Nutritious Cooking Right in your Dorm Room

By: Ashley Statter, ’16, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

No fear, the freshman 15 is not inevitable! Eating healthy in a college dorm room is not as tough as it seems (and no, you do not need to eliminate the occasional late night pizza).

Adjusting to new living arrangements, running to classes, joining clubs, participating in Greek life, eating in the dining hall, and stressing over exams are all parts of college that tend to make people gravitate toward eating unhealthy food. While less nutritious food can be enjoyed on occasion, consistent unhealthy eating can make you feel sluggish and fatigued which can negatively impact your school work, social life, mental health, and physical health.

Here are a few tips for quick healthy meals that can be done right in your dorm room!

Step One


First, stock up your room with healthy food options. While the dining hall has lots of healthful options, it is good to be prepared for days when you have back to back classes and meetings and need to pack a lunch, or you simply do not feel like trekking to the dining hall.  A few affordable options that are available in convenience stores around campus include:

  • Frozen veggies/frozen fruits
  • Instant oatmeal, rice, quinoa or other whole grains of your choice that can prepared in a microwave
  • Hummus and nut butters
  • Apples, pears, oranges, bananas and other fruits that are easy to pack in your backpack for an on the go snack
  • Fiber rich granola bars
  • Low fat yogurt
  • Dried fruits
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Rice cakes, pretzels, and whole wheat crackers

Step 2


Next, make the microwave your friend! Here are a few recipes that require only a microwave or no cooking equipment at all!

  • Add an egg and/or microwavable frozen veggies to ramen or other instant soups to add protein and nutrients to this college staple.
  • Add a spoonful of nut butter and a banana to instant oatmeal for a protein packed breakfast that will keep you full all morning.
  • Add fresh or dried fruit and yogurt to whole grain cereal for a tangy treat.
  • Prepare microwave rice or quinoa and add frozen veggies and soy sauce for an easy dinner.
  • Dip carrots, celery, pretzels, or whole-wheat crackers in hummus for a satisfying snack.
  • Add nut butter and slices of apple or banana to rice cakes or whole wheat bread for a lunch or snack that you can pack on the go.
  • Make a yogurt parfait with low fat yogurt, low fat granola, and frozen berries for a sweet and crunchy snack or breakfast, with lots of calcium!

Step 3

Finally, if you’re really adventurous, here are some not so traditional ways to make some of your favorite foods.

Craving grilled cheese? Wrap a cheese sandwich in aluminum foil and iron it to melt the cheese and toast the bread! Add a tomato slice or some spinach and you can get a serving of vegetables in your diet too. The bread can also be replaced with a tortilla for a quick and easy quesadilla.

And if you have a coffee pot you are in for a real treat! From pasta, to soft-boiled eggs, and steamed vegetables, you can make a three-course meal just with this one simple kitchen device! Just make sure to clean it out before you brew a cup of joe! 

Healthy eating on a college campus can seem like a challenge, but by getting to know your resources it can be fun and easy! To learn more about healthy eating habits, reserve your session with a nutrition coach by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing



Posted in Nutrition, Physical Wellness, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Fat: Friend or Foe?

By: Rebecca Heming, ’18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator
Photo Credit: Rebecca Heming

Photo Credit: Rebecca Heming

In the past few years, fats have gotten a bad reputation and have been blamed for causing America’s obesity epidemic. The logic seems to make sense, right? Eat fat, get fat. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), it’s not nearly as simple as that – in fact, eating fat can actually help keep you from overeating and gaining weight! Surprised? Read on below!

Before we go too much further, though, it might be helpful to briefly cover cholesterol, which is heavily influenced by our diets and the fat we consume.

  • There are two forms of cholesterol – low density lipoproteins (LDL) & high density lipoprotein (HDL).
  • LDL cholesterol carries cholesterol to your body’s cells, including your arteries.
  • High levels of LDL cholesterol can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attacks.
  • HDL cholesterol carries cholesterol back to the liver for disposal.

There are several types of fats, some of which are healthier than others.

Less Healthy Fats

  • Saturated Fat
    • Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol, which is why it’s important we try to limit them.
    • Examples of foods with saturated fat include butter, bacon, cheese, and ice cream.
  • Trans Fat
    • The worst of the fats by far, trans fat, packs a double whammy – raising your LDL levels and total cholesterol while simultaneously decreasing your HDL levels.
    • Trans fats are formed by a process called hydrogenation, which can convert oils to solids.
    • Trans fat can be lurking in many different types of foods – frosting, cereal, crackers, cookies, microwaveable popcorn, and more.
    • Look for words such as hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or “shortening” in the ingredient list to determine if a product contains trans fats.

Healthier Fats

  • Unsaturated Fat
    • There are 2 types of unsaturated fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
    • Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 & omega-6 essential fatty acids, which are important for brain function and can help improve your mood.
    • Examples of unsaturated fats include avocados, nuts, seeds, canola oil, olive oil, fish, and tofu.

Five Reasons Fat is Fabulous

The Myth: Fat will make you gain weight.

The Fact: Fat won’t make you fat unless you consume too much fat – it actually helps you eat less by making you feel full and satisfied.

  1. Needed to absorb fat soluble vitamins
  2. Used in construction of cell membranes.
  3. Essential for brain development – brains are 60% fat
  4. Helps with blood clot formation and blood pressure regulation
  5. Makes food taste good

Ten Tips for Terps

  1. Try using vinaigrettes on salads
  2. Snack on nuts & seeds – find them at the food co-op and convenience stores on campus
  3. Use nut butters as dips or in sandwiches
  4. Eat more fish!
  5. Limit fried foods
  6. Watch your labels for trans fat – check ingredient lists for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil
  7. Choose fat free or reduced fat dairy products
  8. Buy lean meats – ideally those that are at least 90% lean
  9. Instead of red meat, try adding more skinless chicken, fish, eggs, or vegetarian sources of protein like lentils to your diet
  10. Reconsider buying fat-free items – often the fat is replaced with sugar and sometimes the fat-free version can be higher in calories than the regular version!

What are your favorite healthy fats? Tell us in the comments below!

To learn more about fats, reserve your session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or emailing


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You Belong at RecWell

By: Liana Stiegler, University Recreation & Wellness, Communications Assistant

The “You Belong at RecWell” video, released right before the beginning of fall semester, shouts out loud and clear to the UMD community:

The video features Active Terps of all different races, sexualities, and fitness preferences describing their experiences in the RecWell community. Each student has had a different RecWell experience. But whether their time is spent on the Rugby field or in the pool, teaching yoga class or supervising the weight room, they all agree that RecWell is a community where all Terps are welcome.

RecWell wants all Terps to “Rise Above”, as the video title suggests. But what does that mean?

Rise Above means rising above things that separate us rather than bring us together such as: fear, sexism, homophobia, shame, steoreotypes, differences, and assumptions. When we “Rise Above” these obstacles we are free to “Embrace”. We embrace values such as: respect, inclusion, diversity, unity.

Whether you are on a club team, play intramural sports, attend group fitness classes, go on adventure trips, or use the gym facilities, you are a part of the RecWell community.

Let’s take the Rise Above video’s message to heart- together, Active Terps can Rise Above and Embrace respect, inclusion, diversity, and unity!

What was your favorite message from the video?

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How to Survive UMD’s New Buffet Style Dining Plan

By: Emma  Slattery, ’18, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

First day on campus, you walk into the dining hall and are overwhelmed. Not by the weird new hand scanner that replaced swipe cards, but by the trays and trays of enticing food that are now serve yourself, and all-you-care-to-eat style.

Naturally you head to the nearest station, grab a plate, and pile it high with food. Before you know it you’re sitting with your friends, mindlessly eating everything on your plate and feeling stuffed. Despite feeling stuffed you go back for second or third servings because you can and it tastes so good!

It is incredibly common to overeat in a buffet style setting and the new Anytime Dining is essentially a buffet. However, there are strategies students can use to navigate and survive the new dining hall program without gaining unwanted weight or feeling like you need a nap after every meal!

  1. Think of what you want to eat and stick to your plan. Before you even step into the diner get an idea of what you want to eat. The food choices are overwhelming, especially if you are hungry, so if you decide on a burger beforehand, then it is easier to just take your burger and not whatever looks good in the moment.
  2. If you don’t know what you want, take a lap. By walking around the diner once, or even twice, before making a food choice you get to really see everything offered that day. You can make a more satisfying food choice that you’ll enjoy more than if you take the first thing you see.
  3. Begin with a starter.  Eating a small portion of salad, soup, or bowl of fruit before going back for your main meal will keep your hunger in control and allow you to make more nutritious choices.
  4. Follow the MyPlate guidelines. The MyPlate is a graphic model created by the my-plateUSDA on what a balanced meal looks like. Strive to build a plate that contains half fruits and veggies, a quarter grains, and a quarter protein. Balancing your food groups will make meals that keep you full longer and provide adequate nutrition.
  5. Take a smaller portion. The diner is all you can eat, so take a small portion of food, eat it slowly and mindfully, and if you still want more you can always go back for more.
  6. When choosing sweets, eat them at the end of the meal. Eating dessert at the end of a meal helps with portion control. Since you already have a meal’s worth of food in your stomach to satiate you, you are able to be satisfied with less.

Using these tips will help you to make nutritious choices in the dining hall as well as keep you from being overwhelmed by the abundance of delicious food! To learn more strategies to eat well on campus, take advantage of the free Nutrition Coaching Service at the University Health Center. To reserve your session, call 301-314-5664 or email

Posted in Nutrition, Physical Wellness | 5 Comments

Rediscover the Joy of Being Outdoors

By Diana Curtis, University Recreation & Wellness Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer


Hey you! Yes you! That person with their head stuck in a book. When was the last time you went outside? And no, I don’t mean to walk to your next class. I mean when was the last time you took a breath of fresh air, enjoyed nature, or felt the breeze in your hair – and not because you were running late. When did you last let your mind carelessly wander into unknown places? Can’t remember? That is probably because we forget how much joy simply being outdoors can bring us.

Just a few minutes spent outside is enough for me to feel rejuvenated.

When I step out into those brisk mornings that are quickly coming upon us, the splash of fresh air makes me ready to take on the day. But if you you hate mornings, no problem! Take time to feel the sun on your face in the afternoon. Take a weekend trip and get lost in the woods or on a lake. Try something new and don’t be afraid to get dirty!

I’ve found that the closer I am to nature, the happier I tend to be.

It’s easy with school just starting and all your extracurricular activities piling up to say that you don’t have enough time to just stop and smell the roses, but making time for ourselves is essential. Being outdoors is a remedy that can cure even the worst cases of stress. And who can’t think of an activity they love to do in perfect fall weather?

Think back to when you were a kid. Before all of these phones and computers, we were jumping in piles of leaves, digging in the dirt, and scraping up our knees. We were learning what it was like to make our own adventures.

We were proving that the happiness that comes from being outdoors is only limited by the amount of time we are willing to leave the indoors.

Still not convinced to put down that book? Then grab a friend! You may just be saving them from the same stress that is building inside of you. The possibilities are endless; and by the time you make your way back to the books, chances are, you will be surprised at how much happier and content you feel. Maybe that problem you have been stuck on or that paper that doesn’t have one word written yet will suddenly flow from your fingertips like a waterfall onto the page. Or maybe you will tell someone about your adventures and inspire them.

Let’s all rediscover the joy that comes from spending time outside and unplugged.

And maybe you will walk into your classroom one day and realize everyone is a little happier and maybe a little more sunburnt (wear that SPF, y’all!).

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5 Healthy Habits for Healthy Terps!

By: Jocelyn Jaye, University Recreation & Wellness Group Fitness Instructor

College is a great time to start building healthy habits we’ll carry with us long after graduation. Here are 5 simple healthy habits that have made a difference in my life that you might consider incorporating into yours. I think you’ll find they add up to make a big difference in your health and well-being!


  1. Wake up 20 minutes earlier. 

    Plan for the day! Giving yourself a few extra minutes in the early AM allows you to prepare for the day ahead. Maybe indulge in some meal prepping, savor that hot cup of coffee, or simply make sure that you have all your supplies for the day. The worst thing is arriving to your first class, only to realize that you forgot your calculator or laptop because you were rushing out the door.

    And, oh my gosh, please eat breakfast. If you do nothing else, eat some food in the morning. This still applies even if you had a midnight Slices run and you feel bloated and gross. Some OJ, a banana, or even a piece of toast with avocado are all light, healthy options to get your system moving.

    Statistics show that eating breakfast not only gives you energy for the day, but it can even boost your academic performance. A study conducted at Blinn College in Texas found that 72.7% of the students who passed their General Biology exam had eaten breakfast. Only 50.8% of students who had not eaten breakfast passed the exam (Phillips 2005). Get your brain and body ready for the day by firing up your digestion.

  1. Move before noon! 

    Wake up your body with some movement! My absolute favorite way to start the day is with a short jog somewhere nice. The world is quiet, the sun is rising, and Route One is not yet buzzing with morning commuter traffic. There is something so magical about being a part of the new day. If that seems a little too intense for our night owls, some simple stretches or even a few jumping jacks are a great way to get your blood flowing. Sun Salutations, anyone?

    Did you know that exercising in the morning can actually provide you with more energy throughout the day? This is because exercises stimulates the development of new mitochondria in your cells. Mitochondria work to produce ATP, or energy. Not only is mitochondria production increased in your muscles, but also in your brain (Steiner 2011)!

    Now, I love coffee as much as the next person and, though there are countless controversies over whether or not the sacred bean is actually good for us, anything in too large of quantities can be harmful. Before reaching for the coffee, try out some exercise! If you still feel like taking a nap afterwards, grab some café!

  1. Set a bedtime… and actually stick to it. 

    I know, I know … we aren’t 12 anymore and it sounds lame, but we are kind of adults now and it is our own responsibility to log off and get some sleep. It is SO easy to stay up until 2am every night watching Netflix, but Netflix is not going to drag your sorry booty to your 8am class the next day. Part of our college experience is developing a sense of responsibility, which means setting boundaries.

  1. Do NOT over schedule yourself!

    Speaking of boundaries, create some for your schedule! Yes, you could do everything… BUT you probably wouldn’t be feeling your best if you did. It is OK to say “no” to things that either (1.) you really do not want to do, or (2.) really do not fit in your schedule. Someone else will do these things. I promise. The world will go on. I promise. It doesn’t always have to be you. Your health and well-being is your number one priority. Always.

  1. Plan time for fun and relaxation. 

    You heard me right. TREAT YO-SELF. Okay, seriously though, you are going to need some sort of outlet from class, studying, your job, clubs, sports, etc. Instead of spending both weekend nights stuck in McKeldin, leave an hour earlier, take a hot bath, and listen to your favorite music. De-stressing is just as important for productivity as being stressed.

    If hot baths aren’t your thing, spend quality time with your friends! Go indulge in some dinner activities (or some post-dinner activities) with people you enjoy being around. Forget about your Microbio exam for a few hours and just enjoy yourself! After all, we are human beings, not robots, and we cannot work all the time. Work hard. Relax hard. You deserve it.

There you have it – 5 simply healthy habits to incorporate into your daily life. What healthy habit would you add to this list?


Posted in Emotional Wellness, Keep Calm and Stress Less | Leave a comment

An Open Letter to Depression

Just a note, this letter may be tough to read – especially if you feel like you could write your own letter to depression or know someone who could. If this resonates with you, don’t hesitate to reach out and seek help. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. And there are lots of resources on campus to help – including the Mental Health Service at the University Health Center and free therapy sessions at the Counseling Center. You can also call the HELP Center at 301-314-HELP – a hotline where you can talk to a trained peer counselor about whatever may be troubling you.

an openletter todepression (2)

Dear Depression,

I wish you would crawl in a hole and die. Because that’s what you make me feel like doing.

I wish you would show up on my skin like acne does so that people would know you are real and not an excuse I am making up so I don’t have to get out of bed in the morning.

You too, Anxiety, stop being so invisible and intangible so that people can understand why I have these conversations in my head and why I can’t fall asleep because you are making my heart beat mile a minute and making me fear and hold on to silly things that won’t really matter in a month.

And quit it with the negativity.

Stop making me feel inadequate; like I am failing now and will fail at everything I pursue in the future. Stop telling me I will flunk out of graduate school and that I don’t even deserve my acceptance.

Stop holding me back.

Maybe if you moved out of my brain as I have been asking you to for years there would be room for better study habits, for focus and an attention span that doesn’t get interrupted by the constant message of: “YOU CANNOT DO THIS.”

Just STOP. Stop telling me that everything is going wrong.

Stop telling me that I won’t make it to 30 because I have no purpose and I won’t be able to handle life when I leave the shelter of my university.

Why do you make looking into the future turn into a full blown anxiety attack? Stop making me downplay everything I accomplish with explanations that it was handed to me or that anyone can do it. Stop acting like a shield and deflecting any compliment I get as a lie or a nicety.

And for the love of god, leave my body alone. It is what is, stop trying to convince me that everyone is judging it, they really don’t care.

Get out of my eyes, making me cringe at my reflection and spend the day in self-loathing reflecting on my lack of will power, wishing I could be anorexic again.

I refuse to believe you that people only like me when I’m uncomfortably thin and wasting away.

And you know what, you can turn off the shower. Don’t expect me to get into it, sit on the floor and cry like before, wondering what the hell is wrong with me and why I feel so hopeless and  purposeless and so unwanted – even when on paper my life is pretty blessed.

We’re over. I’m turning you in. I’m going to stop blaming headaches, cramps, or being too busy on why I can’t leave the house or why I am just plain incapable of smiling today.

Why should I hide you? Why should anyone hide you?

You are a bully and life-wrecker. Why is it so stigmatized to rat you out. There are drugs and therapy to treat you.

You are REAL.

It’s out now. You’re depression. You’re anxiety. You’re a wrecked body image. You’re out in the open and …

I hope everyone sees you for what you are: a treatable mental health condition.

Good riddance,

Posted in Emotional Wellness | 1 Comment