

This is Triathlon. It is full day of fitness, fun, friends and family.

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If you are an athlete looking to branch out, someone looking to get in shape by working towards a goal, or just a student looking to find friends in a SUPER healthy outlet, I highly encourage you to check out this spectacular sport.

10 Reasons to Try a Tri

  1. Bragging rights!
  2. To meet new people
  3. To find your comfort zone… and break right out of it!
  4. To add variety to your workout – triathlon makes for very well-rounded athletes
  5. To surprise and amaze yourself!
  6. To have something to train for
  7. To eat copious amounts of food after racing/training
  8. For awesome medals and t-shirts
  9. To enhance your sense of physical wellness
  10. To have fun!!!

Getting Started

  • Start out with a “sprint” distance.
    • This is 750 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike, and 5K run
    • People of all shapes, sizes, and experience can complete this race and have a great time
    • It takes about 90 to 120 minutes to complete
  • Get a bike.Road-style is recommended, but you can get by with anything in a sprint
  • Learn to swim. Be able to swim for at least 30 minutes with confidence.
  • Run a 5K! Chances are, if you can run a 5K at all, you will be able to run one, a little slower, to end your race.


Check out the Maryland Triathlon Club. We train together 1-6 times a week and we get HUGE discounts on races and “tri swag” including Maryland kits!


Train on your own with a friend or family member. You can do your first triathlon together and share this awesome experience!

But, don’t just take my word for it. Some fellow tri club members shared with me their experiences in the sport:

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Kate McGinnis

“I joined triathlon club because I had always been running but started to get bored only running. When I went to the first Saturday morning bike ride, I was nervous because I didn’t know anyone and didn’t know if I could keep up with everyone. I quickly realized everyone was just as hungover as me and had an awesome time meeting everyone.

My favorite memory with the team was at Ironman MD cheering on Meredith (Wilson). It’s easy to get caught up on shaving off seconds in transition or setting a PR, but it’s volunteering at races and cheering your friends on when you realize what an amazing, supportive community is behind every triathlon. It’s also nice because I had a group of friends who liked to/needed to eat as much as I do.” – Kate McGinnis ’15


“I’m not quite sure I had a single specific reason for trying triathlon, but I wanted a new challenge. I had a competitive running background and years of cycling recreationally, so swimming was the only new sport (though with more than enough difficulty!)

One of my favorite memories was in the Monticelloman Triathlon, when there was a huge down hill adjacent to a beautiful farm field with bales of rolled hay, just cruising down the hill and looking at the scenery.” – Tammy Walsky ’15


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Meredith Wilson

“I would say I started out doing tri because I got super bored of just running and wanted to add some variety to my workout routine. I found out about it after seeing someone with an Maryland Tri shirt on my freshman year and I bought my road bike the following summer. My favorite experience was definitely the ironman. The crazy amounts of people that came out from it and the people that you see along the course (80 year olds with cancer, people with physical handicaps, whether they were blind or amputees, etc) was super inspiring. To me, it’s obvious that the Ironman and Triathlon itself is about more than just yourself. Obviously a sense of accomplishment feels great, but that’s not what keeps you going when your feet are dragging and you don’t want to move another inch. That’s why I love it so much.” -Meredith Wilson ’15

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5 Breakfasts That Will Take You Less Than 2 Minutes

By: Taylor Chan, ’16, University Health Center, Nutrition Peer Educator


“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

This is a phrase that has been ingrained into our brains since day one. However as our schedules fill up, eating breakfast has become easy to overlook as we jump out of bed and run straight to class.

There are so many benefits that we miss out on when we forget to eat breakfast:

  • “Breakfast” indicates that we are quite literally “breaking the fast” that our body endures while we sleep. Eating breakfast allows us to re-energize our body and kick start our metabolism for the day.
  • Breakfast refuels your brain! Breakfast can improve concentration and memory, thus helping you focus  better in class and while studying.
  • Nutritionally, breakfast is a great way to consume extra nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in order to achieve a more overall balanced diet.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be a hassle. Here are some great, nutritious breakfast ideas that take less than two minutes to prepare!

  • Apples, bananas, and oranges are quick portable fruits that you can eat on your way to class. Make it a habit to pick one up from the Diner after eating dinner the night before, and then packing it in your backpack! This way, it will be ready to go with you when you leave the next morning.
  • Yogurt is cheap to buy in bulk, and it doesn’t expire quickly, making it a great breakfast option to keep in your fridge at all times. It’s also easy to eat on the go, or subtly while in class. Pair it with some granola, chocolate chips, and/or fresh fruit for some added texture and flavor. A variety of flavors can be found at convenience shops around campus.
  • Instant oatmeal will be there to warm you up before you head out into the cool, brisk morning air. Oatmeal is a versatile food that can be tailored to anyone’s taste preferences. There are so many different flavor options available, or you can experiment with your own concoctions by adding fresh or dried fruit, cinnamon, honey, nuts…the possibilities are endless.
  • Whole wheat bread and peanut butter is a dynamite combo that will leave you feeling satisfied all the way through lunch. Make it into a sandwich with a sliced banana or apple, and sprinkle on some cinnamon for a delicious alternative. The Diner has a great PB&J sandwich station where you can quickly make a sandwich the night before. Bonus: no refrigeration required.
  • Scrambled eggs in the microwave is a technique that every college student should know. Yes, this is a real thing! Scramble two eggs in a mug or microwavable bowl, add two tablespoons of milk, some salt and pepper, and then microwave the eggs for two minutes, stirring the mixture every 15 seconds. If you’re you want to take it a step further, add cheese, diced veggies, or bacon to add great flavor and extra nutrients to your breakfast.

These breakfasts are simple, yet effective, and will ensure that every day is a great day!

If you would like more information about how to incorporate quick, healthy breakfasts into your busy schedule, consider making an appointment for a free diet analysis at the Health Center! Call  301-314-5664 for more information.

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5 Benefits of Fitness Tracking: GymQ and You

By: Laura Gonzalez ’15, Campus Recreation Services, Communication Assistant

We all know working out is good for us. It offers many long and short term wellness benefits – including simply feeling better and having more energy for daily life. Yet, despite all the benefits, only 20 percent of American adults meet minimum the CDC’s physical activity guidelines.

The truth is, it’s easy to lose your motivation to sustain a consistent workout routine in college and can be especially hard to maintain momentum when you don’t track your progress.

The good news is that this university is one of the fittest colleges in America and offers a wealth of resources you can use to get fit!

Earlier this month, we introduced one of these resources — GymQ, a fitness tracking app created by Terp innovators Kevin Chang ’15 and Connie Li ’15. GymQ eliminates the need to bring extra materials to the gym and streamlines the fitness tracking process.

Learn how to get started with Gym Q>>

Using this app will get you invested in your physical fitness and encourage you to push yourself further. As you log your workouts within the app, you’ll see the progress you have made through data visualizations such as charts and graphs.

How a smartphone can benefit your health >>

Screen shots from the GymQ app.

Screen shots from the GymQ app.

GymQ, and fitness tracking in general, will help you to:

  • Make informed decisions about what to do next. You see through progress tracking that you squatted 125 pounds easily all week; it might be time to step it up to 135 pounds. Feel the burn.
  • Form healthy habits. You’ll have hard proof that you’ve been to the gym three times this week. We’re impressed, and you should be too! Now, keep it up.
  • Sustain motivation. It’s easy to say you’ll go to the gym the morning after a trip to the newest Rt. One pizza place, but with GymQ you’ll have a reason to keep coming back.
  • Measure effectiveness of your exercise regime over time. If you’ve been consistently working out and haven’t noticed improvement or progress towards your goals, you might benefit from a little extra motivation. Don’t give up; we offer personal trainers and fitness orientations to encourage and teach you.

Download the GymQ app for free download from the iTunes store.

How will you incorporate GymQ into your wellness routine? Let us know in the comments below. Happy tracking!

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