Have You Heard?

Department - Student Health

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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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.

• 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.

• 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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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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Student Health Closed Saturday 3/8

The Student Health Center will be closed on Saturday, 3/8, due to Spring Break.

For after hours care, please contact us at 919-681-9355.


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Peer For You Peer Responder Applications Open

Peer For You is now welcoming applications for Peer Responders to serve Duke students for next year.

Applications due March 16. Apply now.

We are a student-run resource that provides the space for undergraduate students to reach out for support and referrals in times of struggle. Any Duke student can send an anonymous message to one of our Peer Responders about a struggle or challenge that they are currently facing. The approached Peer Responder will respond to the message within 24 hours.

Peer responders are trained through CAPS personnel and facilitate the sharing of personal experiences and encourage students to make use of existing, supportive resources. The role of the Responder crucially is to provide an open, non-judgemental, open ear for students to express their stress. Ever felt alone at Duke? Inadequate? Marginalized? If you've experienced challenges at Duke in any way, consider applying to be a Peer Responder.

Visit the Peer For You website for more information.

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Alcohol and Spring Break

“It is wise to bring some water, when one goes out to look for water.” This is not a recent Tweet or Facebook status update, but rather, wisdom from an Arab proverb.  What does this have to do with your life as a Duke student, you say? With spring break approaching, there are many choices on what to do, whether that be traveling to Peru with the Duke Alternative Spring Break Program; canoeing and kayaking with Duke Recreation; hanging out at home; or, jaunting to the coast to catch some rays.  For some, activities will include the use of alcohol.  While most students will be responsible with the amount they consume, 42% of college students get drunk at least once during spring break (Litt et al. 2013).

The combination of drinking alcohol and possibly being in warmer weather easily brings about dehydration. Warmer temperatures aside, when someone has a standard drink (12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor in a mixed drink), he or she urinates a greater amount of water than is contained in the drink. This happens because alcohol inhibits the body’s anti-diuretic hormone (it also inhibits judgment but that is another article altogether. I would recommend making strategic decisions about how much and what to drink prior to consumption).  This leads to more water coming out than going in, even if water is included when having some drinks. In addition to the alcohol, remember that warmer temperatures promote sweating, and we need fluids to sweat. Being dehydrated and spending time in the sun, can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends drinking one nonalcoholic drink for every alcoholic drink consumed: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/SummerSafety/SummerSafety.htm. The nonalcoholic drink should not contain caffeine for two reasons: 1) caffeine is a diuretic, and 2) drinking caffeine increases the urge to move more (it is a stimulant). Alcohol decreases physical motor coordination.  The combination of increased motor activity and decreased coordination will not end well. It would be wise to keep sugar out of it, too, as drinking alcohol influences the body’s sugar levels. You can learn more about this here.  You may also want to check out the environmental-dependent tolerance section in this article.

As you consider Spring Break during these dreary months of winter, keep in mind that the goal of a break is to have fun and enjoy life!  Feeling bad because of the negative effects of alcohol takes away from the joy of vacation.  So, when headed toward warmer climates, please drink some water, replenish your electrolytes, eat a full meal prior to drinking, and have fun.  I will leave you with this:

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.” (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)



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Student Health Closed Today Until 1:30pm

The Student Health Center will be closed today until 1:30pm for a staff retreat.


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Choosing Recovery

I don’t know where to start. I was asked to write about my experience with an eating disorder, but it’s complicated. I’m anorexic, and I have been for exactly half of my life—thirteen years. To me, there’s not much to tell. I’ve known this world so intimately for so long that I simply see it as my state of being. It’s difficult to distinguish where the eating disorder stops and I begin. So, I guess I should start at the beginning…

I was eleven or twelve when I first learned about eating disorders. We watched a video in my sixth grade health class. It was one of those made for TV after-school specials that explained the seriousness and consequences of eating disorders. I remember very vividly walking through the gym after class and thinking, “I can do that.” I remember being fascinated by those girls. Their resolve. Their willpower. Their determination. It all seemed so attainable, except the part about losing control and being sick. That part seemed messy, and I knew that I could do it, and do it right.

In retrospect, and to my best guess, this is where it started. This is where I chose it. I often tell this story starting a year later, around the age of thirteen. This was the time when the symptoms became visible. However, I think I’ve always known the truth—I chose to have an eating disorder. I often lie and say it in terms that people can better understand…I say that it was a diet that got out of control. No. I wanted it. The thrill. The power. The simplicity. I don’t know what about it made it so attractive, or what it was about me that made me so inclined to pursue it. But I did, and a year later I met the criteria for anorexia nervosa.

My weight dropped from 120 to 90 lbs (and would continue to decline in the years that followed), bradycardic (with a resting heart rate of 40bbm), and orthostatic (with the nasty habit of passing out if I stood up too fast). I was constantly cold, my nail beds were blue, my skin was dry, my hair fell out by the hand-full, I outgrew all of my clothes (including children’s sizes), my bones ached constantly, and I was too tired to do anything but not eat and exercise. I was hospitalized three times. And at my worst, I was just under 80 lbs and bat-shit crazy. My life was reduced to food, weight, and exercise. I did nothing else but think about food, weigh myself, and exercise. I could go into the details, but they’re painfully boring.

I had a bunch of therapists, doctors, meds, etc., and by the end of my fourteenth year, I had gained enough weight to lose the panicked attention of my parents and healthcare providers. I was not, however, in any way better. I hadn’t changed. I had just gained enough weight to be left alone. Fast-forward thirteen years of self-loathing and resentment at having to keep up appearances, and we arrive to a relapse. The details and even the reason why are largely unimportant to me. What is important, this time, is that I made a choice. This time I chose to try and get better, instead of succumbing to the idea that is who I was. I looked in the mirror and chose a reality that is completely foreign to me. It’s scary and difficult, and I resist and fight it every day (much to the dismay of my support team). Like I said earlier, I don’t know where the eating disorder starts and I begin. I don’t know if I’ll ever know. I do know that I’m tired. I’m tired of counting calories, having nightmares about gaining weight, choosing the eating disorder over my friends, and hating myself. So, in the end, I try. I succeed and fail on a daily basis, and that’s a part of getting better. And honestly, it’s better than the alternative…loneliness, sickness, and death. All for what?


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Fad Diets…The Picture of Restriction

If you’ve made it to this page, you’ve probably seen our fad diet photo display outside the Bryan Center. If not, check it out! It’s part of our Celebrate Our Bodies Week to encourage positive body image at Duke. Here is the breakdown of the diets that are pictured and what the Duke Student Health Dietitians think of them:

Orange food?  That’s the ROY G BIV Diet.  Instead of a plate looking like a rainbow, which is what the acronym is about, it requires that only food of one color is eaten each day. So one day, only orange food is allowed.  It’s a way to restrict a person’s options of what she/he can eat, and subsequently the calories she or he might consume. Foods of different colors are high in various nutrients, which helps us to meet our body’s needs.  So the more limited a diet is in color, the fewer the variety of nutrients.

Diet Coke and cigarettes? Those fall into the vice category and make up what we’re calling the Vice Diet. Instead of getting energy from nutrients, caffeine is providing the energy and cigarettes are used as an appetite suppressant. Do we need to say why this is a bad idea? Other vices include ‘saving your calories for alcohol’ by not eating during the day and drinking at night or using other forms of drugs instead of food. All of these vices have something in common-they don’t provide the macronutrients and micronutrients that your body needs.

The Peas: Eating only limited foods. The Picky Eater’s Diet is an extreme form of orthorexia. This is when an eater takes ‘healthy eating’ to an unhealthy level and has very restrictive food choices, which are based on being “clean”, healthy, unprocessed and in some cases “untouched”. See the National Eating Disorder Association’s definition here. This diet is far too low in energy and nutrients.

Baby Food Diet. This diet requires a person to eat pureed fruits and vegetables 14 times per day. Depending on the foods chosen, this diet can be very low in protein and fiber (not to mention calories), which are nutrients necessary for an active young adult. Plus, it takes all the joy out of sharing a meal with a friend.

Protein and fat are markers of the Atkins Diet. Cutting out whole grains and most starches while limiting fruit and dairy leaves a plan that is low in carbohydrates, which you need for energy, and calcium, which is especially important for college-aged women. Low carb diets may work for older, more sedentary, extremely overweight people but they just do not provide enough nutrients for young active minds and bodies to function properly.

Lemon, cayenne, maple syrup? Those are the ingredients in the Master Cleanse. This is a VERY low calorie 10 day diet (intended for very quick weight loss – that doesn’t last). Rather than teaching you healthy eating habits, it bans all solid foods for 10 whole days. It promises to remove your body of toxins as well. In reality, what actually ‘cleanses’ your body is eating a balanced, high fiber diet.

Concerned about your diet? Make an appointment with a Student Health Dietitian by calling 919-681-WELL or check us out online. Why not, it’s covered under your student health fee!

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The Student Health Center will be open for urgent care (walk-in only) on Saturday, 2/15, from 9am until 1pm.


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Accepting Our Bodies…Accepting Ourselves: A Focus on Developing an Awareness of Black Women and Eating Issues


I am aware that I am the only one responsible for what has and will happen in my life. It is empowering to know I am in full control of my destiny. –Carol Joy

Black Women at Duke! Are you managing your stress well…to avoid the risk of developing eating issues? I am a CAPS clinician and have been working with women of color struggling with eating issues for over 20 years. The issues of perfectionism and always feeling that you need to be in control are the same for all women and especially Duke women.  Duke women are leaders and strive for excellence and perfection in all endeavors, which can make some women at Duke vulnerable to eating problems.

National Eating Disorders Awareness week is February 23-March 1, 2014. The goal is to promote  public and media attention to the seriousness of eating problems and improve education about the biological underpinnings, environmental triggers, warning signs and how to help individuals struggling with eating issues.  It is important to include Black Women and other women of color in our outreach efforts as culturally competent, mental health providers, health educators, dietitians  and medical providers.

Most college age women struggle with identity development, issues of power and voice, affirmation, validation and self-confidence .Which leaves many women vulnerable to eating problems, including Black Women and other women of color.

The impact of eating issues among Black women has been around for a long time. Essence magazine conducted a survey in 1994 to bring awareness to the issue. The survey found that 53.5 percent of their Black female respondents were at risk for developing an eating disorder. Many Black Women experience multiple forms of oppression and other life stressors. Research has shown that Black Women are more vulnerable to mental health outcomes from the impact of traumatic experiences. Black Women are vulnerable to binge eating and may use food as a way to cope with emotional distress and regulate negative emotions.


“Choose to Be Well at Duke”

Duke Resources:

Culturally Competent Assessments by CAPS Clinicians
Mindfulness/Yoga Workshops
Groups for Women of Color
Being Well Room

Personal Trainer –Wilson Gym
Nutrition-SHS –Certified Eating Disorders Dietitians
Medical Physician-SHS-Specialized Assessment for eating issues
Duke Wellness Center -Holistic Integrative Health Coaches

National Eating Disorders. Org
National Eating Disorders Association(2005) Eating Disorders in Women of Color


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21 Days: For Those Who Hate Habits

I heard once that it takes 21 days to kick-start a new habit. Stick to something for 21 short days, every day, and hey, presto, you’ve found yourself a new habit. Want to lose weight? 21 days of eating right. Feel like quitting coffee? 21 days of resisting Von der Heyden. Fit in an episode of New Girls every day? Definitely 21 days of post-class watching (or more). See, the idea is that after 21 days, it becomes easy. Repeat anything enough times and you’re bound to get stronger, both physically and mentally at the appointed task. Well I’m not sure if entirely believe that 21 is the be-all end-all magic number, but having attempted it myself, I’ll admit there’s some truth to the rule.

Interestingly, it’s been about 21 days since we emerged from winter break for the gothic arches of campus. And I recently began wondering if I’ve gotten better at doing college, if three weeks of managing new classes, caring for myself and conversing with real-life people has somehow acclimatized me to this often exhilarating, often improbable way of life.

In a way, it feels like we’ve been at Duke forever and these three weeks might have instead encompassed three months. I’m always amazed how quickly I can swap the rattling Sydney trains for the rattling C2, how briskly I can navigate from Perkins to Gross Chem, how something like talking to my parents is so easily brushed aside. It’s almost as if we never left for the glorious winter break, such is the instinctive nature of our actions.

Yet on the other hand, living at Duke never quite feels manageable. As a sophomore, there’s the expectation that by now, four semesters in, you’ve worked it out. I don’t think so. No matter how many times I’ve been assigned a long paper, it still stresses me out every time I write one. No matter how many people I’ve met, I still get nervous when I talk to some people for the first time. No matter how many times I’ve tried to clean my room, it still gravitates towards the chaos of a radioactive waste zone. 21 days of Duke everyday hasn’t necessarily made ‘doing’ Duke a habit. I doubt 200 days would make the college experience feel that way.

Yet what is considered successfully conquering the Duke experience? I have often felt unraveled here, but the beauty of success is that it is inherently subjectively. With every new semester, I have made mistakes and learned from them and achieved in other areas and rejoiced over them. There is always the sense that, slowly and surely, I become a little wiser and more self-actualized. I might never quite be used to the way things work, but perhaps it’s not habit that teaches us to be successful people. Perhaps it’s overcoming old challenges and the persistence to keep learning.

So it’s been 21 days. Have you gotten better at doing Duke? The greatest thing about that sentence is that it can mean whatever you want. You may decide to quit coffee. You may decide to start that paper earlier. Or you may decide that old habits die hard after all. At the end of the day, we don’t need to force ourselves to habitualize Duke – we’re learning anyway.

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Dear PNMs

Dear PNMs,

You're finally done. You can finally breathe and try to return to normal life, untainted by the judgment of women (yes, women, not girls) you hardly know and who hardly know you. You're done with the silly title of "Potential New Member." Some of you are new members now, some of you are not. Some of you knew what sorority you'd be in throughout the entire recruitment process because you're friends with the older members and you're a legacy and you know how to socialize with the right people. Some of you went into rush bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and completely unaware of where you'd end up and now you couldn't be more thrilled to call these new friends your sisters. Some of you got into a top-tier sorority only to experience Bid Day, alone and excluded, wondering if you made a mistake in your choice. Some of you opened your envelopes to bid cards bearing the name of a sorority you never wanted to begin with but had to list as a choice. Some of you cried on Bid Day. Some of you cried before Bid Day. Some of you didn't even make it to Bid Day.

Every single one of you dressed your best for each round. Some of you bought entirely new outfits for the process. You curled your hair, or you straightened your hair, or you tried the messy bun look or a braid or maybe you just let it go natural. Women of color, the courageous few of you probably tried to look as Caucasian as possible, because that's how you make it in this system. Some of you wore makeup, or maybe you didn't (but you probably did). All of you went into this whole process knowing that you would be judged (on how you looked). Before each party, you would ask the women next to you in line if you had any granola bar stuck in your teeth (the Convention Center refused to feed you...as if Potential New Members of sororities needed another thing to worry about). You'd pop a mint or a piece of gum, and hope no one could tell how much you were sweating.

You enter the room to clapping, singing, shouting, and other overwhelming noises. You are surrounded by smiling, laughing, happy, "beautiful" women who have been granted the power of judging you and deciding your social fate simply because the system favored them in one way or another. You make small talk about majors and hometowns with women who seem truly, genuinely interested in you. You try to be as engaging as possible. You try to stand out, but not too much. You leave the party feeling good about how your conversations went, relieved that rush isn't as scary as everyone made you think it would be.

Before the next round, your Gamma Chi gives you the tiny slip of paper (that you'll try all day not to lose) listing all the parties you've been invited back to. Some of you get all of your top choices (and you knew you would); some of you are pleasantly surprised by how many you got invited back to. Some of you realize the conversations you were so confident went so well didn't go as well as you thought, because some of you get "cut." Some of you get "cut" by several sororities. Some of you drop out of rush.

Some of you get called back to all of your top choices for the next two rounds; your conversations move beyond small talk and you start to see these women (who will judge you) as friends, as Potential New Sisters. Some of you tell your friends what sorority you know you'll join; some of you get over-confident. Some of you receive your slip on the day of Round 4, only to be crushed by the power of judgment. Some of you finally get cut. Some of you move on, making the best of it all and continuing with recruitment. Some of you quit.

And now, fast forward through preference night and Bid Day and it's over. Now, whether you're in a sorority or not, you can look back on the process and reflect. If you didn't end up where you thought you wanted to be, you may blame yourself. You're not pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough or unique enough. And if you're saying any of these things, you're wrong. But no matter how many times your friends and family tell you you're perfect just the way you are, that it's the sorority's loss that they missed out on you, you won't believe it. Because you still got cut. You weren't enough. You didn't fit the mold established by a system that encourages and promotes young women judging other women on entirely superficial standards. And even though you should believe and know that you are worth so much more than the meaningless and unfair judgments of girls who do not know you, that you are beautiful because you are you, that your worth is not determined by the letters or lack of letters on your sweatshirt, you will still probably think that there is something wrong with you, when, in fact, there is nothing wrong at all.

And if you did end up where you wanted to be, you're probably ecstatic right now. And you should be happy and excited, because you are special. You might start to see yourself as better than other women; you were selected, they were not. You are in a certain sorority, while they are in another. And while it's easy to do this, and the system reinforces this thinking, you can't let these letters change the way you act or treat people. Because just days ago, you were a PNM just like everyone else. No one is better than anyone else in this system, despite what some may think. You are just as terrified as everyone else of being judged.

So, PNMs, or NMs, or independents, or whatever title you prefer, I urge you to take your new letters or lack of letters with a grain of salt. In the end, they are simply letters. We attach meaning and significance to them, no doubt, but they do not define you or anyone else. Ultimately, what matters is not the judgment of women you hardly know who hardly know you, but instead, the fact that you are awesome, wonderful, kickass you.


Sorority Member Still Being Judged

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Dorm Cooking

Returning to Duke’s dining scene after a winter break of home-cooked meals and special holiday treats may be underwhelming for some, but there’s no need to feel limited by the regular offerings on campus.  To add variety to your everyday eating routine, try preparing some of your meals and snacks right in your dorm room or dorm kitchen.  Cooking need not be overwhelming – many satisfying options can be prepared quickly and easily just by following a few basic tips!

Start Simple: When looking for dorm-appropriate recipes, choose ones that keep the ingredient count low and don’t require many pots, pans, bowls or specialty ingredients or equipment.  Few ingredients doesn’t have to mean bland taste, however.  Consider keeping balsamic vinegar, salsa, salt and pepper, or a few of your favorite spices (cinnamon, cumin, paprika, nutmeg) or herbs on hand to add flavor. 

The Microwave is Magic: While at first it might only seem good for popcorn and frozen dinners, the microwave is one of the most versatile tools in the dorm kitchen.  Invest in a glass or ceramic dish or bowl and check out recipes for microwaved omelets, steamed meat and veggies, rice, oatmeal, “baked” apples, and mug cakes.

Find a Friend: Sometimes it’s hard to buy ingredients in quantities appropriate for only one person, so find a friend to cook with, share time in the kitchen, and split the grocery bill!     

Double Duty: Many basic ingredients can work double duty in different recipes.  Consider using peanut butter not just in sandwiches, but also in a simple sauce for noodles.  Use a jar of tomato sauce not just over pasta, but over veggies and meat as well.  Also, consider making a double batch of whatever you’re preparing and save some in the fridge for later in the week.   

Ease into the Equipment: Don’t think you need to go out and buy a kitchen full of pots and pans to start cooking in the dorm.  Check out the refrigerator, microwave, and stove in dorm common kitchens and ask your house council about any communal equipment that might already be available. If you think you’ll be cooking for yourself often, it might be worth investing in a set of measuring cups, a sharper paring knife, and a small selection of oven and microwave-safe dishes. 

To get started in the kitchen, try out this easy and healthy microwave recipe for a stuffed Mexican sweet potato.  Look for more recipes online at Duke Student Health Nutrition’s Cook’s Corner- Dorm Room Cooking.  Bon appetit!

Stuffed Mexican Sweet Potato

• 1 medium sweet potato
• 2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
• 1/3 cup black beans
• ¼ cup salsa
• ¼ avocado, diced (optional)
• ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
1. Prick potato several times with a fork.
2. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 7 to 8 minutes (rotate potato half-way through) or until tender.
3. Split potato and fluff with fork.
4. Top potato with black beans, salsa, avocado and cheese.


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Multivitamins-a Waste of Money or a Form of Health Insurance?

In the past month, there has been much to-do about the benefits of multivitamins, or lack thereof.  While headlines can be catchy, they often take a small piece from a research study and ignore the rest of the details.  The article by NPR focuses on 3 studies and then gives an overarching recommendation, disregarding the unique samples that were studied.  The studies don’t address women of childbearing age or those with nutritional deficiencies.  One study reported poor compliance rate, so it’s unknown whether the effects were due to supplementation or not.  None of the studies reported harm from taking a multivitamin.

So what does this mean for you?  Before deciding if you should take a multivitamin or supplement, check with your doctor and read the National Institute of Health’s “What You Need to Know” article.  Rather than a “one size fits all” statement, it’s important to understand your needs in terms of micronutrients.

Here are our recommendations for supplement use:

  • Check with your doctor before starting any supplements to be sure you’re taking the correct dose and that it isn’t interacting with any other medications you’re taking. 
  • Taking  ½ of a multivitamin twice a day is best.   A multivitamin can supplement what may be lacking in your diet.  If you eat the same thing all the time or a less than healthy diet, it’s a good idea to take a multivitamin
  • No mega vitamins, which are defined by an amount 10x the recommended dose.  Just because the recommended amount of a vitamin or mineral is good, it doesn’t mean that more is better.  Some vitamins taken at high doses, such as vitamin A, which is not the same as beta-carotene, are harmful.  Only take the recommended amount advised by your doctor.
  • Women and men have different needs for folic acid, iron, calcium and other micronutrients.  Choose a vitamin that meets those needs but doesn’t exceed them.  Here are some guidelines in choosing multivitamin.

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Taking Nutrition on the Road

You did it, finals are over and it is time for a month away from the books. Whether you are working, taking it easy, or have a great trip lined up, chances are you will be traveling at some point during the winter break.  Let’s face it when traveling there isn’t an abundance of appetizing and energizing snack options, also eating on the road can be a budget buster. With a little advanced planning you can satisfy your taste buds and save yourself some time and money.

Here are our top picks for energizing snacks that travel well:
• Nuts and trail mix (without added salt)
• Granola or cereal bars that have some protein and fiber (look for those with at least 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber)
• Dried fruit or fruit leathers (a small handful will do)
• Small juice box sized flavored milks travel well and don’t need refrigeration (either dairy or soy are a great source of protein and taste good to boot) but certainly taste better cold.
• Nut butters and whole grain crackers
• Fresh fruit such as apples, clementines, oranges and most other fruits don’t need refrigeration and travel well.
• Consider jerky—although high in sodium it packs a hunger satisfying protein punch and truly travels well.
• If you have access to a cooler, pack some string cheese, hummus and veggies, sandwiches or even yogurt (although hard to eat if you are the driver—eat this while visiting a rest area).

Don’t forget some water and your GPS!

What do you pack to snack on (if anything) when you travel? Let us know-we’d love to hear from you!


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Student Health East Is Closed

Student Health East is closed through the end of the Spring 2014 semester. We are available to address your health concerns at the main Student Health Center on West Campus, located on Flowers Drive across from Duke Gardens. Please call us at 919-681-9355, or you may schedule an appointment online: http://studentaffairs.duke.edu/studenthealth/make-appointment

In the event of an emergency or life-threatening illness, please call 911.


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Duke hires new counseling director

Duke University Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek announced today that Dr. Wanda Collins has been hired as the new director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Duke. Collins, currently the director of the Counseling Center at American University in Washington, D.C., will start March 3, 2014, in this critical campus role.

"Collins has a keen understanding of college counseling centers and trends related to mental health issues in higher ed today," Wasiolek said. "Her resume is incredibly impressive, and her references are stellar. She is clearly committed to multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion, and possesses an inspiring competence, confidence and poise. I have no doubt that Wanda will be a great asset to the health and wellness community on campus," Wasiolek added.

A nationwide search was conducted for a new director, pulling in a number of well-qualified candidates from across the country. Faculty, administrators and students participated throughout the interview process. Collins, who has spent the past 15 years as a member of the Counseling Center at American University and the last eight as Director, rose to the top.

"I am very impressed by the CAPS staff, the trainees, the students, and all campus partners I met during the interview process. It was also clear in my meetings that CAPS is highly regarded on campus and well supported by the senior administration, which I believe is critically important," Collins said. "I'm looking forward to working with the students, as well as getting to know the staff better and figuring out how I can support and contribute to them and an already great counseling center."

"I have been fortunate to work with a staff and colleagues who I admire and respect. However, after 15 years at American University, I am poised for this new challenge at Duke University," Collins said, adding, “I am also excited to explore the Durham area, learning about the different communities and cultural events, finding new restaurants, and hiking the parks and forests.”

Collins holds a Ph.D. and MS in counseling psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, an MA in General Psychology from American University, and a BS in Public Relations from Andrews University. She is currently Vice President of the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS) and Chair of the Board of Accreditation for IACS, and holds a number of other professional service positions and affiliations. In addition to leading numerous seminars and workshops, she has held a faculty position with Washington School of Psychiatry since 2011 and an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Psychology at American University since 2009. She has also given numerous professional presentations.

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“Nutrition Analysis = Dietary Paralysis”

I can’t take credit for the quote but boy did this resonate with me. It would appear that we have moved in a direction where we use numbers to validate everything about us:  BMI and weight speaks to our appearance,  grams of protein, fat, and carbohydrate tell us how “healthy” we are, body fat analysis speaks to our leanness, grades speak to our intelligence, and bank statements touch on our wealth.   I can’t help but wonder if this “numeric trend” isn’t having a negative impact on life satisfaction, but particularly on how we feel about our food and dining experiences – it has certainly lead to a lot of confusion about what to eat. Daily, I meet with people that tell me they eat “healthy” but then go on to say they’re not satisfied, or worse yet, don’t like what they’re eating—how healthy is that? Eating was never intended to be a numbers game, food is not a number. Food is nourishment, enjoyment, satisfaction, love, comfort and I could go on and on, but it’s not a number! As long as we use numbers to tell us how well we’re doing or how healthy we are, we’ve lost sight of what’s important; the enjoyment of eating and the company of the people that share our gastronomic experience.  Food is a party for our senses, (mindfulness) but we lose sight of that when the numbers are driving the show. Although, clearly there are times when food  analysis is appropriate,  it is however, not something that should be done daily (APPs) or even weekly but rather only as need dictates. As we approach the holiday season and we think about our good fortune to have access to ample food, let’s not waste the opportunity calculating our caloric and nutrient needs, but rather focus on the smells, tastes and textures of the food that we are fortunate enough to share with good company.


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“Is This Still Good?” – Part Two: Reheating Your Leftovers

If you read part I of this blog post “Is This Still Good”, you have learned how to store your leftovers and done so in a safe manner. Now it is time to reheat them and dig in, but wait we have more to tell you. Did you know that the way you reheat your leftovers is important too? Check out our advice below.

• Always cover your leftovers when reheating them. This helps keep the heat internal and allows for more even heat distribution. Additionally this will prevent evaporation and keep food from drying out so that your leftovers taste as good as the first time you ate them.
• If you are reheating sauces, gravies or soups bring them to a rolling boil.
• Never thaw frozen foods at room temperature. Allow enough time for foods to thaw in the refrigerator. You can also use the microwave, but you should keep a food thermometer handy to ensure internal heat comes to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Limit reheating to no more than one time since the more often food is cooled and reheated the greater the potential for bacteria to multiply.
• Use glass or ceramic for microwave heating.

Remember to follow guidelines for how long to you can keep those leftovers (guide), and regularly clean out your fridge and freezer.

Bon Appetit.


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