By Shelby Santin, Dietetic Student at the University of Maryland
Recently, there has been a buzz of excitement around the University of Maryland as everyone is getting ready for spring break. Planning a vacation, studying for exams and balancing extra-curriculars is stressful enough; the pressure to lose weight and look good for spring break can be overwhelming.
This year instead of focusing on looking good, try making healthy changes that will help you feel good.
Here are some tips to feel good in time for spring break:
1. Work it out in a health way. Exercise has many more benefits than just burning calories. Working out can help reduce stress, increase energy levels and actually increase your self-esteem. Not sure where to start with an exercise routine? Consider signing up for personal training with Campus Recreation Services and create a workout plan with a certified trainer.
2. Small goals equal big results. Keep in mind that spring break is just around the corner. Picking a few small goals that are attainable is better than setting yourself up for failure. Perhaps you could aim to go to the gym 2 times per week or eat one more fruit or veggie each day. Making just a few healthy changes that are sustainable and realistic has the ability to make a big difference in your health – plus this approach gives you a well-deserved sense of accomplishment. If you need help deciding which nutrition goals are best for you, check out the free diet analysis offered through the University Health Center.
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Studies show that of all the changes you can make to your diet, increasing servings of fruits and vegetables has the biggest impact on your overall health. Eating more fruits and vegetables can decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases and some cancers.
4. Snack with a purpose. On a hunger scale of 1-10 it is a good idea to stay between a 3-7. This means that you should avoid feeling ravenously hungry or overly stuffed. That’s where snacking comes in. Eating in between meals can help prevent you from overeating at dinner or lunch and be in the right mindset to make good nutritional decisions throughout your day. Try keeping snacks on hand in your bag for when you get hungry in class or at work. For example, you can pack baby carrots, an apple, some pretzels or other easily transportable foods. Here are 12 healthy snack ideas that will keep you going >>
5. Keep portion control in mind. Any food can be part of a healthy diet in moderation. Carbohydrates are easy to overeat so, it is a good idea to eat them with a protein source because it will help you feel full faster. For example, try pairing pretzels with hummus or peanut butter.
6. Practice mindful eating. Eating mindfully means paying attention to what you are eating each day and not being distracted while you eat. For example, avoid eating while watching TV, driving or focusing on other tasks. This also means using intuitive eating, which is listening to your body’s hunger cues. Honor your hunger and eat when you’re hungry, but try to distinguish hunger from being bored or stressed. Here are 7 strategies for more mindful eating >>
7. Avoid fad diets. Every year around spring break, it feels like we are bombarded with advertisements for diets and exercise plans promising miraculous results. Often these fad diets can be dangerous to your health and don’t support healthy nutrition habits. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Establishing healthy practices takes conscious effort and a little patience.
How to spot a fad diet:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- It cuts out a whole food group.
- It is highly restrictive in calories or food choices.
- It does not take into account individual nutritional needs.
Avoid fad diets and instead spend the next several weeks treating your body healthfully and you will feel great come spring break.
How do you plan to feel good for spring break? Tell us in the comments below!