Healthy UNH Blogger: Courtney Eaton, All Entries

Why Cadbury Chocolate Tastes Like Victory

Monday, August 5, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

When most people think of good chocolate they think of Belgium and Switzerland, but England should not be forgotten! England is home of Cadbury chocolate! The creamiest chocolate I have ever tasted. You know those little Cadbury eggs you get in your Easter basket? They’re so tasty! They are from England and here in England, Cadbury eggs are sold year round. It’s fantastic! Brits can all agree that there is no chocolate but Cadbury chocolate.

The chocolate that we think of today was not always in a bar form. It originated from the hot chocolate beverage, made from real cocoa powder. John Cadbury worked in the coffee and tea industry. As it turns out, cocoa was in quite a different league than coffee and tea at the time, because Parliament had placed a hefty tax on cocoa so only the wealthy were able to afford it, making the market quite small. In 1832 the Liberal party slashed the high taxes on foreign goods including cocoa, allowing John Cadbury took to further his research in making chocolate creamier and accessible to more consumers.

Cocoa on its own is quite acidic and thus not palatable for most people. Milk acts as a buffer to the acidity of cocoa, creating that delicious creamy taste we all love in our hot chocolate today. In 1727, an Englishman named Nicholas Sanders thought of adding milk to chocolate. Sanders had not perfected the process so many years later, John Cadbury borrowed his idea and attempted to perfect it. Meanwhile, Sir Hans Sloane developed a recipe that mastered the art of adding cocoa to milk. John Cadbury caught wind of this and teamed up with Sloane to create deliciously creamy hot chocolate that nearly all consumers could afford. It is interesting to note that Sloane Square here in London is named after this influential chocolate pioneer. You can see how important chocolate is to the English.

The next project was determining how this cocoa could be made into a bar for a portable, ready to eat treat. Cadbury’s rival, Fry and Sons had created a dark chocolate bar in 1847 but it was not perfect. It was crumbly and had a bitter taste which many consumers found distasteful. John Cadbury knew he could build off of their mistakes. The issue with making milk chocolate in a bar is creating a proportional mixture of cocoa butter and milk that allows them to mix together because they have a tendency to separate. Cocoa butter is what “gives chocolate bars their magic” says John Bradley, author of Cadbury’s Purple Reign. Rudolphe Lindt invented a process called “conching” in 1879 which basically mixes the milk and the cocoa butter at a high temperature for a day or two. Conching makes the chocolate smooth as well as ridding the chocolate of the volatile flavors.  While Cadbury was continuing their experiments, a Swiss confectioner named Henri Nestlé created the first milk chocolate bar. This was not the best quality chocolate bar because it was crumbly, like the dark chocolate bar of Fry and Sons. Cadbury did not take this as a win for Nestlé, but more of a push for them to perfect the flaws of the Nestlé recipe. George Cadbury, the son of John Cadbury, was a chemist who discovered that fresh full cream creates the best tasting chocolate as well as the smoothest. He used cream from British pastures within a fifty mile radius of Birmingham, where Cadbury was experimenting. They used this as a marketing device when they first advertized the chocolate bar. In 1897, Cadbury had finally created a smooth and creamy milk chocolate bar. By 1904 the recipe was settled and plans for building a chocolate factory were underway. Unfortunately the Swiss’ sales were still a great deal ahead of little Cadbury, but they did not let this discourage them. They had made it this far after all! After many years of perfecting the recipe and their marketing strategies, Cadbury is now one of the world’s leading confectionary companies. In the UK, Cadbury chocolate is considered the definitive chocolate brand. They worked hard and deserve the respect and fame they have gained. You can taste the perfection in every bite. Cadbury chocolate is by far the creamiest chocolate I have ever tasted. I even went to Belgium and thought Cadbury was better than the chocolate there!

Tagged In: Cadbury, chocolate, cocoa powder, Courtney Eaton, creamy, England, Healthy UNH, history, John Cadbury, travel abroad

The Lack of Recycling in London

Friday, July 26, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

I love almost everything about London, but what I don’t love is their lack of recycling. It is impossible to find a recycling bin at Regent’s College, where I currently study. Quite frankly it breaks my heart. Throughout the city you can find them, but they are not nearly as common as they are in Durham or even Boston for that matter. There is really only a bin for bottles and it looks exactly like the “rubbish” bin next to it. I had to swat my friend’s trash out of her hand once when she almost put it in the recycling bin. If she almost did it, I can imagine there are quite a few people who throw rubbish in the recycling bin without as much as glancing over to see which one it was. This leads me to believe that the city recycles very few bottles from these facilities. In addition to the lack of recycling, it seems like once the sun goes down, the trash comes out. There are piles and piles of them that seem to pour out of stores when the sun goes down. There are enough people, cars and bikers to dodge on the sidewalks and streets of London without the heaps of trash bags in front of every store. I don’t think I have ever noticed any separation between trash and recyclables in these piles either. I assume this means most shops do not recycle.

I looked further into this in hopes of finding something less disappointing. I looked at the City of London website and found that there are laws about trash, instructions on how to recycle, and some objectives the city of London is working on. I was correct in noticing that the trash seems to come out at sundown. The law is that there can be no trash on the sidewalks or streets between 8:00am and 6:00pm. Between 6:00pm and midnight there are two hour restrictions and there are no restrictions between midnight and 8:00am. This explains why after midnight you feel like you are walking through a dump because of the amount of trash piled on the sidewalks. The good news though, is that there are laws that require the trash to be tidy. The bags must be tied and no waste is allowed to escape. This ensures that after the bags are removed there is not waste left to rot or to attract vermin. Thanks to these laws the streets are kept clean between eight in the morning and sic in the afternoon. Businesses are also required, by law, to hire a trash removal service to properly dispose of their waste at the end of the day. This is beneficial because the company always knows what to do with their waste and it prevents trash from being left to litter the streets.

This is all great, however the “objectives” listed on the City of London’s website are quite vague and provide no explanation of how the city plans on executing these ideas. I chose three out of the nine to discuss because I thought they had the most initiative.

  1. “Waste reduction.” This seems fairly obvious but what the site discussed the most was convincing residents to reduce their waste through reusing items and recycling. No initiatives were proposed.
  2. Provide an opportunity to recycle. This objective is a good start if residents take advantage of it. It states that the city makes as many materials as possible recyclable and aims to remove them from the household as soon as possible.
  3. Making provided services affordable for businesses. This is a good one because since it is the law to hire a garbage removal service it might as well be affordable. It is nice that the city has made an effort to do so. This way, businesses will not be tempted to dispose of rubbish incorrectly and/or illegally.

Overall, it is surprising that in such a big city there is such a lack of excitement and encouragement to recycle. I suppose it is sort of a new fad in the U.S. but one would think London would have jumped on this band wagon as well. Perhaps these objectives are the start of a recycling movement here in London. They are off to a great start with the laws currently in place. 

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Health, London, public health, Recycling, Trash, Waste

The Moroccan Cuisine

Friday, July 19, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

During the first weekend in April, my best friend and I traveled to Morocco! Morocco is located in Northern Africa, just across the Gibraltar Straight from Spain. Since the Islamic invasion of the 7th century AD, Morocco has been a Muslim country so everyone speaks Arabic. The part of the country that we stayed in was very green, full of fertile soil, ideal for all kinds of crops like almonds, olives, dates, lemons, figs, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, melons, oranges, and potatoes. It was nice to be in a country that has their own food, unlike London which, like I said in a previous blog post, is a melting pot of different cuisines. Everything Moroccans need to cook with, they grow within walking distance of the place they plan on cooking it.

Moroccans stew everything and often serve it on couscous. This is a pretty standard meal throughout the country, we learned. Our first meal consisted of a round, flat bread, a delicious salad and then a chicken and chickpea stew served over tasty couscous. Our next meal was essentially the same thing. This meal is called tajine, a lamb or poultry stew. The round bread we ate is traditionally served at every meal. It is delicious. Everything tasted relatively similar because Moroccans typically stick to using the same six or seven spices in their cooking: cumin, saffron, ginger, cinnamon, ground red pepper and coriander. These dishes often have a unique sweet-spicy taste. Saffron makes the stews a dark red color in addition to the flavor they add. Couscous is a staple food. I did not have one Moroccan meal without couscous, which I did not mind because I love the tiny pasta. Dessert is important in Moroccan cuisine as well. We were never denied dessert; however, we found that despite their love of sweets, after dinner or lunch we were always served an apple and a banana on a plate. It was not exactly the dessert we had in mind, but perhaps we needed the nutrients. Of course we usually did not eat either because the water is not safe to drink in Morocco therefore the water they use to wash the fruits is also unsafe. There were many honey-based sweets sold on the streets, though so we were able to get our sugar-fix in that way.

The trip was an incredible one. The landscapes were truly amazing. It was just an added bonus that the food was so good. It tasted exactly like you would imagine a Northern African meal to taste! If you are interested in making tajine or some other Moroccan meals, follow the link above!

Tagged In: food, Health, Healthy UNH, Morocco, Nutrition

The British Love Fairtrade Products

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

Fairtrade products are all over the UK. In the States, you may only hear about these products when you are looking for them or in health food stores. They are not mainstream yet, but in the UK, Fairtrade is growing bigger and bigger by the year.  This came as a surprise to me because the English do not seem to care about the quality of their food or where it comes from. Evidently, I was quite wrong.

The Fairtrade Foundation, for those that are not aware is a nonprofit foundation that encourages small-scale farmers usually in underdeveloped countries to take control of their product and improve their quality of life in doing so. The foundation protects the rights of workers so that they may be safe and healthy at work, while ensuring freedom of association, no discrimination and no illegal child labor. The Secretary of State for International Development said, “Trade drives growth which in turn creates jobs and wealth in communities. Through trade we can help people to pull themselves out of poverty. Ensuring farmers and other producers get a fair price for their produce and effort is central to this.”

Fairtrade prices its products such that the costs of sustainable production are affordable and possible for the producer. This eliminates the anxiety caused by a drop in revenue due to a sudden drop in demand of the product so the producer can maintain production confidently. The confidence of the producer reduces the chances of his or her product or company to be exploited by major industries.

The foundation certifies these small farms and creates premiums to give to farmers to give to their workers to use however they feel would be most beneficial. The premium can only be used for the benefit of the workers, whether that is economically, socially, or for the benefit of their families and community.  This gives the famers some stability knowing that their workers are getting the money they need to take care of themselves and their families, and the farmer does not have to worry if he or she cannot afford to pay them.

London is one of 750 cities worldwide that uses Fairtrade in municipal purchasing, schools and retail outlets. Products that have received the Fairtrade seal and thus follow the demands of the foundation have experienced a 40% growth each year for the past five years. This shows that consumers in the UK are paying attention to this seal which is quite exciting. Hopefully the United States will soon follow suit. 

Tagged In: child labor, Courtney Eaton, discrimination, fair price, Fairtrade, Fairtrade Foundation, farming, Healthy, Healthy UNH, London, municipal purchasing, poverty, quality, safe food, safety, sustainable

The Delicious Italian Cuisine

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

Two weeks ago I toured around different parts of Italy. Italy is obviously home to the most delicious food in the world, in my opinion. The cities are beautiful and so much fun, but the food is what sold me. This is no Olive Garden. Italian food is part of the Mediterranean diet so it is considered quite healthy, to the surprise of many. There are three major differences between genuine Italian cuisine and what Americans think is Italian.

First, the quality of the ingredients is crucial in Italian cuisine, not the quantity of food. In the United States, one single meal at an Italian restaurant could feed a small family. In addition, before this massive feast we are served bread and sometimes a salad. This is uncommon in Italy. They may serve you bread with olive oil but it is sort of an appetizer because they charge you for it. The dipping of bread in olive oil is not an Italian tradition. Restaurants keep olive oil and vinegar on the table but it is intended to be used for a salad. In Italy, the portion sizes are much smaller and more reasonable. The ingredients used are fresh and much lighter, unlike our American expectations of heavy cream sauces and layers of cheese. Italians pride themselves on the freshness of their ingredients. The professor of the Intro to Food and Beverage Management class at UNH is from Italy and she prides herself on preparing fresh pasta, gathering fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables to cook all of her meals. She essentially does not believe in pre-prepared meals. This directly reflects the Italian ideal. One night I got a salad, not expecting anything stupendous. This was the best salad I have ever had. It was the restaurant’s “house” salad, made with fresh crisp lettuce, carrots, gorgonzola cheese and fresh prosciutto. Anywhere else this salad would have been mediocre, but the freshness of all the ingredients made it fantastic.

The famous gelato is a great example of how the quality of the ingredients creates an amazing product. Gelato is made of more whole milk than regular ice cream. Regular ice cream is made with more water which is why you get that crunchy crystal texture. Gelato is denser because it is churned slower so less air is brought into it, unlike ice cream. There is more fat in ice cream which coats your mouth and lessens the flavor. This and the fact that gelato is served at a warmer temperature allow the flavors in gelato to become more intense and wonderful. I ate gelato almost every day while I was in Italy, but Italians consider it a special treat. A typical Italian dessert is fighi e albicocce (fresh figs and apricots. A much healthier option than gelato every night, but I was on vacation! I have zero regrets.

When we Americans think of Italian cuisine, we think of pizzas piled high with cheese and toppings with delicious think crust and huge pasta dishes with heavy cream sauces and garlic bread. On the contrary, the pizzas in Italy have a thin crust and are just sprinkled with cheese and toppings. The pastas are served with light sauces that are much less salty that the Americanized version. The tomato sauces are almost always made from scratch and have an incredible taste. Italians eat almost no red meat. They eat a lot of chicken and tons of seafood. I had some unbelievable mussels and clams while I was there. Salad dressings are rare. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are used instead and are put on the table like salt and pepper in the US. This article perfectly described the cuisine as “simple and genuine.” The article also noted that Italians make an effort to eat like their grandparents because it is part of their tradition. If Americans adopted this idea they would be substantially less overweight.

 

Second, a meal for Italians is not something that can be rushed. They eat their food slowly, enjoying every bite and the company around them. At restaurants in Italy you have to ask for the check. Once the waiter clears your plate and asks if anyone wants coffee or dessert he or she walks away and will not return with the check until you wave him or her down to ask for it. They also do not interrupt your meal to ask how the food is, (probably because they know it is awesome,) and because they know that the customer wants to enjoy their meal and the friends and family while they eat their meal.   

Lastly, despite how long their meals usually take, Italians do not typically overeat. Once they feel full, they stop eating and might order a cappuccino or a coffee while they chat. Dinner is also typically served around 7:00 to 8:30 at night so they avoid the snacking before bed, (another horrible American habit).  

The article so accurately pointed out that dieting to Italians is a foreign concept. Most just live a healthy active lifestyle because they care about the inside of their bodies as much as the out. (This is why the amount of Italian smokers boggles my mind so much, but that is another story).  Everyone walks or bikes everywhere. This is clearly visible all over Italy, I noticed. Everyone looks perfect all the time. To summarize, the men are good-looking, people walk everywhere, everyone is happy and friendly, the weather is beautiful and of course the food is delicious and great for you. I can’t think of any reason not to move there.

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Cuisine, gelato, Healthy UNH, Italian, Italy, Nutrition, overwieght

Religion’s Impact on Peoples’ Diets

Friday, June 14, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

I am taking a world religions class originally to simply fulfill my general education requirement, but I have come to realize that it is more important than I thought. It is especially crucial for those going into the nutrition field to study different religious dietary rules and practices in order to be successful in helping an individual reach their nutrition goals.  

Hindus believe that all living things are equal therefore they are lacto-vegetarian and fruitarian. They do not eat meat for the same reason you would not eat a human. Humans and animals are all equal, therefore neither are food. Cows especially are completely off limits because they are sacred. Hindus believe in something called a dharma which is basically your role in this present life. Dairy is permitted because it is the cow’s dharma to produce milk. Hindus do not eat fruit or any plant off of the tree or vine because that would be considered harming the living plant which is, again, equal to you. They wait until the fruit has fallen off of the tree.

Buddhism is an offshoot of Hinduism so they have some similar dietary rules. Buddhists refrain from any wrong thoughts or actions like killing, because it causes suffering and bad karma. This means that they also do not eat any meat or fruit from trees. They must refrain from drinking any alcohol because it clouds the mind and may cause poor decisions. This may be the reason for the “red flush” that many Asians get when they drink alcohol. Their bodies are not accustomed to it so if some drink alcohol they may break out in hives. Buddhist monks and nuns do not buy their food because they are not allowed to touch any sort of money. Something as materialistic as money clouds the mind and causes suffering, so the surrounding Buddhist community brings food to the temple where the monks and the nuns live so they can eat. They do not need to eat a lot, only enough to survive because any more is considered to be something extra that may distract them from their clear mind. Monks and nuns are also not permitted to eat past noon. They perform a ritual at 11:45, then they eat the food that the community has brought over at 12pm and they do not eat again until very early the next morning.

Jainism is another offshoot of Hinduism that practices fasting for very long periods of time. Women are even more encouraged to fast. The original buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha was initially a Hindu and then was a Jain. When he was practicing Jainism he fasted so long that he was basically dying slowly.

Judaism has the most rules and the strictest rules regarding foods that are fit or unfit to eat and how they must be cooked. It may come as no surprise that Jews follow a Kosher diet, but you may not know exactly what that means. There is a set of laws called Kashrut laws that define a Kosher diet. These laws describe how the animal should be hung and how the meat should be cut so that the least amount of blood is released from the animal. Blood is considered to be the soul of the animal so Jews do not eat rare meat. It must be cooked all the way through. A rabbi is present in the slaughter of the animal and the preparation of many foods to ensure that the process has been done correctly. Foods that are fit to eat are fish with fins and scales and animals with hooves that eat mostly grass, like cows, goats, sheep, etc. Kosher salt is different than common table salt in that the granules are larger in order to soak up the most blood in cooking. Foods that are unfit for Jews are crustaceans, scavenger birds, birds of prey, mammals and pigs, because although pigs have hooves, they eat pretty much anything so they are seen as dirty. Jews refrain from mixing dairy with meat at any time. Some Orthodox Jews will have separate dishwashers and refrigerators for dairy and meat. During the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, no work is allowed. This means that they cannot turn on the lights or cook with electricity. This is why you may find that some Jewish foods are typically cooked earlier and served cold.

The importance of certain dietary practices in these religions is evident. If you were supposed to help a client or patient change their diet, you may have trouble finding alternative foods if you do not know what their religion permits them to eat. You may even offend them which could mean the end of the session and perhaps the loss of a client. Even if the individual does not strictly follow these rules, you would want to ask before they have to tell you, as not to offend them. 

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Diet, Healthy UNH, Nutrition, Religion

The Nutrition of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

Friday, May 24, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

I spend last weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland. If your geography skills are subpar, Scotland is north of England.  Scotland, though still part of Britain and consequently the United Kingdom, Scotland is quite different from England. It is sort of like England’s Canada, in my opinion; cold, less people, but better food. The food is better; however the food in England is pretty bad, so better is still not good. Before I go into detail about one of my meals it is interesting to note that I went to a grocery store that charged me for a plastic bag.  Not only was I charged but to locate one was a bit of a hassle. I did not have any complains though because I believe that all grocery stores should follow this example. It becomes much easier to bring your own bags than it is to dig out three cents and then locate a couple plastic bags somewhere in the store.

One meal that makes Scotland stand apart from England is their traditional Haggis, Neeps and Tatties. Neeps is Scottish slang for turnips, which are mashed and served alongside tatties, or mashed potatoes.  Haggis is where it gets interesting.  Haggis is a combination of mashed heart, lung and liver, traditionally cooked in the lining of the animal’s stomach. Now that you have that image in your mind, let us dissect the meal’s nutritional value.

First, turnips are quite popular around Britain. They are a root vegetable similar to potatoes, the only difference is that they are a good source of vitamin C. Turnips also contain a surprising amount of fiber, though still not as much as leafy greens and other vegetables. Turnip is still considered a starch, as potatoes are, so it is not high in many other nutrients. Potatoes are nothing new to the American diet, but you may not know that potato skin is rich in quite a lot of nutrients including vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, copper, niacin, and potassium. The flesh alone does not contain nearly as many nutrients, but is still a relatively good source of vitamin B6.

Next: haggis. The first main component in haggis is liver. Liver is actually quite healthy. It is high in vitamin A, vitamin B12 and copper. Substantial quantities of other nutrients including the following are present in liver: riboflavin, folate, selenium, chromium, pantothenic acid, niacin, protein, vitamin B6 and niacin. Lung is a great source of selenium, protein and iron while also containing a moderate amount of vitamin C, vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin and phosphorus. Heart is not as healthy to eat as you may have thought. It is low in protein and the only substantial nutrient is not surprisingly vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is found in all animal products, which is why it is not surprising that it is found in heart. Liver and lung are high in cholesterol so haggis should be eaten in moderation. A side salad or perhaps some green beans would be a great nutritional addition to this meal.

After pushing the thought of these ground organs cooked in an animal’s stomach lining from my mind, I decided I needed to try this odd phenomenon. I did so, and I would do it again. It tasted like ground beef and when you mixed the whole meal together, it is comparable to Sheppard’s pie. Traditionally served as such with the mashed potatoes, mashed turnip and haggis in three layers with some sort of sauce poured on top; I recommend this meal to anyone who travels to Scotland, as it is part of the whole tourist experience. 

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Health, London, Nutrition, Scotland, Traveling

Smokers in the UK

Wednesday, May 15, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

Each day I think I lose a few hours of my life due to the amount of smokers here in London. It is not like in the United Sates, where if you walk past a smoker you can just hold your breath and happily breathe fresh air after you pass them. If you tried to do this on the streets of London you would pass out. According to the ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) foundation , one in five British adults smoke, compared to less than a sixth of Americans. Also, unlike the US, the UK  packages of cigarettes have  horrible pictures, of what smoking can do to your body, and yet they continue puffing away their life. Some packages just have two words on the front: “SMOKING KILLS”. I learned in my Health Psychology class here at Regent’s College, that people do not like to have their integrity questioned. When their integrity is questioned, they deny the facts presented to them. This explains why the pictures on cigarette packages do not work. The pictures may imply that the individual is not making a smart decision; even though he or she may be a smart, logical person. So instead, people deny that these pictures are reality and continue to smoke. They may also believe that these horrible things depicted in the pictures could not happen to them. This, as I learned in the Health Psychology course, is called “unrealistic optimism”.

Regent’s College has this beautiful courtyard that I would love to walk through to get to the classes over there, but you cannot breathe out there. You think “Oh, some fresh air would be nice” until you walk outside to about a hundred Europeans smoking their lives away. It is not a big courtyard by any means so to pack all these smokers so tightly together creates this smoky fog. Needless to say, I have yet to set foot in this courtyard. Luckily, smoking in restaurants is now illegal. Because there are so many smokers though, there are quite a few tables outside restaurants with heat lamps around them. Sometimes they even give you a blanket. This way, smokers can enjoy their cigarettes with their meals outside away from people. I was fortunate enough to hear the other side of the argument from a friend of mine that I have met recently from France. She told me that it is looked at as attractive in Europe. Though this is still not a compelling reason to smoke in my opinion, I accepted and respected her point of view. It is part of their culture. 

Like in the US, there are quite a few campaigns to help the two thirds or so individuals that wish to quit. The National Health Service (NHS) is the healthcare here in the UK and they cover the majority of medications. Individuals can get Nicotine patches, gum or lozenges either for free of for very inexpensive. Other medications like Champix and Zyban are medications that reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms are covered in the NHS. The only thing that is not provided in the NHS is smoking and quitting education or counseling. It is an addiction so the mental and emotional aspects need to be attended to as well. There is some good news though in the UK; the number of smokers is actually decreasing; though you would not think so based by how many smokers you walk by on the streets every day. 

Tagged In: Action on Smoking and Health, Champix, Courtney Eaton, Healthy UNH, London, National Health Service, Nicotine Patches, smoke, Smoking Kills, withdrawal symptoms, Zyban

What is Prawn and Why DO the English Love it So Much?

Friday, May 10, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

Prawn is something I had not seen before arriving here in London. I came across it in places you would expect such as on pasta or in a stir fry or fried, but I also came across it in unexpected places such as in a salad on a sandwich and as a flavoring on crackers and chips. I wanted to see what the hullabaloo was about.

Prawn is basically jumbo shrimp. Often times in the US prawn are incorrectly labeled as such. They are nutritionally the same as shrimp, however the English use prawn in ways Americans would never think of. Prawn contains a relatively high amount of cholesterol but a low amount of saturated fat. The English make up for the lack of saturated fat when they fry prawn or make prawn salads with mayonnaise to put on sandwiches. One may think this is similar to a tuna fish sandwich but allow me to assure you the texture is quite different. Prawn is a good source of iron, which is important for oxygen transport in the blood and red blood cell production. Prawn also contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acid, which is important for heart health. Zinc and Selenium, present in prawn, are important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Prawn is also a good source of many B vitamins such as Niacin, B-6 and B-12 which help to maintain nerve function, contribute to red blood cell and energy production.

The English may have found a great sandwich meat substitute, for those that do not mind the cold, sometimes slimy texture. The consumer, however, must not forget the high cholesterol content. This should be kept in mind with individuals who typically consume a great deal of cholesterol regularly. It is a wonder how the English keep their cholesterol down with all of this prawn and ‘fish and chips’.  It is most certainly an interesting flavoring choice for chips and crackers, though I hardly think the nutrients on the flavoring accurately reflect the nutrients in the crustacean. 

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Healthy UNH, London, Prawn, shrimp, Study Abroad

Food Bans in the UK Versus Band in the US

Monday, April 22, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

The United States has a long list of food bans due to negative health outcomes of certain foods and ingredients. The United Kingdom has banned some foods and ingredients but it is not nearly as easy to research as foods banned in the US. This could be a result of the fewer restrictions placed on foods in the UK or perhaps less resources announcing these food bans. The difficulty I had researching this topic could also have to do with my lack of knowledge of British “food regulators” (for lack of a better term). In any case, through the culmination of facts I’ve learned throughout my stay here in London, previous knowledge and a couple of websites, this article will hopefully raise some eyebrows or spark some other thoughts about the bans in the US versus the bans in the UK.

Horsemeat: The first “rumor” I heard here in London was that often times their beef was mixed with horse meat. Immediately I told the person that this was probably illegal and therefore untrue, because it is illegal in the United States. After doing some research I found that this “rumor” is in fact quite true. Sometimes it is not beef at all but completely horse meat. Slaughtering horses for meat is completely legal and quite normal here in England. They often do not differentiate between the two... make of that what you will.

Unpasteurized milk: The sale of unpasteurized milk is not permitted in some parts of the United States due to the risk of disease or illness. It is legal in the UK, however. It is possible that the UK does not use as many antibiotics and may allow their cows to live in better conditions, therefore exposing them to fewer toxins that can harm humans. This is merely a theory, however.

Konjac: Though quite an obscure ingredient to ban, this thickener used mainly in jelly candies has been outlawed due to a choking hazard. This could be why their gummy bears taste different!

Absinthe: The sale of this spirit is illegal in the United States due to the high alcoholic content and alleged hallucinogenic effects it has on its consumers. It is also illegal in many parts of Europe however the UK keeps it on the shelves with pride.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): HFCS is not banned in the UK; however they call it Fructose syrup. It is used much less than in the United States. The average individual in the US may consume up to 25 kilograms of HFCS a day per year, whereas in the UK the average individual may only consume around .5 kilograms a day per year. As a side note, this difference and the difference in the amount of overweight individuals in each country would make for an interesting study. For more information on HFCS in the UK you can read this article

There are of course many other bans on ingredients and other foods in the UK, but these are the ones I have come across or heard about since my arrival in London.

Tagged In: Absinthe, Courtney Eaton, Food Bans, food restrictions, Healthy UNH, horse meat, Konjac, London, United Kingdom, unpasteurized milk

Food Cycle

Monday, April 8, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

Originally I planned on writing a blog about food labels because they are quite different here in England. I found a few sites about the regulations but they were very dry and I could not imagine writing anything overly thrilling with such dry material. After becoming frustrated I began looking into foods that are banned here in the UK. While on the quest for this information I came across a fascinating company that uses “past-sell-date” foods. This immediately intrigued me so I had to read more. This is one of the most exciting aspects of researching for a blog article. Almost every time I have a topic idea I come across something else or something more interesting. For those of you just dying to know about food labels and banned foods in the UK, do not fret, they are coming, but I have to tell you about this company first!

It is called Food Cycle. This brilliant company started five years ago, tackling a slew of major concerns in any community: wasted food, hungry people, healthcare costs and those who want to help out in their community somehow. Food Cycle funds what is called a “hub” in a community. A hub is a group of volunteers that want to help feed less fortunate people in their community. There are criteria that must be met in order to become a hub. Once a hub is established, it remains for years at a time. The hub collects food that retailers can no longer sell because they are past their “sell by” date. They are not expired foods, so this is still legal. They also use professional kitchens that are not in use, to cook nutritious meals for those that cannot afford to do so themselves.  According to the company there are about  4 million people who cannot cook healthy meals for themselves. Because these 4 million cannot afford food for themselves they become malnourished which costs the UK  government 13 billion pounds (about 20 billion US dollars), since most of their healthcare is paid for by the government. Food Cycle is not only helping communities to feed the hungry it is helping the country economically as well. This company excited me so much I have been looking for hubs around me here in London. I’ve found three that I plan on emailing. Hopefully I’ll be able to volunteer at one and blog about how it goes! Explore the website some, it is really a fantastic company!

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, food cycle, food waste, healthcare costs, hub, Nutrition, past-sell-date, Study Abroad

The Melting Pot of English Cuisine

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

Regent’s College has a variety of meals each day and I thought it was because they are trying to cater to the different cultures here at the school, but this is not the case. English cuisine  is similar to American cuisine in that it is a mix of different cultures. In the morning, there is a combination of a full English breakfast, French croissants and pain au chocolat (a chocolate-filled croissant), and some granola and yogurt. A full English breakfast is an old tradition that used to be a daily occurrence but is now more of a weekend and vacation meal. Quite similar to what Americans would make for an extravagant breakfast, the English breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, cereals, fresh or stewed fruits, toast, juice, coffee, tea, accompanied by grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. The bacon here is actually just a thick fatty slice of ham that is not crunchy like American bacon. They say with confidence that this is “real bacon”. I am not a coffee drinker so I have not experienced the difference, but what I have noticed and heard is that the coffee here is more of an espresso. A friend told me that what they call “Americano coffee” is simply just watered down espresso. When the English drink coffee they are really drinking a tiny little mug of espresso. The mugs they sell all around London are not more than 2 inches tall and an inch and a half wide. One of my professors said that once we go back to the States the coffee will taste like dirty water.

Ginger was a spice I was not accustomed to seeing so often before coming to England. I kept coming across it in unexpected places like in teas and granola bars. I learned that this was due to the Franco-Norman Invasion during the medieval times. Also I was surprised by the amount of spicy foods and curry they were serving in the Refectory (or dining hall). Again I assumed this was because of the number of international students, however it is due to English invasion of India in the 1700’s. The English went to India for many reasons but one was because the English did not understand the Hindu religion and thought they were devil-worshippers. English Christian missionaries went over to force the Hindus to convert to Christianity or they would be executed. After the English realized they had made a mistake about the Hindus being devil-worshippers, they gave the Indians a “free pass” to live in England as an apology. Some took them up on the offer and with them, they brought curry and spicy foods!

Some favorite dishes of the English include the famous fish and chips, roast beef, Chicken Tikka Masala. I have not tried the last two though I have seen them and they look delicious. The famous fish and chips are everywhere! Chips in the UK are French fries and the fish they serve is a huge piece deep fried and extremely greasy. If you do not like fried food, this dish is not for you. As for desserts, the English, like the rest of Europe, do it right. The chocolate here is so creamy I do not think I will ever be able to go back to Hershey’s. Custard is common here as a sauce for pies and crumbles.  It is an egg-based pudding usually made with cream as well, so if you are lactose intolerant, please steer clear of the custard. 

Despite the negative stereotype of English cuisine it is actually quite similar to American cuisine. It is not nearly as bad as some say. Plus in a big city like London there are so many cultures intermingled, you can find any type of food you can imagine!

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, England, Healthy UNH, London, Nutrition

My Experience Using England’s Healthcare

Friday, February 15, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

On Tuesday, the 22nd I went to the Soho NHS Walk-In Clinic of London and was able to experience the difference between the US healthcare and that of London first-hand. Since my arrival in London I have had this cold that I just could not kick. It seemed to be getting worse and I feared a sinus infection, so I eventually went to the Soho NHS Walk-in Medical Clinic. First, let me note that Soho is a fantastic part of the city; my favorite part thus far. I like to think of it as a combination of Times Square and the North End of Boston.  The clinic I visited was at the end of this narrow side street by a little park called Soho Square.

The clinic was exactly how you would imagine a clinic to look. You walk into a large waiting room of sick people and a line, or “queue” as they call them here in the UK, along the back wall leading up to the reception desk. This clinic is for individuals that have not registered with a General Practitioner (GP) (a Primary Care Physician as we call them,) or are here for “holiday” that is less than 6 months. Before this clinic, I visited the clinic that I am supposed to go to just outside of the Regent’s College campus. I am supposed to register with a GP there and complete paperwork before-hand so I can make an appointment. I had not done this ahead of time so I was forced to go to this clinic in Soho.

All residents of England receive healthcare coverage from the National Health Service (NHS). This service is run by two divisions of Parliament, the Secretary of State for Health and the Department of Health. The NHS covers preventative services including physician visits, screenings, immunizations, vaccinations, and inpatient and outpatient care. It also covers inpatient and outpatient drugs, some dental care, some eye care, palliative care, rehabilitation, some long-term care and mental health care including most care for those with learning disabilities. Learning disabilities are not taken lightly here since the Equality Act of 2010. Even at Regent’s College the disability services are much more involved than at UNH. The paperwork for UNH’s disability services is quite invasive which is to be expected, but here at Regent’s there are just a couple papers that need to be filled out. Plus there are specialists on campus that hold tutoring sessions to help individuals with dyslexia for example. They are very accommodating.

Some things are not covered by the NHS. Outpatient prescription drugs cost 7.65 pounds which is what I ended up paying for the amoxicillin that the doctor ended up giving me. Dentistry costs 209 pounds per course of treatment. Individuals such as myself, who are not covered by the NHS obviously do not have these services available to them, however emergency services and some infectious disease treatments are free. Wealthier people can opt out of the NHS coverage and get private healthcare usually from their employers. Only about eleven percent of the UK opts out and is covered privately. This private insurance is not regulated by divisions of parliament like the NHS is.

Financially the system is more cost-effective than the US healthcare system. In 2010 England spent 9.6% of their GDP on healthcare while the US spent a whopping 15.2% in the year prior. Today the US spends closer to 18% of our GDP on healthcare. The English NHS receives 76% of their funding from general taxation, 18% from payroll taxes and some from copayments and privately insured patients.  

From a patient’s point of view, not a tax payer’s point of view, I thought the system was great! You wait in a short line to speak to the receptionist who takes down your information and sets you up to speak with what they call a triage nurse. These nurses are there to speak with you to determine what the next step should be. I assume this is a type of gatekeeper to be sure that you indeed should speak with a doctor as to not waste the doctor’s time and tax payer’s money. After they decide the best course of action you wait in the waiting room for a short while and the doctor calls you in. From here no time is wasted. The doctor immediately asked me what my symptoms were. She determined right away that I had a bacterial infection in my sinuses. She then explained that she would give me an antibiotic, amoxicillin, to treat the infection. In America when I went in for a cough and the physician offered to give me an antibiotic which is ridiculous because the common cold is caused by a virus therefore an antibiotic would be completely useless. This is a perfect example of how doctors in America just want to give you a pill and send you on your way, even if it doesn’t help. This is not the case in England. Also, in England the doctor physically gives you the medication. You do not need to go to a pharmacy to pick it up which is nice. She also explained what medications and foods I should be cautious of when taking this antibiotic, (another thing American doctors are not very good at doing). She then gave me some home remedies of how to limit my coughing so I would get better. One time my doctor in America prescribed me steroids for a cough I’d had, and after taking them I still had the cough. She never mentioned anything that the English doctor had mentioned. Upon noticing how thorough and helpful she was I asked her if she and most of her colleagues treated their patients this way. She affirmed that many but not all doctors share the same idea that “patients are not like potatoes” they are all different and require attention. She told me that she would rather have someone else in the waiting room wait an extra five minutes than have me come back in a week still feeling lousy.

Visiting this clinic was one of the most interesting things I have done thus far. I learned a lot, not only about their healthcare but about the healthcare of the United States as well. If you would like to learn more about England’s National Health Service, this website is exceedingly helpful. Nothing compares to first-hand experience though!

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, England, Health System, Healthcare, Healthy UNH, London, UNH

The Benefits of Skiing

Monday, January 7, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

For some, the first sign of snow means it is time to dig out the wool socks and blankets and go into hibernation. For others, though, it means time to wax those skis and hit the slopes! Skiing is an incredible sport that involves physical, mental, social and emotional aspects of wellness. Often times winter can bring people into a depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.). Skiing combines the great outdoor air with physical activity and some sunshine exposure that many people forget about.

The physical aspect is obvious, however many individuals, especially those that have never skied before, may not realize how much brain power goes into the sport. Skiing is a proprioceptive activity. Proprioception is an aspect of fitness that is defined as one’s ability to feel the position of different body parts and the effort that goes into moving them. This is almost defines skiing because skiing involves quite a bit of balance and coordination. There are so many slight movements and positions of your body that you must be conscious of to ski well. The more you ski the more you strengthen your ability to be aware of the movement of your body parts. This is important because proprioception weakens with age so the more you are involved in proprioceptive activities the less it will diminish.

Skiing prevents aging in more ways than that though. When you ski you carry the weight of your entire body on your feet. Your knees are the joints that endure that weight and must be able to move quickly despite it, so they are being strengthened when you ski. Great news for those that have been skiing for many years; you’ve been strengthening those joints and making an injury later in life less likely the whole time. In addition to strengthening your knees your bones become stronger as well because skiing is a weight bearing activity. So not only are you having a fantastic time gliding down the slopes, but you are preventing knee damage, osteoporosis and increasing your proprioceptive strength. Skiing is also a great way to get some moderate aerobic activity into your day. For most people, skiing is an all day event, so you can imagine the workout your heart is getting without you even becoming winded.

It is hardly necessary to mention the social aspect of skiing, but I will for that sake of those that have never been. Waking up at the crack of down to drive an hour or two to spend a day in the freezing cold may not seem appealing to a “winter hibernator.” Add a whole group of close friends that all share the same love for skiing, and you’ve got one heck of a good day. What is unique about skiing is that it brings together people of all different ages and cultures. All over the world if there are mountains and snow, there will be people skiing.  So not only do you have a great group of people having a fantastic time; you’ve got a motivational team that encourages you to get off the couch in the winter and get your heart pumping all day! Try something new this winter instead of being miserable when the first snow falls. If you are already an avid skier, bring someone that isn’t and show them how much fun they are missing!

Tagged In: aerobic, Courtney Eaton, Healthy UNH, osteoporosis, Physical Exercise, Proprioception, proprioceptive activity, skiing

The Gluten Hype

Friday, January 4, 2013
By: Courtney Eaton

The presence of gluten-free foods has sky-rocketed across the nation and is causing some confusion. Some think that it can be used as a new fad diet, while others think that Celiac’s disease and gluten sensitivity are the same thing. First, let us determine what this “gluten stuff” actually is.

 Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. The two most talked about issues relating to gluten are gluten sensitivity and Celiac’s disease. These two diseases are often incorrectly used interchangeably. In reality the two differ dramatically in the way the body reacts to the presence of gluten. Gluten sensitivity is intolerance to gluten. This means that when those with the sensitivity consume gluten their immune system will exhibit allergic-reaction-type symptoms including diarrhea, a skin rash, bloating, constipation, and abdominal cramps and pain. There is no permanent damage to the body and no chronic illnesses will result.

Celiac’s disease has the same symptoms as gluten sensitivity initially, but can result in chronic illnesses if left untreated. Celiac’s disease is an autoimmune response that is triggered when the body of the person with the disease is exposed to gluten. Villi are tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine that help the body absorb nutrients. The autoimmune response of Celiac’s disease flattens and consequently destroys these villi, making it almost impossible for the small intestine to absorb the nutrients the body needs to survive. Major nutrients that are affected with Celiac’s disease are folate, iron and calcium because they are predominantly absorbed in the first part of the small intestine where the villi can be damaged. The absorption of other nutrients may be affected as well, resulting in many malnutrition-related issues including osteoporosis, anemia, joint pain, muscle cramps, seizures, amenorrhea, infertility, weight changes, dental problems, fatigue. Sometimes the person may exhibit behavior changes such as depression, anxiety and ADHD.  In the United States alone, .7% of the populations (2 million people) have Celiac’s disease. For many, it takes several attempts to diagnose it because of the similar symptoms to irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, and iron deficiency. It is crucial that Celiac’s is diagnosed correctly because of the chronic effects described above. Another important detail to the disease that many may or may not think of is the gluten content in cosmetic products, over-the-counter and prescription drugs and even some craft supplies. For those with Celiac’s disease, reading the labels of these products in addition to food products become essential. Simply because the label advertizes the food as “gluten-free” does not mean that it avoided cross-contamination with other foods that contain gluten. Even the slightest amount of gluten can cause problems with this disease.

Some people choose to eat foods that do not contain gluten as a means to lose weight. This is strongly discouraged for multiple reasons. Firstly, just because a food is listed as gluten-free does not mean it is low-fat, low-calorie and all around healthy for you. Second, eliminating entire food groups without medical reasons to do so can be detrimental to your body. A large portion of the carbohydrates (our body’s energy source) we consume contain gluten. The avoidance of gluten results in less carbohydrate consumption which results in energy-loss. Lastly, avoiding carbohydrates can trigger the starvation mechanism of the body which causes the storage of fat, in turn causing the person to actually gain weight.

Tagged In: celiac's disease, Courtney Eaton, Gluten, gluten-free, Healthy UNH, nutrients, Nutrition, villi

Happiness Cures the Common Cold

Friday, December 14, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

Almost everyone knows someone that acts like they are dying when they have a couch and a sore throat. Perhaps it is you that complains continuously about your runny nose. Have you noticed that these people tend to be sick more often or for longer periods of time?

A study was done in 1997 through 2001 by Dr. Sheldon Cohen and other students and professors from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburg to test the idea of disposition playing a role in illness. They wanted to know if it was true that those with a “negative emotional style” (NES) had a higher risk for contracting the cold virus than those with a “positive emotional style” (PES).  The 334 subjects were given nasal shots of a rhinovirus for the common cold and observed in quarantine in separate rooms.  After blood tests, they discovered that the individuals with a PES showed lower levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine which contribute to the lower risk for disease. They also exhibited less symptoms and more resistance to the virus.  The NES individuals exhibited more symptoms and less resistance due to higher levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. So those people who always seem to be sick and miserable are probably sick because they are miserable. Next time you feel lousy busy yourself with things that make you happy. Take a walk in the woods or lay in the sun. Maybe you would rather just stay in and watch a funny movie with some friends. Feeling sorry for yourself will not make you feel better and it will annoy everyone around you. So make the best of it. Grin and bear it because it will help you recover faster!

Tagged In: cold, Courtney Eaton, flu, Healthy UNH, virus

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Monday, December 3, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities! Today is dedicated to those who have both visible and non-visible disabilities. These students, no matter how severe the ailment, can have a hard time doing well on exams and completing work on time. This day is a great way to show them that they can achieve all they wish to achieve despite their disability. UNH’s Occupational Therapy Department, Health Services, Residential Life, Disability Services, the Education Department, the Center for Academic Resources and the Office of Affirmative Action and Equity all have sponsored an event today beginning 10:00am until 2:00pm. This event will be held in MUB room 330-332 and welcomes anyone to come in and try out different assistive devices and speak with service providers. The goal of today’s event is to educate people on the new devices and instructive methods available to help eliminate the barriers that those with disabilities face.

This event is hosted by the President’s Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities. This organization is committed to promoting the “empowerment and inclusion of students, faculty and staff, and guests with disabilities at the University of New Hampshire.” The President’s Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities believes that everyone that has a disability is an important aspect of our community. Each and every one of them adds value and diversity to our community. 

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Disabilities, Healthy UNH, MUB Event, Persons with Disabilities

It’s not the Turkey’s Fault that you are Tired

Monday, November 26, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

The poor turkey is having a rough enough day without being blamed for your sleepiness after the Thanksgiving feast. Many people have heard the rumor that turkey contains a chemical called tryptophan that causes us to feel tired. According to
Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine,) turkey does indeed contribute to your fatigue, but it is not the sole participant. L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid which means that you must consume it somehow because your body cannot make it. In your body, it is metabolized to make two hormones called serotonin and melatonin that help your body relax and regulate sleep.  This makes it seem as though turkey would be the culprit for the fatigue you experience, but in fact, turkey does not contain any more tryptophan than chicken, pork or most carbohydrates. Plus, in order for you to feel the effects of tryptophan you would have to eat it on an empty stomach or at least with no other protein. As hard as you try, chances are you’ve already been munching on some hors d’oeuvres so your stomach is not completely empty. Turkey contains a bunch of other protein so tryptophan will not have the effect it would if it were consumed alone.  

There are more contributing factors than just the turkey though. Thanksgiving is a socially acceptable time to overeat. Overeating causes the blood from other parts of your body to be focused to your digestive system so everything else gets tired.  A good portion of the food we eat at this time is high in fat which is harder for your body to digest. It takes more energy and is a much slower process than the digestion of the rest of the food. Let’s not forget the alcohol. Plain and simple: alcohol makes you sleepy. If you mix this with all of these other factors discussed, you have the perfect recipe for a Thanksgiving nap. Or better yet, do something active and help your body digest that giant meal faster so you can feel rested without the nap. 

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Healthy UNH, melatonin, overeating, serotonin, thanksgiving, tired, turkey

NEAT Ways to Burn Calories

Monday, November 19, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

Did you know you could burn calories by just talking on the phone? Sure! If you pace while you chat instead of sitting down, you burn calories without even thinking about it! This is NEAT! No, really; NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermoneogenesis  These are activities that you can do every day to burn calories without going to the gym.  Some NEAT activities that are easily incorporated into your day include:

  • Choosing the furthest parking spot from your destination
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Pacing while you’re waiting for something or while you’re on the phone
  • Fidget while you are sitting down.
  • Sit on an exercise ball if you work at a desk all day
  • Take a lap: If you often find yourself sitting around a lot try to stand up and walk around for a few minutes. For example if you are studying at the library it is a good idea to take a 20 minute break every so often to give your mind a rest; so take a couple laps around the library. Go up or down to other floors.

Some activities you may not need to do every day but are still considered NEAT activities include shopping, cleaning the house, doing yard work and countless others. A good rule of thumb to use is minimizing the amount of sitting you do each day. If you can incorporate these little tidbits of exercise into your daily life you can shed a few pounds or maintain your weight loss. Keep in mind though, that there is a cumulative effect with NEAT activities. You cannot simply add one NEAT activity to your day and expect to drop ten pounds in a week. This is just a helpful means of promoting physical activity for promoting and maintaining weight loss and preventing weight gain. NEAT activities also increase your metabolic rate. This means that it will become easier for you to lose weight because you will be able to burn more calories when you do work out or participate in more NEAT activities. There are so many things you can do to increase the amount of calories burned in a day, so get off your bum and no more excuses!  

Tagged In: activity, burn calories, calories, Courtney Eaton, Healthy, Healthy UNH, metabolic rate, non-exercise, physical health

Fat Talk Free Week at UNH Last Week

Friday, November 2, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

Fat Talk Free Week is a nation-wide initiative to ban fat talk for an entire week.  Fat talk is defined as any language that involves criticizing one’s body or the body of someone else. The slogan for the event is “Friends don’t let friends fat talk.” You have probably seen the stickers or flyers around the UNH campus at some point because UNH has been involved from the very beginning. According to Time, Carolyn Becker, a professor at Trinity College in San Antonio Texas, developed a program called Reflections Body Image Program. With the help of the Delta Delta Delta fraternity, the two helped launch the First Annual Fat Talk Free Week in 2008. Now more than 50 universities in the United States participate in this important week.

At UNH, Health Services promoted this program from the very beginning in 2008. In 2009 the Eating Concerns Mentors Program (ECM) was created and took the reins from there. ECM and Health Services think the week is a fabulous initiative because it challenges women and men to act against the thin ideal and focus on the positives of their bodies. This is difficult for many of us to do. If you visit the national Facebook page you can view many pictures of students loving their bodies. This year’s Fat Talk Free Week at UNH ran from the 21st of October to the 28th. It kicked off with the presentation of a life-sized Barbie in the lobby of the Dimond Library. According to research done by ECM, if Barbie was a real person she would not be able to walk, or menstruate, and would be considered anorexic.

Mirrorless Monday took place all day and encouraged students not to use a mirror for the entire day. The mirrors in the gym locker rooms were covered with paper and a flyer that read “Trust us, you look fabulous and beautiful! Be kind to yourself and celebrate your inner beauty! You are so much more than what you look like on the outside.” The film “Miss Representation” was shown in the MUB and followed by a discussion on Tuesday. This film talks about the negative influence of media on women’s body images and the lack of female presence in positions of power. In addition to the film on Tuesday, ECM opened up an online chat for students who wanted support with eating concerns. The rest of the week there was an “Inspiration Station” from Monday to Thursday at 11:00-1:00 in the MUB Union Court. ECM deemed this week successful due to the increase in students who reached out to seek help for their eating concerns. It is exciting to know that this program is successful because it is important for women and men to not focus on the thin ideal. Being healthy is crucial, but we as a society need to redefine what healthy looks like. Hopefully with the help of this program and universities all over the nation, fat talk will begin to fade over time and we will become a healthier more confident society.  

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Fat Talk Free Week, Healthy UNH

Surround Yourself with Happy People to be Happy

Monday, October 15, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

Who makes you happy? Chances are it is someone that you spend a significant amount of time with. A study done by Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School and Dr. James Fowler of the University of California in San Diego conducted a study on how an individual’s social network affects their happiness levels. They found that individuals who associate themselves with cheerful people have a happier demeanor and consequently a better sense of well-being. The effects of one person’s happiness influences another person’s mood which boosts another person’s mood. It is a chain reaction! The closer you are to these people emotionally, the longer the effect of their attitude will be on your disposition. The closer you live to a person, the stronger the effect is, because you are with them more, therefore the effect is nearly constant. It is also stronger between individuals of the same sex.

So surround yourself with people that make you happy. Life’s too short to spend it with miserable people. If there is someone that always brings your down, find ways to avoid them. Busy yourself with other things when they want to hang out. Go out tonight and have a “girls night” (or guys night) with your closest friends! Planning at least weekly gatherings with your friends is a good way to increase your happiness and theirs! Increasing your happiness can relieve stress and increase your sense of motivation and optimism so you can conquer the rest of your week successfully! Then, since you’ve conquered the things you needed to do, you will feel accomplished and even happier! It’s a chain reaction; you just have to push over that first domino!    

Tagged In: attitude, Courteny Eaton, happiness, Healthy UNH, Mental Health, mood, social, surround

Healthy Returns

Monday, October 1, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

This past Tuesday in the Strafford Room of the MUB was a program called Healthy Returns.  Healthy Returns is sponsored by University System of New Hampshire (USNH) Human Resources and the healthcare that UNH provides for all their employees called Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. This is a two part program designed to set goals and measure progress with rewards along the way. This past Tuesday’s event was the first portion of the program. UNH faculty registered in the Strafford Room and measurements of height, weight, cholesterol, glucose and tobacco use were taken. After this, each faculty member met with a clinical consultant to set reasonable and attainable goals for the next 6 months. For simply registering and making these goals each member received a 25 dollar Visa gift card.

In 6 months Healthy Rewards will be back to UNH to assess their progress. If participants did not meet any of the goals, but made an effort, they receive a ten dollar Visa gift card. If they met one of their goals, the reward is a 25 dollar gift card. For two or more goals met, participants receive a 50 dollar Visa gift card. The goals, unless otherwise stated by their consultant, are as follows:

  • Blood pressure: 140/90
  • BMI (body mass index, a measurement of height and weight): 25 or less.
  • Total cholesterol of 200 or less with HDL (good) cholesterol levels of 40 or above.
  • Glucose (blood sugar): as close to 140 as possible
  • Smoking: quit!

This is a great initiative for both the individual to save money while making goals to become as healthy as possible, as well as a fantastic way to save on healthcare costs for not just the individual, but also for Harvard Pilgrim. A healthier individual means less doctor visits which mean more money in the pocket! 

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, employee benefits, Healthy Returns, Healthy UNH, reward

Get Real UNH

Monday, September 24, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

Get Real UNH is a small student organization on campus but they have a big goal. Their mission is to have at least 20% of all UNH food be local, fair trade, friendly to the environment or humanely produced by 2020. In addition, they would like to create a community that cares enough about these criteria for food to act on it. What you probably do not know is that you may have already engaged yourself in Get Real UNH by going to the Local Harvest Fest. This was in inaugural event in their “Food Month”. Food Month runs from last Wednesday the 19th to October 24th: Food Day! Food Day is a nationwide event promoting the importance of sustainable and affordable food. This year Get Real UNH will have their second annual Food Day all over campus. Most importantly, the speaker that will be in MUB theatre two at 4:00pm that day, October, 24th. His name is Rob Everts and he founded "Equal Exchange: A Radical Model for Global Food, Farming & Business".

As you can see, this little group of only 12 members is hosting some big events. If you would like to be a part of this fantastic group or just learn a little more, you can go to their meetings held on Mondays in MUB 114F at 5:00 pm. Visit their WildcatLink page here.  If you would like to know more about the national Food Day event you can visit: www.foodday.org . Find more details regarding Food Day at UNH on their Facebook page here.

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Get Real, Healthy Food Choices, Healthy UNH, humane production, local produce, Rob Everts

The Secret Benefit of Yoga

Friday, September 14, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

Many people suffer through migraines all the time. Some can last for more than a couple days. That is a long time to be in constant pain! They can be caused by numerous factors that differ from person to person. For many, migraines can be caused by stress. A study was done by Dr. P. J. John in 2007 that showed yoga to be a great stress releaser which is what makes it great for preventing and relieving migraines caused by stress.   Listed below are some poses that will help prevent migraines by clearing your mind of everything while stretching, breathing calmly and relaxing. Have fun with it! Grab some friends and do it in your dorm room or in the living room. Or if that is too distracting, do it alone in a quiet place like in the woods or in your room. Hold them both for ten to twenty seconds.

  • Wide-legged forward bend: Stand with your legs far enough apart that you can touch your hands to the ground. Then bend your elbows and place your forehead on the floor in between your hands. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Downward dog: On your hands and knees, push your bum towards the ceiling to create an upside-down “V” and press your heels and palms into the floor. Then go back to your hands and knees. Repetition with this pose is recommended.
  • Extended puppy pose: On your hands and knees, straighten your arms, arc your back and place your forehead on the floor. Be sure your bum is still in the air. Don’t forget to breathe!

There are a few poses aimed to relax your mind and like the preventative poses, they empty your mind to reduce the stress that may be causing your migraine. These restorative poses are relatively simple and can all be done on a bed. Hold them all for up to ten minutes.   

  • Reclining bound angle:  Make a diamond with your legs by bring the soles of your feet together. You may rest pillows under your knees if this is uncomfortable. Lie back and place your hands on your belly. Inhale and exhale slowly.
  • Legs up the wall pose: Lie on your back a few inches from the wall. Bring both of your legs up towards the ceiling and rest them on the wall. Breathe.
  • Corpse pose: This is a pretty basic pose. Lie flat on your back with your hands relaxed besides you. Breathe calmly. Clear your mind. This would be a good one to fall asleep to in your bed when you have a migraine or just cannot sleep.
Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, Health, Healthy UNH, migraines, Stress, Yoga

Superfoods to the Rescue

Tuesday, September 4, 2012
By: Courtney Eaton

We learn about the food pyramid early in life so we already know how to eat a balanced meal. There are some foods however, that are better than others. These are called “superfoods”. These foods can help boost immunity, and decrease the risk of some diseases and cancers. Some can even fight wrinkles, improve memory, and help you lose and keep weight off! It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it’s not. Foods really can have these effects on you, maybe not instantly, but they will make a difference when you incorporate them into your daily diet. Like they say, “you are what you eat”; so be super and eat these superfoods, according to Health Magazine:

  • Greek yogurt is all the rage right now! This is awesome because it is chock full of great nutrients. Greek yogurt has two times the protein as regular yogurt, plus just one cup satisfies a quarter of a woman’s Calcium needs. Some studies have even found that it boosts immunity. One should try for three servings a day. This may sound like a lot, but you can find tons of things to mix it with, such as granola, fruit, or nuts. You can also use it as a sour cream replacement in tacos or baked potatoes.
  • Olive oil is so frequently used it is easy to incorporate into your diet. This is convenient because olive oil is important for a healthy heart and improved brain function.  Two tablespoons a day is a good amount to shoot for. Try to use it in place of butter and other cooking oils.
  • Wild blueberries are truly magical berries; they decrease blood pressure, increase motor skills, AND they prevent memory loss. These qualities alone are fantastic, but what’s even more exciting is that they are high in antioxidants which help prevent wrinkles! Sounds like something you would read about in a Harry Potter book, doesn’t it? Choose wild blueberries over industrially grown blueberries because they score high in antioxidant activity tests. Aim for half a cup daily to get all their magic power!
  • Broccoli is high in many nutrients including vitamins C and A, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and fiber, plus it fights excess estrogen which helps prevents breast cancer. Broccoli also helps you feel more satiated, helping you either lose or maintain weight, depending on what your goal is. Two cups a week should do it.
  • Oats help lower cholesterol and are high in fiber. A high fiber diet helps to keep you regular, which is crucial in preventing colon cancer. Oats, along with broccoli, do an excellent job at keeping you fuller longer. Try to get steel cut oats because they have more fiber. You need 25-30 grams of fiber every day, so add oats to everything!
  • Walnuts are often forgotten when it comes to nuts because almonds tend to hog the spotlight. Walnuts can help you sleep, increase brain power, prevent heart disease, and fight cancer. Put them in banana bread or your brownies, so you don’t feel as guilty when you eat them. Aim for about 12 halves per day.
  • Dark chocolate! Yes chocolate! It surprisingly helps you eat less, if you eat it before a meal, because it slows down your digestion. Sneak a little dessert before dinner and enjoy it. Try not to eat more than the size of a business card.      

The best part about these superfoods is that you can put them together in a meal and create a supermeal, (not to be confused with a “Happy Meal”). Try oatmeal, chocolate, and walnut cookies!

Tagged In: Courtney Eaton, dark chocolate, Healthy UNH, immunity, Nutrition, superfoods