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Green Dining Awards

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How is Your Microbiota?

Excuse me? When was the last time someone asked you about YOUR microbiota?  Most people don’t realize that our bodies are made up of more bacterial cells than human cells. “We are walking ecosystems, as our bodies are colonized from top to bottom by microbes that, not happy with behaving like guests, are actually integrated into our biology. “They help us digest food, shape our immune system, alter our metabolism and evidence is even starting to show that they affect the nervous system, influencing our mood and behaviour,” explains Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University (USA).”


Keeping the microbiome, or the environment that the bacteria live in, optimal is key. As you might have guessed, this brings us to the discussion of our diets. Our GI bacteria, although very adaptive, love plant materials and fiber.   Those who follow vegan and vegetarian diets have different combinations of colonies in their guts, than carnivores, the bacteria in our colon actually help break down the fiber that other enzymes cannot.


Stress negatively impacts the health of our bacteria, for many reasons, but often due to poor dietary choices. Bacteria, or our bodies in general, don’t like the highly processed, highly sugared foods – (although they may taste great in the moment) they’re actually inflammatory. However these are often the types of foods we reach for when we are stressed. If you want to keep your microbioata happy, be selective with your diet. These microbes produce 95% percent of the body’s serotonin. Yes, serotonin – that neurotransmitter that can make us “sleepy” or “relax” us. Eating a diet that is rich in plant materials and dietary fiber is a good way to nurture your microbiome.  Consider yogurt and Kefir and even sauerkraut, yes sauerkraut to help keep a healthy environment. Just don’t lose sight of balance in the diet. Plant materials may be important but protein and fats are equally as important. Just living on salads is also not the answer.


So the next time you’re stressing, like right now or in the upcoming weeks, remember to be kind to your microbiota by eating well; have some yogurt with “live culture” bacteria, along with some granola and fruit, consider some hummus and raw veggies for a snack, sandwich on a whole grain bun along with some minestrone or vegetable soup at lunch, cheese and whole grain crackers as a mid-afternoon treat and maybe some schnitzel and sauerkraut for dinner.
Want to learn more: Follow http://www.gutmicrobiotawatch.org/

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I Don’t Say “Queer"

During last week’s Greek Ally Week, Blue Devils United hosted a student panel about being both Greek and LGBTQ on Duke’s campus.  The next day’s Chronicle article incorrectly identified one of the African-American panelists as “queer,” which made her uncomfortable.  “What is ‘queer’ supposed to mean?” she asked me later.  The term is vague, politicized, and simultaneously lacking a concrete meaning while burdened with decades of history.

Picking a label is one of the most difficult parts of coming out.  Speaking in stereotypes, “lesbian” calls to mind masculine-of-center women with buzz cuts and motorcycles.  “Gay” often refers to flamboyant, cisgender men.  Many people believe “bisexuals” don’t exist, but when they do exist, they’re hypersexual animals—for example, when I came out to my parents as bisexual, my mother thought I just wanted to have a boyfriend and a girlfriend at the same time.

When I was a freshman, I identified as “queer” and moved primarily within the LGBT community, where people knew what the term meant.  PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) defines queer as “an umbrella term…[anyone] who feels somehow outside of societal norms in regards to gender, sexuality or/and even politics.”  Academic E. Patrick Johnson, however, believes that “queer” is only for white people, and that blacks should identify as quare: “Odd or slightly off kilter…one for whom sexual and gender identities always already intersect with racial subjectivity” (Quare Studies, 2001).

As my friend groups changed and I transitioned socially to Duke’s “Black Community,” I couldn’t leave behind my sexual orientation.  As I came out (or was outed) to new people, I had to pick a label.  When I picked no label, people assumed I was a lesbian.  When I said “queer,” people didn’t understand.  “Bisexual” was the most familiar; people had at least heard of bisexuals, even if they didn’t understand the particulars, and so that’s what I’ve chosen for the past two years.

This isn’t to say that black people are unenlightened or homophobic—we’re no more “unenlightened” than any other racial group in the United States.  And some of the most progressive, gay/bi/queer/quare/anti-oppressive, anti-normative, anti-labelist activists I’ve ever met at Duke are black.  To that end, I also don’t say “queer” to white folk; if I had joined a PanHellenic or Multicultural sorority instead of NPHC, I would have come to the same conclusions. I don’t even say “queer” to myself anymore.

Maybe it’s my job to educate people about the nuances of the LGBTQIA community.  I should start conversations about the differences between being genderqueer and genderfluid, the subversiveness of drag, the dynamics of being capital-A Aggressive versus capital-F Femme, and the politics of polyamory.  The list goes on and on.  The LGBTQIA (and I’m still missing letters) community is diverse and lovely and confusing.  By hiding its nuances, I’m doing it a disservice and erasing people from the conversation.

I’m getting better about starting these conversations, because I know that I don’t give people enough credit.  As I have come out to people within the Black Community and within Duke’s campus at large, they have accepted me.  They have wanted to learn more.  And some have even come out to me, confused about their place in the broader LGBT community.

I no longer identify as queer because I feel that it doesn’t apply to me, but the next time someone asks, I won’t be afraid to have that conversation.

 

Original Duke Chronicle Article

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What’s Eating You?

If you’ve never heard the term ‘mindless eating’, you are not alone. Mindless eating is much more common than you would think especially in college students.

What is mindless eating?
When you eat an amount of food large or small in quantity (usually large) while not paying attention to the food or how your body feels as you eat it.

Mindless eating typically occurs:
Late at night after long periods of studying, watching TV
● If you have gone long periods of time without eating
When you finally eat you are so hungry you consume a large amount of food quickly which can lead to overeating.

So how can you prevent mindless eating? Good question!
It is important to know there are two pieces to help you avoid mindless eating; physical and emotional.

Physical:
• Eat regularly throughout the day (three meals and snacks in-between as needed). This will help prevent you missing meals and then becoming too hungry later in the day.
• Try to identify your own personal hunger cues (they aren’t the same for everyone). Physical hunger can be your stomach talking to you (growling) and feels empty or you begin to feel weak and low on energy, you may lose concentration or become cranky (“hangry”). Those are all signals your body uses to tell you it needs fuel and you need to eat. It is important to honor these cues by eating either a meal or snack.

Emotional:
• Learn to cope during periods of higher stress in your life. During periods of higher stress many of us turn to food for comfort whether it is for reward, or coping with stress and anxiety. When you catch yourself wandering to the vending machine or fridge or that box of cereal sitting in your room, and you don’t feel physically hungry you are about to mindlessly consume whatever is the next thing you eat.
• There are many ways you can cope with periods of stress in your life. Attending a yoga class, meditating, deep breathing, talking to a friend, taking a walk, working on a puzzle or doing moderate (45-60min) exercise at the Wilson Recreation Center can help. If you feel you need more help and want to talk to someone, Duke Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) can help.

On the flipside you also want to be a mindful eater
Pay attention to what you are eating
● Notice the tastes, feels, and smells of foods
● Notice how the food makes your body feel
● What type of mood are you in before you begin eating?
Positive moods make it easier to eat mindfully versus negative or sad moods make it difficulty to eat mindfully.
● Do you get hungry soon after eating these foods; do you feel energized or sleepy after eating?
● Pay attention to how well the food you eat makes you feel. And most of all enjoy your meals.

If you would like to talk to a nutrition professional in more depth about how you can become a mindful eater visit Duke’s Student Health Nutrition Website.  You can email any of our Registered Dietitians and make an appointment. This service is included in your tuition and does not cost extra.

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A Word About Lavender Graduation

You may ask,  “Lavender graduation…why the need for a special ceremony?”  I’m glad you asked.  A lot of seniors at Duke have been positively affected by their existence at Duke as a LGBTQ student and/or as an ally.  Some students have also been very negatively affected and found the Center to be a safe haven at some point in their journey… a place to get support, a place to be greeted by a smiling face, a place to get a hug, a place to crash on the couch, a place to have fun and forget your troubles even if just for an hour.  But most of all Lavender graduation is about celebrating who you are and one another as you have walked the campus of Duke as an LGBTQA students…even if you consider that part to only be a small part of who you are. 


Whether a student has been in the Center every day or only just passed by our doors they are welcome to participate.  And yes, there have been students in the past who participated in Lav grad who had never entered the Center door before, but who as they leave Duke want to celebrate/embrace who they are, and we welcome them! We also especially welcome allies to participate because it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to thank you and recognize your contributions to making Duke a safer place to be for LGBTQ students staff, and faculty.  
If you are not a graduating senior why should you attend?  If you are a Duke staff member or faculty member why should you attend?  What a very visible show of support your presence is to the seniors as they leave this place they have called home for four years. It’s one of the last memories they will have of their time at Duke and you can help make it a very positive one that they will never forget.  It will also fill your heart with pride for them and hope…hope that we are making this campus a more welcoming and safe space for all students and recognition that you play a very key part in making that happen and in ensuring its continuance in the years ahead. 
I look forward to seeing you there!
-Janie

Click here register to attend Lavender graduation

 

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Queer in Costa Rica

Over Spring Break, I traveled to Costa Rica with Duke Chapel.  I carried preconceived notions of the country, most notably that its predominately Catholic population would be homophobic and unwelcoming.

Costa Rica (literally “Rich Coast”) has a population of 4.5 million people, and is located snugly between Nicaragua and Panama.  The average family makes $10,200 dollars a year.  Seventy percent of Costa Ricans identify as Roman Catholic, fourteen percent identify as Protestant, and two percent identify as Buddhist.  And same-sex civil unions are legal.

Because I was traveling with the Chapel, I stayed in the closet while other students discussed whom they wanted to marry, and what they wanted to name their children, and which seminaries they hoped to attend.  The Chapel is gay-friendly, of course, but some situations aren’t. 
We slept in a Methodist church in San Isidro de El General, a small town filled with flower farms and fruit plantations, a town with streets of asphalt and sidewalks of dust, a town where tourists seldom travel and I passed as a local from Limón.  I talked to dozens of people during my stay.  I talked to mothers and pastors and the doctor who stitched up my knee.  I talked to Chapel administrators and students from Wake Forest.  I talked to storeowners and students.  Although we discussed dating and marriage, sexuality never came up, even in my conversations with Americans.
However, it’s still a pertinent issue in Costa Rican culture.  In 2000, the Costa Rican Supreme Court opposed the closing of a gay sauna in San José.  In 2008, the President declared May 17th as the National Day Against Homophobia.  In 2011, gay inmates were allowed to receive visits from partners.  And in 2013, the Legislative Assembly allowed gay citizens to have civil unions and domestic partnerships “without discrimination contrary to human dignity.”
Costa Rica also has a vibrant LGBT tourism scene.  Manuel Antonio Beach attracts thousands of queer visitors, while organizations such as GaytOurs help visitors find particularly gay-friendly activities.  Furthermore, America has approximately three million gay baby boomers, many of whom are looking toward Costa Rica as a possible retirement destination.

While I doubt that Costa Rica is the gay Mecca that GaytOurs claims it is, it is more welcoming and accepting than I expected.  In Costa Rica, just as in the United States, the question of gay rights is complex.
 

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Meet Stephanie Helms Pickett

Stephanie Helms Pickett was recently named as the new Director of the Duke Women's Center. We asked her a few questions about herself, and her how she plans to serve the Duke community.

Why is working in higher education important to you?

I often tell folks that I went away to college and I fell in love. It wasn't with a significant other, but instead the environment.  

When I arrived at my school as an undergraduate, I had limited knowledge of what I was in for. I'd never seen the campus. I was a first generation college student. My family was supportive, but they didn't know what I would be exposed to, confronted with, challenged about and affirmed to become. It was all a new experience, for me and for them. I needed help, and I found it. There was a woman named Virginia Rinella who worked in the Career Development Center, and instructed an orientation course. She was one of my professors, and eventually became my mentor. She was instrumental in providing me with the tools, resources and compassion I needed to navigate a place so foreign to me. She was a significant person in my developmental experience, providing both challenge and support. I am forever grateful for her presence at that crucial point in my life.

Being a student who was involved in a plethora of activities and organizations, I decided early my senior year that I wanted to assist students in the same manner and extension that was given to me. So, instead of pursuing Oprah Winfrey's job in Chicago (I was a Radio-Tv Broadcasting Major), I elected to pursue a graduate degree in Higher Education and from there, a career in Student Affairs. Since then, I've had the opportunity to work with thousands of students over the last 20 years at public, private, single sex, predominantly white and historically black institutions of higher learning. It has provided me joy and challenge. It has allowed me to give voice to policies and ideas. It has afforded me the opportunity to ensure that the place that I fell in love with over 25 years ago is safe, welcoming, affirming, challenging and empowering for all who enter and exit. It is a decision I've never regretted.

Is there someone in your life that has guided or inspired you?

My mother has always been my biggest inspiration. She was a single parent. My father passed away when I was 5, and she never remarried. I was reared on the south side of Chicago with limited monetary resources, but bountiful amounts of love, wisdom, compassion, accountability and faith. She was not afforded the opportunity to attend college, but it was always an expectation that I would. She has always believed in me, encouraged me, counseled me and corrected me. There is absolutely nothing that I've ever aspired to do without her full endorsement. The guiding principles she set for me have played a profound role in my life and who I present myself to be in any community. Further, her modeling has shaped me as a mother, a sister, friend, colleague and woman. She is my blueprint for how I interact and serve to bring out the gifts of others to witness their mark on this world.

How do you hope to serve the women of campus and the campus on women's issues?

The women at Duke are incredible. They are smart, savvy, innovative, empowered and beautiful. They are engaged and concerned. And yet, in conversations and spaces with women, you hear them speak of the challenge to be their authentic self in this environment. Academic engagement, leadership, entrepreneurship, belongingness, sexual violence, self-esteem, racial disparity, body image, social capital, choices, decision-making, and relationships are a part of their ethos; and each of these issues present themselves to women, concurrently and on a daily basis.  

I hope to encourage greater space for conversation with each other, to elicit compassion and understanding for each other's narratives before we can even speak of navigating the environment. Mentoring has always played a critical role in my life. I would like to see more of it, between underclass and upperclass students, with undergraduate and graduate/professional students, and with students and staff and faculty. I hope to continue the legacy of ensuring that women's voices are heard, and that that their voices are reflected in policy and the life of the university. I will make myself available to women, to hear what gives them joy at Duke, what gives them pause and what they need to be successful here and post Duke. I will listen, I will be accountable and I will be active to represent the concerns of women in student and academic life. I hope that as students, staff and faculty reflect on their Duke experiences, they can boldly state that the Center played a role in exposing them to something new, affirmed them as to who they are, and propelled them to higher heights. I want to move people and the environment from a place of knowing womanist and feminist theory to a place of doing and being womanist and feminist theory. I hope to inspire a deepened sense of community so that women's issues overall are not only heard, but responded to.

Tell us about the Women's Center staff?

The Women's Center staff are amazing! They are committed to the affirmation and empowerment of women. They are passionate about serving the needs of women and creating a climate that is safe, equitable and liberating, to fully enjoy and embrace their Duke experience. They model work-life integration and encourage women to lead lives that are reflective of their authentic selves. They encourage women to ask the tough questions, challenge systems that aren't representative of everyone, and insist their voices be heard and not silenced.

Full time staff and student interns create programming and discussions that allow us to consider multiple frameworks from a socially responsible perspective. I encourage anyone who is curious about the Women's Center to stop by, sit down and open up!

If you could stress a message to campus about the work the Women's Center does, what would it be?

The Women's Center is the place that always welcomes you, no matter what your path, how you arrived and where you intend to go, even if you don't know where that is right now. It celebrates your success, calms your fears, sustains your soul and, when you need it, gives you shelter from life's circumstances. It is a space that keeps on giving.

Now in her eighth year at Duke, Helms Pickett's other roles at the university have included directing Assessment and Professional Development within Student Affairs, chairing the Duke's Bias Analysis Task Force and serving on the Task Force on Gender and the Undergraduate Experience. Before coming to Duke, Helms Pickett worked at Bennett College, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, Durham Public Schools and Meredith College. She has been an instructor at Duke and Walden University, and holds numerous professional and committee appointments. She has published two books, "Later Never Came Until Now," and "Her Name is SHE."

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Where’s the Fire Now? Anti-inflammatory Eating Updates

Yes we have covered this topic before back in the fall of 2012 Inflammation-Where's the Fire?.

Back then we were presenting to you a proposed list of anti-inflammatory food to include in your diet.

These foods included healthy fats, spices, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and of course dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more).

Recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has highlighted what we have known for quite some time, many of us eat more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet and this may be contributing to heart disease.

What does this mean for us?  Not only should we consume anti-inflammatory foods every day but there are also some foods that we should try to limit our intake of as well.  If you eat too much simple sugar cutting back on the amount in your diet is important in the effort to fight chronic disease, which can be attributed to inflammation on the cellular level. Most recent studies refer to heart disease in particular.

Not everyone needs to decrease their sugar intake but if you feel that you are eating too much of the sweet stuff and you are looking for areas to cut back, consider the following:

·         Don’t Drink Your Fruit- opt for whole fruit instead of fruit juices and you will significantly decrease your intake of simple sugars and increase your intake of healthy fibers.

·         Avoid Sugar Sweetened Beverages- replace sodas, fruit flavored drinks, and sweet teas with water. Can’t give them up? Go “halfsies” by mixing half sweetened with half sugar free, unsweetened or water.

·         Be a Wise Consumer of your Favorite Hot Beverage- many coffee and tea drinks are loaded with sugar, each pump of syrup has about 5 grams of sugar, so limit the number of pumps or better yet go for a simple latte sans syrup.

·         When Baking- you can easily reduce the amount of sugar called for by ¼- 1/3 without sacrificing taste.

·         Share Desserts- if you eat them regularly. Otherwise eat what you enjoy but do so less often.

·         Enjoy!

The take home message here is you don't need to totally avoid sugar, just eat it in moderation and make the real thing count.

 

 

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