Have You Heard?

Department - Student Health

Artificial Sweeteners: Generally Regarded as Safe?

In the past we discussed options for sugar substitutes, such as honey, agave nectar, and brown rice syrup - all tasty options to sweeten your food or beverage, but that do come with a caloric punch. This week, we’ll dedicate our post to the sweeteners that are calorie-free, yet a bit controversial – artificial sweeteners. Think of those colored packets on your restaurant table, diet cola, sugar-free gum and candy, and sugar-free yogurt or ice cream to name a few – artificially sweetened substances are all around. But what are they? These synthetic sugar substitutes are sometimes derived from natural substances, such as herbs or even table sugar.  These sweeteners are many times sweeter than regular sugar and are sometimes called “intense sweeteners.”

Possible health benefits?  On one hand, artificial sweeteners don’t contain any calories, so you may think of them as a way to lower your calorie intake. However, research indicates this may not be the case, and it’s been suggested that consuming these artificial sweeteners may be associated with no change in weight or in some, an increase in weight.  On the other hand, artificial sweeteners don't contribute to tooth decay like sugar can.

Possible health risks? Benefits aside, you might be wondering if there are any downfalls to these chemicals and for good reason - these sweeteners have been the target of scrutiny for many years.  The most recent study that has been in the news shows that these sweeteners have an impact on our gut microbiota and may raise our blood glucose, which is linked with diabetes and weight gain.

Studies that date back to the 1970’s had linked some of these sweeteners, such as saccharin (Sweet’N Low, one you might not see as much of any more—the pink packet), to bladder cancer but we now know that’s not the case.  However, this doesn’t rule out the possibility of side-effects such as dizziness and headaches from modest amounts. If you experience these side effects, it’s probably best to limit or avoid these sweeteners.

Here is some more information the National Cancer Institute: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/artificial-sweeteners

Who’s regulating?  For the most part, we do have a governmental agency with our health in their best interest. Artificial sweeteners are regulated by the FDA as “food additives.” Before they are approved to be sold, they are thoroughly reviewed and determined safe by FDA. When these additives are approved, they are declared “generally recognized as safe" (GRAS).

Artificial sweeteners currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are:

·         Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One)

·         Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)

·         Neotame

·         Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet'N Low)

·         Sucralose (Splenda)

Bottom-line: if you do opt for non-nutritive/artificial sweeteners, they are, like most things, best enjoyed in moderation. Overconsumption can lead to symptoms as undesirable as gas, bloating, dizziness, and headaches.

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Take Your Nutrition News with a Grain of Salt

In the past few days, news of a recent study praising the health benefits of a low-carb diet has spread like wildfire through headlines and across the Internet.  Good Morning America featured a segment entitled, “Low-Carb May Trump Low-Fat in Diet Wars” and urged listeners to “back away from the bagel” if they were watching their figures.  TIME magazine exclaimed, “If you’re trying to lose weight, fat might be your friend” and was joined in the lipid lauding frenzy by National Public Radio whose online article leads with “Turns out, eating foods with fat…doesn’t make us fat.”  The New York Times, where I and many other students I know turn for breaking news, issued “A Call for a Low-Carb Diet” and it quickly became the most emailed story on the day of its publication.  But before we as readers get too caught up by these attention-grabbing statements, it’s important to investigate what’s really lying beneath the headlines. 

 

To start, I’ll summarize my take-aways after reading the New York Times article on this breaking nutrition news.  The article presented the findings of a study published in the September 2014 volume of the Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health – already, this is sounding highly credible with such big names on board.  The study looked at a “racially diverse group of 150 men and women” (yay for generalizability!) who were split into two groups that each received different dietary guidelines.  The low-fat group was instructed to limit their total fat intake to less than 30% of their daily calories as recommended by the federal government guidelines – seems reasonable.  The low-carb/high-fat group upped their fat intake to more than 40% of their daily calories and were told to eat mostly foods like fish, olive oil, nuts, cheese, and red meat.  Both were encouraged to eat veggies and neither group had to watch their calories nor change levels of physical activity.  At the end of a year, the low-carb group lost an average of eight pounds more than the low-fat group, had greater reductions in body fat and greater increases in lean muscle mass, and significantly lowered their heart attack risk.  Seems simple, sign me up!  I can lose weight, build muscle, and have a healthy heart just by eating my eggs and bacon, no exercise or calorie counting required. 

 

Now before you order up that next cheeseburger without its bun, it’s important to step back from the media and critically assess what the research is really telling us.  David L. Katz, a doctor and director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, published an insightful response article to the low-carb craze headlines, bringing to light some crucial caveats of the study that nearly all news articles are glossing over.  First, not all fats or carbohydrates are created equal so it’s inaccurate and counterproductive to talk about diets in such umbrella terms like low-fat or low-carb.  Secondly, it needs to be known that all study participants had BMIs categorizing them as obese, making the results not nearly as generalizable as they have been portrayed.  Lastly, the true diet conditions for the low-carb and low-fat groups in the study have been very poorly communicated to the public.  Comparing the diet guidelines given in the study with the participants’ pre-study diets reveals that the low-fat group only reduced fat intake by 5%, while the low-carb group reduced carbohydrate intake by nearly 75%.  In light of this evidence, it makes sense that the much more restrictive diet would result in greater weight loss. 

 

To conclude, Katz leads us away from the trendy diet fads and recommends eating whole foods in sensible quantities.  He also recommends that we approach health headlines with a more careful eye to see past the sensationalism that can make a good story, but not the best lifestyle advice.  It’s important to be aware that not all of the facts surrounding a research study’s methods and findings make their way into the media’s presentations.  But, that doesn’t mean that we need to write off all health and wellness news as nonsense – if a headline does make your head turn, dig a little deeper, seek out more details from primary sources, and look at what other experts and critical voices in the field have to say.  With a little extra effort, you’ll find the news that’s really worth your attention.      

 

Note of Interest: A few days after this initial media firestorm, the New York Times re-published the article with a new headline, “A Call for a Low-Carb Diet that Embraces Fat.”   

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Student Health Closed on 9/1

The Student Health Center will be closed on Monday, 9/1, in observance of the Labor Day holiday.

We will re-open with normal operating hours on Tuesday, 9/2, at 8:30am.

For after-hours care and nurse advice, please call 919-681-9355.

 
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How to Eat Like a Healthy Devil

Welcome to Duke!

Whether you are a first year student away from home for the first time, or returning as an upperclassman and ready to explore your dining options on West, you might want some tips about how to eat well on campus. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Think of healthy eating as having three components, timing, balance and mindfulness.

1.       Timing. Remember to eat regularly throughout the day; you can’t expect to get through your busy days if you don’t have energy (and food is energy!). A common mistake many students make is skipping meals or going too many hours without eating. If you have the First Year Board plan don’t forget to eat a small meal or snack to keep you going between meals.  

If you are too hungry and faced with an “all you care to eat” meal option at dinner, you are likely to overeat. You might think you are getting your money’s worth, but your body will pay the price.

 

Think you are too busy to stop and eat? There are many options for grab and go meals and snacks on West campus or Trinity Café on East.

If you have time for a sit down meal midday that’s even better.  Check out your options here.

 

2.       Balance. Make sure to include some lean protein, veggies and/or fruit and whole grains at most meals. Balancing Your Plate will keep you on the right track to healthy eating, sustained energy and weight management.

 

3.       Mindfulness. Above all remember to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are comfortably full. Eating too little or too much will keep you thinking about food instead of focused on all the other things you want to do at Duke.

Eat what you like, get enough of it and get on with your day!

 

Have a great year!

 

Additional Resources:

Healthy Eating at Duke- it’s “Devilishly” Easy

Smart Snacking

Duke Student Health Nutrition

For more information on eating well at Duke meet with a Student Health Nutritionist

919-681-9355

 

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How to Not be a Stress Zombie

Stress Zombies—we’ve all seen them. They can be easily recognized by the bags under their eyes and their beaten coffee cups. They shuffle across campus with a dazed look in their eyes, thinking about the endless list of tasks that they must complete. The mountains of books and articles surrounding a stress zombie can make it difficult to see one in its natural habitat. The most commonly seen stress zombies are usually spotted coming out of Perkins holding a warm, just-completed paper. Almost every Duke student can attest to having been a stress zombie at some point in his or her academic career. Here are some ways that you can avoid being a stress zombie:

1. Get some sleep. I know that sleep sounds like a four letter word when the assignments are piling up and you don’t how you’re ever going to pass Orgo, but I promise that you’re going to be more productive after some rest than you are when you are falling asleep on your keyboard.
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2. Schedule your study time. List your assignments in order of importance, length, and due date. Prioritize which assignments you should do first and which ones are going to require the most time. This should keep you from being up all night before a paper is due.
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3. Make time for friends. If you’re going for days without talking to your friends and only doing work, you’re going to get stressed. You need your support system to keep you on track.
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4. Find your stress relief method. Everyone has something that helps to relieve stress. It could be the gym, a walk, listening to your favorite song, playing a game, or anything else. Make time to do whatever it is that helps you to unwind.
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True Blue Academics

In my opinion, one of the more difficult aspects of the transition to college has to do with academics.  Being one of the top universities in the country, Duke’s courses are likely more difficult and demanding than what you experienced in high school.

By no means am I saying that classes at Duke are impossible to do well in, but there are simple steps you can take to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the papers, midterms, quizzes, and textbook readings Duke will throw at you. 

Time management is the key term here.  In college your focus may be drawn to countless different things: friends, sports, boyfriends/girlfriends, clubs, video games, Netflix, but it is important to keep in mind that you are here to learn.  Those things are all great, but schoolwork should be your primary objective; you will have to learn to balance fun with work and responsibility.

However, if you do find yourself struggling with a certain class, you may be able to get a student tutor through the university free of charge.  At the Academic Resource Center (ARC) located behind the marketplace on East Campus, students can apply for one tutor per semester.  Last semester, I got a tutor for my multivariable calculus class, and it definitely me helped a lot.  Unfortunately, there are not tutors available for every class taught at Duke, but the peer tutors at the ARC do cover most of the large lecture classes such as chemistry, econ, and physics.  For a full list, check out their website http://duke.edu/arc/peer_tutoring/index.php. 

Another great resource to consult about classes at Duke is the upperclassmen.  Don’t be hesitant to ask your older friends for advice on which classes to take, or even for help in a subject they are majoring in.  We love to help you guys out in whatever ways we can!

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Finding your place

It is up to you to define your college experience. Do not depend on anyone else to do that for you. Whether you chose to become a part of Greek life, SLGs, or staying independent, that is strictly your decision.

Freshman year was definitely an interesting time when it came to making friends.  I remember making so many new friends during O-Week and then suddenly seeing them disappear as time went on. This sort of thing happens throughout the year. You see your circle of friends constantly growing and shrinking. Come spring semester, a lot of your friends will be rushing fraternities, sororities, and SLGs- you may find yourself rushing too.

I ended up rushing a SLG my freshmen year and I do not regret it. I found the environment of a SLG more fitting for me than that of a fraternity.  Everyone I met during the process was welcoming and enthusiastic to meet me. I do not regret my decision of joining the Round Table community. I made so many great memories and built strong relationships. I have found my family at Duke.

I believe that my experience with finding my place at Duke was due to the fact that I was not pressured to join a specific group or organization. Everything that I did was done at my own will. I tested the waters with several things: DSG, Crew, and other clubs. Freshman year is definitely the best to time explore your options because all of your peers are also scrambling around trying to find their niche. It gets a little more difficult as the years go by as people already have established themselves in a particular group, but it is not impossible to do.

If you are willing to put in the effort, then you will get a great college experience in return. Do not sweat the small stuff. Just be yourself and have fun.

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Student Health Closed until 11 AM

The Student Health Center will be closed until 11 am today, Wednesday, 8/13. For nurse advice or healthcare options, please call us at 919-681-9355.

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Student Health Closed 8/4 AM

The Student Health Center will be closed on Monday, 8/4, until 1:30pm.

For nurse advice or healthcare options, please call us at 919-681-9355.

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Ridiculously Sweet

What's up, everyone.  I'm Steve Mazzari out of Montclair, New Jersey, and I'm heading into my sophomore year here at this ridiculously sweet place called Duke University.  Before I talk about more Duke stuff, I guess I should share a few things about my background. I've lived in Montclair my whole life and spent ten years (pre-K through 8th) at the ultra tiny elementary school Lacordaire Academy where my mom taught and is now principal.  Despite being a Jersey suburbs dude through and through, I actually went to a Catholic high school named Regis in Manhattan where I ran track and cross-country. Now I'm here in the Pratt school studying Electrical and Computer Engineering.  That's basically my whole life in, like, six sentences.

Enough about my uneventful existence, I wanna talk about you. You guys have to be pretty freaking nervous right now.  Honestly, I'd be worried about your state of being if you weren't.  When I was in your spot, I wasn't worried about leaving home or even living on my own, although that stuff is pretty scary.  It's that horrible feeling of, "Will I be happy here?  Will these people like me?  Will I like these people?  Can I do well in school and still enjoy my hobbies and have a social life?" which all kind of culminate in the "Did I make the right choice?"  All legitimate questions for sure, but let me ease some of your worry.  Duke is easily diverse enough to let you meet literally any group of people (and I don't mean ethnicity or nationality) and more than exciting enough to provide you with the exact opportunity you want, even if you don't know what you want yet.  I know these are pretty huge claims here.  I also know other colleges say the same thing, and honestly, a lot of them are right too.  That said, I can stand by Duke and my comments when I say this is truly a special place where, if you put in the effort, you will find your place and love every minute of it (like me).

Now onto O-week.  Since it was only about 11 months ago, I remember my first days as a freshman very well.  It was hot and humid and I sweat nearly the whole week but it's a crazy fun time.  You basically get a list of about a hundred things to do and you try to go to as many as you can while meeting as many people as one possibly can.  I know this is really daunting since you all just formed your friends for life in high school. And, gosh dangit, why do I have to talk to complete strangers now?  I should just sit in my room and watch Netflix for 6,700 hours and close out the year bla bla bla, but WAIT.  I need you to trust me one more time when I say it's all good because everyone is in the same boat. Everyone wants to make friends too, so the process is smoother and quicker.

As for True Blue, this is one of the main events during orientation week that will really help give you an idea about college life and ease you into the year.  It's pretty funny and a little weird too, so I won't give too much of it away, but you got to see it my future homies.  I can't wait to be friends with all you peeps, and welcome to Duke!!!

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A Whole New World

First of all, I would like to say congrats to the class of 2018 for choosing to come to Duke!  Soon you will realize that it was the best decision you have made in your entire life; personally, I could not be happier here.

My name is Justin Johnson, and I am a rising sophomore from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, home of the Krispy Kreme doughnut and Chris Paul.  I’m an alumnus of the esteemed Wilson Dorm, majoring in Economics and pursuing the Markets and Management certificate too.  Outside of the classroom, I’m on the club running team https://www.facebook.com/dukeclubrunning?ref=br_tf  and am a member of an IFC fraternity.  I graduated from a large high school where I ran Cross-Country and am proud to say that I have completed both a marathon and a half-Ironman triathlon.  So message me if you like to run, or if you don’t like to run but just want to talk.

I may have only attended school at Duke for one year thus far, but my fascination with this place goes way back to when I was just a little kid sitting in front of the TV, watching Duke dominate on the hardwood.  I grew up a Duke fan and was ecstatic to learn that I would be able to live out my dream as a student in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.  However, even though I knew Duke was the place for me, I would be lying if I said I was not a little nervous as August crept closer and closer.  I had never been to summer camp before, or even away from my family for more than a few weeks at a time, and wondered how I would adjust to living on my own in an unfamiliar town.  I wondered if I would feel overwhelmed with new classes, new people, new expectations, but I soon realized that it was all going to be alright.  If there were one piece of advice I could give you, it would be to relax.  The transition to college is similar to a roller-coaster ride, scary when you’re waiting in line but incredible once you’re strapped in. 

When you arrive at Duke a whole new world will open up to you.  That’s where True Blue comes in.  True Blue is a program sponsored by the Wellness Center designed to educate incoming students on all aspects of wellness at Duke.  We aren’t going to tell you not to drink or go to Shooters, but we will try our best to provide you the tools you need to make healthy decisions, anywhere from the Marketplace to an off-campus party.  I can’t wait to meet you all in a few weeks, but until then enjoy your summer.

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The Help

Most people do not like talking about their problems, whether they are academic, financial or emotional – especially at a place like Duke. The stigma attached to mental health issues do not mix well with the Duke community. Things become a lot more daunting when there are unrelenting expectations to be the perfect student with an immaculate academic record; this quickly tears away at one’s self-esteem and life.

When I first arrived on campus, two years ago, I was ambitious and ready to tackle whatever was thrown at me. However, following my first semester, I realized that things were not fine. I used to conquer school, but now it was conquering me. I had no one to talk to about what was going on inside my head. I thought, ‘people have their own issues to deal with’. I did not want to be a burden. Speaking about how poorly I was doing in my classes would be humiliating. In addition, being 3,000 miles away from my home did not help my situation.

No one ever thinks that they will suffer from depression until it actually happens. Before leaving for college, I always thought that I was healthy and happy with my life. I never thought that my life would spiral out of control. I isolated myself from everyone because I did not want to be perceived as crazy. I found myself unable to escape the clutches of my bed. If it was not for a close friend of mine recommending CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) to me, I am sure that I probably would have been kicked out of school.

CAPS is a beautiful thing- it really is. Before ever walking in to my first appointment, I thought that I was going to be bombarded with questions by a psychologist that thought I was crazy. That was not the case. I was asked to talk about everything that was bothering me: school, family, money, etc. I was given the opportunity to vent to someone who I knew would not judge me - they just listened and gave advice. As I continued to visit regularly, I began to feel a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I was able to breathe throughout the day with ease. Most importantly, I started to do well in school again.

If I could offer any advice to an incoming student, it would be to make an appointment at CAPS if they are ever going through some tough times. I know that the easiest thing to do is to bottle up your emotions, but that will only make things worse. Remember to always take care of yourself first.

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Giving to Gain

Hello Class of 2018! My name is Gabrielle Sawyer and I am a rising junior studying Public Policy and Markets and Management. I have just returned home to Washington, D.C. after spending a very eventful semester in SoCal with Duke in Los Angeles. In addition to taking courses with USC and Duke professors, I interned at Overbrook Entertainment on the Sony Pictures Studio lot. The decision to trade in Durham for Hollywood was an uncanny one given my calculated nature. Before leaving, I was a straight-laced pre-med student wary of exploring my lingering interests for film and media. Given the traditional nature of Duke, I never thought it possible to make a living in the entertainment industry. My perspective began to change as I connected with Duke alumni that work as successful producers, agents, and journalists. 

Giving up pre-med has been one of the most uncomfortable and stressful decisions I have made so far at Duke. Giving up the security of a stable career track has really pushed the boundaries of myself and of my family. I sometimes worry that by not becoming a doctor, I am throwing away this extraordinary opportunity to study at such a prestigious university.

Finding that spark and that passion may not come as easy for some. I am evidence of this. It is okay to be fearful of the future. Just don’t let that fear keep you from building a life full of vigor and energy.  The worst possible thing you can do during your four years at Duke is to choose a career path that does not make you happy nor challenges your abilities as an intelligent and creative human being.
This is YOUR time. Live these four years up AND make wise decisions. Have fun!

On that note, I can’t wait to meet you all! Enjoy the rest of your summer.

-Gabby

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True Blue Gloria Adedoyin

Hey folks! I'm Gloria Adedoyin. I am from Greensboro, North Carolina, and I have one older sister who graduated from Carolina. I'm a Biology/History double major with dreams of becoming a pharmacist when I graduate. I really love history especially American and pre-modern Russian history so if you are interested in that kind of thing come talk to me! I played lacrosse in high school and still love to play. I'm director of programming for DukeAfrica so stick with me, and I'll show you some really cool events we have planned related to the Continent. I am also a member of Brownstone Selective Living Group.

My experience at Duke has been incredible so far. I've had the opportunity to study abroad for two summers in both Germany & Australia, respectively. Travel is another one of my biggest interests; being able to visit new places and get credit at the same time was great. When you visit different countries or even interact with different kinds of people you find that the things that seem to be large differences between you are really only subtle nuances. It's really enlightening to find that we are all a lot more connected than we might first anticipate. ALSO, If you happen to travel to Berlin, Germany I highly recommend you visit Mustafa's for the best döner you've ever had.
 
Fun Fact: Until I received my acceptance, I was a total UNC fan. Please forgive me for my long-term lapse in judgement. I was corrupted by my sister. However, after visiting Duke on Blue Devil Days and discovering the magic that is the Gothic Wonderland, I soon realized how wrong I'd been. Aside from how pretty the campus is, East Campus and Duke's position as a leading institution of biological research were two other, major factors contributing to my decision to come here.

I remember watching True Blue as a freshman and being somewhat skeptical about the performance. I've seen enough adults attempting to convey serious messages to teenagers in "cool" "hip" or "relevant" ways only for it to come off corny and silly rather than informational. True Blue surprised me though. Students were delivering the message. Students were leading the discussions. Students that had personally (or through friends) experienced first-hand the things they were talking about and talking about them in a fun, casual way. That resonated with me a lot more deeply than some of the other information about college I'd received. And, for once I could ask questions about things I was too embarrassed or too nervous to ask. For me, True Blue delivered the most relevant advice and information because it came straight from students like me and you. I joined the True Blue cast so I could actively help in shaping that message. True Blue is there to provide you with information to make informed, decisions.

Long story short: True Blue exists to help you have the most kickass freshman (and future!) experience at Duke in the safest, healthiest way possible.

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Eating on Vacation

Vacation-time to relax and indulge, right?  Relax, yes.  Indulge?  Somewhat.  If you use this time to feel like you can really let go, then perhaps you want to ask yourself, “what is it that I want to let go of?”. Because our days are often overscheduled and demanding, we look to our vacation as a time of no scheduling and no demands -- including food.  Although doing this for a day or two may be fine, a whole week or more of “freedom eating” might present its challenges. It’s important to exhibit balance, which includes some indulgences that you like, to meet your nutritional needs.  To continue good habits while traveling, here are a few tips.

·         Aim for balance.  When eating, try to include some protein so that your meal or snack is more satisfying.  If you can include some vegetables, that’s an added bonus!  Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions once in a while (raw or cooked vegetables or fruit salad as a side, etc.).

·         Don’t “save” your calories.  It’s important to eat healthy throughout the day if you’re planning on having a heavier meal later.  If you allow yourself to become too hungry beforehand, you’ll likely overeat.

·         Be aware of portion distortion.  Many servings at restaurants are much larger than what we need.  Listen to your fullness cues and eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

·         Alcohol counts!  If you remember from our previous blogs, alcohol can be a significant source of calories.  Limit the amount you’re consuming by setting a drink limit before events.  If you need more than 2 drinks per hour, you may need to reevaluate why you’re drinking.

·         Include exercise.  Tour a town you’re visiting by foot, go for a stroll at sunset on the beach or swim in a pool or body of water for physical activity.

·         Stay hydrated.  Traveling in general can be dehydrating and warmer climates only exacerbate that.  Carry a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day.

·         Think of the 80/20 rule-if 80% of your overall diet is pretty healthy, it’s fine that 20% consists of higher calorie or “fun foods”.

Eating is all about balance-meeting your nutrient needs while including items that you really enjoy.  You can “recover” from an unhealthy day by getting on track the next day-eating meals that include all the food groups and being physically active.  Have questions?  Make an appointment with one of the dietitians at Student Health by going online or calling 919-681-9355.

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True Blue Peer For You

Hi Class of 2018! Congratulations on your recent graduations – now all that’s standing between you and Duke is a few months of summer!

My name is Ali Preston. I grew up in Tampa, FL, and graduated from Plant High School. After a freshman year spent taking Political Science, Religion, Finance, and German classes, along with an amazing Writing 101 class, I decided to dive – blind and headfirst – into a Psychology major and haven’t looked back.

I’ve recently placed myself in a somewhat unusual situation. I arrived at Duke with the Class of 2016, but I will leave with the Class of 2015. I decided that my college experience was meant to be shorter than the usual college experience, for a variety of personal reasons that have very little to do with the quality of my priceless Duke experience and very much to do with me and my future plans.

No matter how much time you spend at Duke, this chapter of your life can be absolutely incredible and simultaneously challenging/stressful – both academically and socially. I want to help you take advantage of everything Duke has to offer while preserving or even improving your physical and mental health. The mental health side of this mission is especially close to my heart. I am on the leadership team of Peer For You. We not only provide an anonymous messaging service through which students can share stories of struggle and receive empathetic (if not also helpful) responses from Peer Responders, but we also try to reach out to students on a daily basis with messages of resilience, empathy, and hope, all in an effort to transform campus culture to promote trust, vulnerability, community, and connection. We are here for you from the very beginning. (I’m a TED addict, so I just thought I’d include one of my relevant favorites for your viewing pleasure.)

Through True Blue, I hope to give you some tools to make your time at Duke into the best experience of your life thus far. Know that part of navigating your Duke experience is figuring out what the “best experience” means for you.  I’m very excited about and thankful for the opportunity to welcome you all to Duke, beginning this summer and continuing through Orientation Week. Looking forward to meeting you all in August.

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Dreaming is envisioning

My parents told me that when I was a young toddler, I wanted to be a doctor, dancer, writer, flight attendant, singer, and actor all at once. I was constantly envisioning myself as a new person each time I came up with a new profession; I was always living in the future. I could never pinpoint what I wanted to do. Duke changed that.

Duke, what’s up?! My name is Hanan (rhymes with the bomb.com), and I’m a dreamer.

When I dream, I not only escape my reality, but I imagine my life in a new way. I like to stretch reality—why can’t I be a dancing doctor who writes while being a singing flight attendant that acts on the side? The truth is—I can do all of these things, and it all begins with a simple dream. I find dreaming incredibly empowering—I am in complete control, I decide, I conquer, I achieve.

Dreaming is envisioning. While my future is still a bit fuzzy, it’s slowly manifesting itself. As a Public Policy and Global Health double major at Duke, I see myself using my health policy education to become a global citizen in the world. I hope to utilize the skills I’ve gained in the classroom to contribute to our ever-changing world. My main interest lies in humanitarian work, with an emphasis on social justice/human rights issues, women’s health, and global development.

My heart lies in Africa. I’ve traveled to Africa six different times and traveled to four different countries in the continent (hopefully more countries in the future). While some may feel like they know Africa, in reality, many people’s understanding of Africa is very limited, due to the media’s negative portrayal of the continent. Mass media fails to provide a dynamic perspective of the continent, and instead unfairly emphasizing the dysfunctions of Africa. As Mos Def once said, “if Africa stands in good stead, then the globe will be positively affected.” Thus, it’s vital for people to realize the beauty of the continent, and not be so wrapped up in the media’s narrow portrayal of Africa. Africa has a special place in me—I love its rich history, culture, traditions, and diversity. It’s why I constantly find myself gravitating towards the continent; I enjoy spending weeks on end in African countries at any chance I get.

Duke helped wipe the mist off the foggy lens that is my future, but spots of fuzziness still remains. I’m confident that things will clear up by the end of my time at Duke. And your future will clear up to; everything will work out the way it should, when it should.

Stay dreamin’
Hanan

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Diversity, Change, and You

Hello! First, I would like to give you a warm welcome into the Duke community and congratulate you for making the best decision of your life by choosing to call Duke your home for the next few years.

My name is Milton Padilla, and I am originally from the greater Philadelphia area. I am a rising sophomore double majoring in Economics and Public Policy with every intention of going to law school and running for political office (Padilla 2032!). I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to travel across the country and compete with Duke’s Mock Trial team and I am so excited to be a member of the True Blue cast this fall.

College both attracts diversity and breeds change. I used to consider myself as diverse as they come; I’m Puerto Rican and Scottish, I live in a suburban town a stone’s throw away from one of the biggest cities in the country, I listen to everything from rap to alternative, yet I was amazed by the diversity of Duke’s student population. At college, you are exposed to so many different people, ideas, and interests that your worldview will assuredly change.
So for me, True blue is not just about sticking to your core values and beliefs, but also being open to the good kinds of change that college fosters. I emphasize “good” because attending college brings just as many temptations as it does freedoms.

Pressures come frequently, and even from unexpected sources. I can remember several Saturday nights when I chose to stay in and finish homework while my parents and friends back home were messaging me things like “Where’s the party tonight?” or “I’m sure you’re out with friends.” The stereotypes surrounding the college experience will stress you out at one point or another, and that is why the Duke Wellness Center is here, to support your efforts to stay healthy and balanced while you traverse the rigorous landscape of college.

It will NOT be easy, and it will test your character and your beliefs, but if you stick to your True Blue, I can assure you it will be rewarding, and a lot of fun! Good luck!

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From a small graduating class to Duke

Hi! My name’s Brooke Beason and I’m a rising sophomore from Alabama majoring in political science.  I’m super excited about being a part of the True Blue team this year. True Blue is something unique to Duke that supports freshmen through the transition to college life.

I came to Duke not really knowing what to expect at the beginning of freshman year. I had read my Blue Book and had kept mostly up to date on (read: checked constantly) the Class of 2017 Facebook page, but that didn’t prepare me for how I would feel when I arrived on campus August 20th.

Coming from a high school graduating class of 17 students (Yes, you are reading that correctly.) to a new class of 1,700 was the single most drastic change of my life. I remember looking around the first day of orientation week. I wondered to myself how some people already seemed to have surrounded themselves with new friends while I had only met my roommate and RA.

It took a little bit of time for me to adjust to college life, but eventually I settled in and had a better first year than I ever could have imagined. As classes started, I realized that having the most (or least) orientation week friends wasn’t going to make or break my Duke experience. I got more involved in the performing arts community in Pegram and made some of the best friends of my life.

That’s why I am so enthusiastic about True Blue. I remember True Blue as being a time when older students reminded me that everyone has their niche at Duke. The True Blue program tells students about transitioning into all facets of college life; it’s not just a program about alcohol safety and sexual health, although those things are important, too. It promotes a healthy lifestyle by encouraging students to eat healthy food, be active, and get enough sleep (arguably the most difficult part of college). I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to present this information to incoming freshmen and to support them as they begin their Duke careers. See you in August!

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A Red-Headed Devil Turned Blue

My 9th grade history teacher would tease me by calling me a “red-headed devil” due to my energetic personality, and the fact that I have curly, red hair.  …Plus, he had my brothers before me - you younger siblings out there know what I mean -, but I DIGRESS!  Little did I know that three years later I would go from being a red-headed devil to a Blue Devil.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  Fate?  Yes!  Just like it is fate that you all were chosen to come to Duke!  Welcome Class of 2018!

To introduce myself… My name is Morgan Irons, and I am a rising sophomore.  I hail from the Historical Triangle, specifically Yorktown, Virginia, where all you see are trees and people dressed in 18th century garb!  If you ever need to know about colonial history, I got you!  Currently, I am deciding between a biophysics and an environmental science major to go along with my premed track.  I also participate in many activities on campus, from TEDxDuke to the campus beautification organization I created called The Campus Keepers.  However, even with everything that I do on campus, I still find time to hang out with friends and explore the Durham and Raleigh areas.  I promise you, you will feel more at home if you explore your surroundings.

Coming to Duke is a scary, intimidating transition, especially after you hear current Duke Students talk about all the stuff they do.  But, do not give into the insecurities and doubts that come with a new environment.  Life at Duke is more than what GPA you have, or how many activities you can pack into your schedule.  Believe me, I found myself wondering how I was chosen to attend Duke after hearing about my fellow classmates during Orientation Week.  But, my first year led me to find new meaning in my life.  I realized that who I become as a student, person, and friend is defined and created by me and my actions.  Just as you are coming into the time of your life where you can make decisions about your future, you now have the power to take the quirks and talents that you have and shape them into the version of yourself you want.  It may seem cliché to say, but no one is alike and that is one reason why you were chosen to come to Duke.  You are bringing something to the table that only you can bring.

True Blue is here to help you realize your potential and show you the wonderful Duke community you are entering.  We want you to have the best times of your life!  Just as I heard my first year when I saw the True Blue cast:  no matter the decisions you make or the pressures you feel here at Duke, stick to your True Blue!  Welcome to a place where your dreams become reality!  (That sounded mildly Disney-like.)  See you soon!

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