Choosing the Lesser Evil

Article from our sister site Healthy in College!

One of the best parts of being away at school is the ability to make choices independent from your parents. Food and drink options are included in the realm of indecision, and students may become distraught when choosing which option is healthier. Below are some common nutritional showdowns that students are confronted with on a daily basis.

Diet Coke vs. Coffee

Caffeine is never a healthy option when compared to water, but sometimes you just need to get your fix. Although diet coke may seem like the better choice due to its calorie content of zero, but diet soda is full of chemicals and recent studies have linked it to weight gain and stroke. Coffee, on the other hand, has been shown to increase metabolism, and coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of liver and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Just don’t go crazy with the cream and sugar!

Wrap vs. Sandwich

Both are widely available on college campuses and can come with a variety of contents from Thai chicken to ham and cheese. Obviously the healthier choice depends on the insides, but when it comes to a decision of wrapping up your turkey, cheddar and tomato in a wheat tortilla or sandwiching it between two slices of wheat bread, the latter is the better option. The generic brand of wheat tortillas (and lets face it, most campuses use generic products) can include oils that give it that density and the high carbohydrate content.

Pretzels vs. Baked Chips

It seems that most meal plan packages include the choice of chips as a side. Although traditionally pretzels have seemed healthier than regular potato chips, baked chips are the better option. With half the calories and half the carbohydrates and an alarmingly less amount of sodium (the baked chips have 700mg less!), baked chips can be good in moderation as a crunchy sidekick to a sandwich.

Goat Cheese vs. Cow Cheese

As a topping on salads or an addition to a sandwich, cheeses are an important part of the american diet. Cow’s milk cheeses are more available on college campuses then goat cheese, but if you can alternate goat cheese for any cow cheeses, do it. Goat cheese is easier to digest and less likely to have hormones, plus it is typically lower in calories, fat content, and cholesterol. Try adding goat cheese to a spinach salad with strawberries, pistachios, grilled chicken and drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette!

Yogurt & Granola vs. Milk and Cereal

Two breakfast essentials, these options are typically the go-to for on the go college students. Of course, as with all things, it depends on the type of cereal (put down the Lucky Charms), milk (choose skim!), yogurt, and granola (skip the sugary stuff), but the nutritional match up is a close one. Granola can be higher in calories, but the protein in yogurt and the fiber in granola will keep you full longer. Plus, when was the last time you were satisfied by one bowl of cereal? Healthy in College loves Bakery on Main granola (Gluten Free!) paired with Greek yogurt.

Chicago’s Best NEW Workouts

Chicago Magazine unveiled the best new workouts in the city.  Guess what?  Healthy in Chicago agrees!

Here are the workouts that made the cut.

GoCycle-amazing cycle studio in Old Town. Check out their new Go Pump class which combines spinning with strength training.  Or Emmy’s spin and abs or spin and yoga combo class!  Your first class is FREE sign up now!

Barre Bee Fit- Read Healthy in Chicago’s review on the studio HEREFREE classes every Saturday in February at lululemon athletica Rush.

iFit Fitness-River North’s newest gym and boy did this neighborhood need a gym!

Tactix-for those who enjoy martial arts!

Crossfit-A Healthy in Chicago favorite.  Read more HERE and get one month free!

Now’s the time to try them out-what do you have to lose?

3 Tips for Getting Back on (the Healthy) Track

 Have the gray, cold, dreary days taken your healthy New Year intentions captive? Don’t worry; all is not lost!  Usually, when we make a commitment to turn over a new leaf, the first few days – or weeks – can seem effortless.  We are caught up in the excitement and have fun changing up the foods we eat and adding new variety our fitness routine. 

 But then IT happens. 

Something catches us off guard:  a fight with a loved one, an extraordinarily busy work schedule, or a cold that just won’t seem to go away.  Whatever it is, once your new routine is disrupted, it is common to seek solace in your past habits.  We begin to crave the foods that comfort us and zoning out in front of the TV becomes much more appealing than working up a sweat.  You tell yourself you’ll just take a day off, but days quickly turn into months, and you find yourself making the same resolutions every year! 

 Does this sound familiar?

 The truth is, life has a way of always getting in the way.  Try as you might, everyone get sick, stressed out, and has disagreements.  The key lies in being prepared for the bumps in the road.

1. Make a list of activities that comfort you – and don’t involve food: Some of my all time favorites: catching a yoga class, taking a warm bath, and meeting a friend for tea.  These all help me to reconnect to myself, my intentions, and put things into perspective.  

2. Schedule in healthy activities into your calendar:  It’s easy to get lost in our busy schedules.  Don’t just wait to see how the week unfolds to figure out when you will get in activity or stock up at the grocery store.  At the beginning of the week, plan when you will exercise, grocery shop, and if you want extra bonus points – plan your meals for the week.  This will help keep you organized and prevent last minute take out. 

3.  Get Support!  Whether you turn to a good friend, fitness trainer, or health coach, it is important to make your goals heard and establish accountability.  This helps to keep you focused on your goals, and is an excellent resource to turn to if you fall off track.  It is important to stay in touch or have occasional sessions even when everything is going.  This will help to increase momentum, build trust, prevent relapses, and most importantly – get you back on track if you happen to slip. 

Amanda Skrip provides culinary and wellness services to inspire healthy living.  She specializes in food-based cleanses, weight-loss, and eating for energy.  In addition to working with private clients, she teaches natural foods cooking classes around the city.  Visit her website to and be sure to check out the blog, event schedule, and sign-up for the newsletter – www.amandaskrip.com