Hungry for More? Food and Safer Sex Practices

Written by Natalie Fiato, Wellness Coordinator, Civility and Sexual Health Promotion

When someone typically thinks about food and sex, the first thought may be a nice dinner for two on Valentine’s Day, or on the less conventional side, perhaps a pair of edible underwear.  Long-standing cultural beliefs suggest that eating certain foods before sex can enhance your mood (libido), and includes things such as oysters, chocolate, and hot chilies.  While there is a long list of foods considered aphrodisiacs (see additional resources below), there is also an important list of food items that should not make their way into the bedroom (or really into any sexual play at all).

Generally, it’s not a good idea to put most food items near, on, or in the genitals, as they may cause irritation, potential infection, and risk getting stuck or lost inside of you.  This is especially true for the female reproductive anatomy and high-sugar foods (think whipped cream, honey, jelly, or chocolate syrup) that can alter the body’s natural pH and create the perfect conditions for a yeast infection.  While the idea of food play may entice you, health professionals generally recommend you keep food to sexual activity at the waist and above.  It is also worth mentioning that it is a good idea to ask your sexual partner(s) in advance if they are allergic to anything, to keep everything and everyone comfortable!

Another area where food and sex may mix involves lubrication.  Most barrier methods (think condoms, gloves, finger cots, and some dental dams) contain latex, a material that is incompatible with oil-based lubricants.  What this means is that certain forms of lubricant (what you may find in your kitchen) used during sex will eventually degrade the barrier method to the point of breakage.  While it may seem like an appealing, low-cost solution to swap out pharmacy-grade lubrication (typically formulated with water or silicone) for an oil-based product in your kitchen, the result may be undesirable.  Examples of items to stay away from include any natural oils (such as vegetable, avocado, olive, or coconut oil); if you are still keen on using a more natural product in the bedroom, please refer to the additional resource listed below.

To conclude, there’s always a place for water and proper hydration when it comes to sex.  Staying well hydrated is key to not only your physical health, but your sexual performance and personal comfort as well.  Drinking too much alcohol can actually have a strong adverse effect on sexual performance, stamina, and satisfaction. There is no limit, however, to how many chocolate-covered strawberries you or your BAE can consume.

Additional Resources

Facts About Fats

Kelsey Hirsch, Human Nutrition Dietetic Intern

In recent years, fat has gotten much recognition and applause, contrary to what was occurring in the 1970’s and 1980’s during a low-fat food craze. The fact is fats, also known as lipids, are an important and essential nutrient our bodies need to function properly. For instance, fat helps to:

  • Provide our bodies with energy (9 calories per one gram of fat)
  • Absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, K
  • Provide us with omega-3 fatty acids that helps with brain and nervous system function, supports heart health, and reduces inflammation in the body
  • Increase HDL or “good” cholesterol
  • Support cell growth
  • Protect organs
  • Assist with body temperature regulation
  • Develop hormone production

However, it is important to note that the types of dietary fat we consume can come from different food sources and have an impact on our health.

Unsaturated Fat

  • Can raise good (HDL) cholesterol
  • Can lower bad (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and risk of heart disease & stroke
  • Usually plant-based, with exception to seafood and eggs

Food Sources

  • Seafood (i.e. salmon, tuna, shellfish)
  • Oils (i.e. canola, walnut, flaxseed, sunflower, avocado, etc.)
  • Nuts and seeds (i.e. peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, etc.)
  • Avocado/guacamole
  • Olives
  • Eggs

Saturated Fat

  • Can raise bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, increase risk for heart disease and stroke, and can lower good (HDL) cholesterol
  • Usually animal-based, with exception to coconut oil

Food Sources

  • Butter, lard
  • Coconut oil, palm oil
  • Beef, bacon, sausage
  • Cream
  • Cheese
  • Cookies and other desserts (i.e. ice cream)

Trans Fat or Partially Hydrogenated Oils

  • Can raise bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase risk of heart disease and stoke
  • Can lower good (HDL) cholesterol
  • Increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes

Food Sources

  • Fried foods
  • Baked goods
  • Processed snacks

Note: a food package can say “trans fat free” and still contain 0.5 grams per serving.

As a general guideline, aim for 20-35% of your calories from total fat, with less than 10% of it coming from saturated fat. For instance, based on a 2,000 calorie diet, that’s 44-77 grams of fat a day, with 22 or less of those grams from saturated fat.

Additional Resources

Types of Fat

Dietary Fats

Brain Food

Written by Kelsey Hirsch, Human Nutrition Dietetic Intern

Do you ever feel like what you eat influences your mind, memory, or mood? Believe it or not, the foods we consume can have an influence on our brain and its function. Foods that tend to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, nuts/seeds, avocados) and antioxidants (fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds) can help to protect our brains and contribute to our nutrient needs. Conversely, processed foods that are higher in fat, sugar tend to be associated with increased likelihood of depressive moods.

A study explored the impact of fruits and vegetables, alcohol, body weight, and smoking on mental wellbeing (“feeling good and functioning well”). Researchers found that an increase in fruit and vegetable intake had a positive outcome on mental wellbeing, compared to the other factors mentioned above. Smoking cessation also improved mental wellbeing (i.e. reduced depression, anxiety and stress; improved positive mood and quality of life).

Another study found that those who consumed more fruits and vegetables had more positive emotions and interactions and “reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally do”; these feelings followed them to the next day. On the other hand, consumption of a western diet (fried, sugary, refined foods) was linked to a higher incidence of clinical depression and anxiety, mainly in adult women, compared to a diet high in fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and whole grains.

Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Seafood: salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring
  • Nuts/seeds: walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds
  • Plant oils: soybean oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil
  • Fortified foods: certain eggs, yogurt, milk, soy beverages
  • Avocados

Foods that contain antioxidants

  • Fruit: berries, citrus, apples, pomegranates, etc.
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, carrots, peppers, kale, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
  • Nuts: walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, etc.

For improved brain function and mood, consume a mix of fruits and vegetables, along with foods that have healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado and seafood.

For additional tips and resources on food and mental health, check out the Emotional Fitness blog of R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist.

Fads, Hacks, and Hoaxes…OH MY!

Kelsey Hirsch, Human Nutrition Dietetic Intern

We all have encountered it before- “lose 10 pounds in 1 week!”, “try this new detox to lose inches”, “do this workout just 5 minutes a day to lose 20 pounds in a week!”, etc. It’s on our media feed, in the checkout line, and on the TV. It’s great to prioritize our health and we need to feed our bodies the nutrients it requires, however, there are many fads, hoax, hacks, quick fixes, and cure-alls out there. As you sift through nutrition and diet information, it is important to be aware of a few things.

  • What works for one person might not work for everyone else. Our bodies have different nutrient needs based on several factors (age, gender, activity, height, etc.) that may cause an increase or decrease in how many calories we should consume.
  • Many of the ads that promise a “quick-fix” or a “cure-all” will typically cut a whole food group or create food rules around when, how much, and what to eat. This could potentially lead to disordered eating or an unhealthy relationship with food.
  • Most of these diet promises are not long term. If the habit is temporary, then the result will likely be temporary as well.
  • Also, the science and evidence behind these are not credible or not well supported.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when reading new information:

  • Who and/or what is the source? Is it reliable? Is someone being payed to advertise/promote a product?
  • Does it seem too good to be true?
  • Is it long-term?
  • Does it restrict foods or categorize them into being “good” or “bad”?

So what should you do to improve health and ensure you receive adequate nutrients from what you eat without going on a diet?

  • Consume foods from a variety of food groups– fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.
  • Along with that, try to consume a variety of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) in a meal or snack to keep you fuller longer.
  • Eat about 3 meals and 1-2 snacks throughout the day to ensure you are properly fueling your body.

Want personalized advice? Set up a nutrition appointment in the Student Wellness Center!

Additional Resources

Nutrition Misinformation: How to identify fraud and misleading claims


Creating Healthy Goals for 2020

Written by Janele Bayless, LPC, RDN

As you set your sights on a New Year and decade of life, you might be considering – or have already started to engage in – resolutions you’ve created for yourself to enhance your life. For many, those resolutions often entail taking care of one’s health, usually in the form of weight management strategies.

If you’re considering following a particular diet, check out the U.S. News and World Report’s 2020 ranking of best (and worst) diets. Their hallmark for a “best” diet includes balance, maintainability, palatability (tastes good), family-friendliness (social engagement), sustainability, and healthfulness.

To start your health goals on a positive trajectory, consider the following guidelines:

  • Are your goals healthy enough for others to follow?
  • Do your goals take into account your personal strengths or values?
  • Are they goals YOU want to achieve versus parents, friends, etc.?
  • Do your goals positively or negatively impact your health (mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, spiritually, financially, academically)?

Not sure how to get started with your health goals? Consider the following resources:

Check out additional resources below, and cheers to health and a happy New Year!


Top 10 recipes from 2019

  1. Black bean, quinoa and veggie bake
  2. Pumpkin zucchini bread
  3. Carrot cake baked oatmeal
  4. Slow-cooker green and white chicken chili
  5. Zucchini tacos
  6. Chocolate nut butter cups
  7. Mediterranean chickpea quinoa power bowl
  8. Kung pao pasta
  9. Blueberry baked oatmeal cups
  10. Greek lentil power bowl

How to Address Diet Talk Around the Holidays

Written by Janele Bayless, LPC, RDN

Holidays can be fun and relaxing, as well as stressful and overwhelming. As people gather around the table to celebrate holidays and feast on food, a variety of topics may come up, including comments about food and dieting. While it’s common to bond over food, discussions around dieting can be triggering for those struggling with body image and eating concerns, or trying to practice intuitive eating. Below is a variety of scenarios with responses that could help as you navigate the holidays.

If people make comments about your body or food choices, try phrases like:

  • My body and my food intake are not up for discussion.
  • This isn’t something I want to talk about right now.
  • Those comments make me uncomfortable. Let’s talk about something else.
  • Remember when I told you how I’m working on listening to my body around food and feeling better in my body? Those comments make it hard for me, let’s talk about something else.

When someone tries to talk with you about their diet:

  • Say something like “It sounds like you’ve found something that works for you” and then change the subject.
  • If the conversation is really triggering and bothering you, excuse yourself from the conversation and go elsewhere to give yourself a break from the diet talk.
  • If you feel comfortable, you can share more about why you’re no longer dieting, what you’re doing instead, and how you have been feeling so far.

When you order a salad and someone says “Oh! We’re being good today, aren’t we?”

  • You can say,“Eating a salad doesn’t make me a better person – it’s just what I’m in the mood for.”

When you want dessert after dinner and someone says “I can’t eat dessert or I’ll gain X pounds if I eat that.”

  • You can say,“That’s not how bodies work. Our bodies can use all types of foods and this is what sounds good to me right now.” Or, “I used to think that too, but ever since I’ve been listening to my body about what it really wants and needs, I’ve been able to enjoy my dessert – and all foods! – so much more.”

When someone asks if you want to join them in a cleanse after the weekend:

  • You can say,“No thanks! Those never make me feel good – I always feel tired and irritable, and restricted. I’d rather eat foods that nourish and satisfy me. But if you want to grab lunch afterwards, I’d love that.”

When an account you follow on social media posts a calorie-based meal plan, transformation photos, or a list of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods:

  • You can unfollow them and fill your social media feed with diverse, body positive and non-diet accounts.

If someone says, “If I ate like that, I’d be X pounds more/less.”

  • You can say,“We all have different food preferences and needs – this is working for me today.”

If someone starts talking about their new diet/weight loss plan:

  • You can change the subject and say,“Speaking of new things, have you watched that new show ______ on Netflix? It’s so good!”

If someone says, “I’m going to be bad and go up for more food – that dish is just so good!”

  • You can say,“Don’t be silly, there’s nothing ‘bad’ about eating! If you still want more, you should have more, the food is amazing!”

If someone says, “My problem is I can never stop eating once I start.”

  • You can say,“I’ve been working on tuning into my internal cues around hunger and fullness – it’s been such an eye-opening experience to really feel like I can give my body what it needs and wants, and feels more satisfying.”

While these situations may not always be comfortable or convenient, having different responses ready can help you feel prepared and experience more freedom and peace with food as you navigate the holiday season.

What are your favorite go-to statements in response to diet talk/culture? Email to share. Happy holidays!

Study Tips for Finals Week

Written by Kera Cashman, Medical Dietetics Intern

Finals week is here and we know that means students are studying for long hours and getting less sleep. To help fuel your body for long study sessions and keep your energy levels up throughout the day, consider these tips:

  • Fuel your body by eating within 1-2 hours of waking up and every 3-4 hours after that. For those who forget to eat, it may be helpful to set alarms on your phone to remind yourself.
  • If you’re studying at the library, pack meals that give you a mix of macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat), along with a fruit or veggie. Examples include:
    • Sandwich or wrap with protein (i.e. chicken, turkey, tofu), cheese, veggies, hummus or avocado
    • Peanut butter and banana sandwich, protein shake
    • Protein bar or shake, fruit with nuts or nut butter
    • Tuna salad with crackers, yogurt, fruit or baby carrots
    • Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts
  • When hungry between meals and to sustain your energy levels throughout the day, have a snack that includes a protein or dairy source with a grain, fruit or veggie. Examples include:
    • Hummus with veggies
    • Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit
    • Hard-boiled egg and fruit
    • Fruit with nuts or nut butter
    • Protein bar or shake with fruit
  • Take a 5-minute study break every 1-2 hours by doing something active, such as going for a walk, taking the stairs, folding laundry or washing dishes. This will get your energy levels back up!
  • Avoid drinking too much caffeine to prevent crashing later or affecting the quality of your sleep. The recommended amount is 2-3 cups of 8 oz of coffee per day. Check out our caffeine handout for more information.
  • Instead of eating when not hungry while studying, consider alternative activities, such as drinking a beverage (i.e. water, tea, flavored water), chewing gum, listening to soft music without lyrics, using a fidget cube or silly putty, etc.

Good luck with finals!

A Piece of Advice for Thanksgiving Day

Written by Janele Bayless, LPC, RDN

Thanksgiving, among other holidays, is coming up and while most people enjoy celebrating with food, it can also be a time of uncertainty or even stress for how to navigate the food festivities.  If I could offer one piece of advice for Thanksgiving day, among other holidays, it would be this: normalize the day.

If you think about it from the body’s perspective, it knows no difference between a week day versus a weekend, a holiday versus a regular day, etc. Rather than focus on one meal of the day, consider ways to normalize your experience similar to other days. Examples include:

  • Eat within 1-2 hours after waking up and every 3-4 hours after that. By spreading your food intake throughout the day, you maintain your energy levels and avoid overeating at one meal.
  • Do something active such as going for a walk or participating in your local Turkey Trot.
  • Create balanced meals that include three or more food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein) with at least one protein or dairy source and one fruit or vegetable.
  • Identify what foods you really want to indulge in and allow yourself to have it. Consider a couple of portion control strategies you can try that allow you to have the foods you enjoy without overeating or feeling stuffed. Even if you do overeat, it’s one meal a year that’s meant to be enjoyed.
  • Find alternative activities you can do when not hungry or after your Thanksgiving meal.

Additional Resources

A Dietitian’s Advice for Stress-Free Holiday Eating

Intuitive Eater’s Holiday Bill of Rights

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Food Intake

Written by Kera Cashman, Medical Dietetics Intern

Are you getting 7 or more hours of sleep a night? The CDC recommends that adults over the age of 18 should be getting 7 or more hours of sleep a night.1 However, now that we are over halfway through the semester and finals week is approaching, students may not be meeting this.

Research shows that not getting enough sleep at night could lead students to eat unhealthy food and gain weight.2 How does this work? Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that control our appetite. Leptin suppresses our appetite, contributes to weight loss, and is released after we consume a meal. Ghrelin increases our appetite, contributes to weight gain, and is released when the body doesn’t have the fuel it needs. When students aren’t getting enough sleep at night, ghrelin levels tend to increase while leptin levels decrease. This causes people to be hungrier throughout the day and possibly gain weight as a result.

Getting more sleep at night can also help us make healthier food choices throughout the day. One study showed that students who were sleep-deprived had a difficult time avoiding high-carbohydrate and high-calories snacks, such as chips and candy.2 Ensuring you are getting enough sleep at night can help you stay on track with your health goals.

On the other hand, what we eat can affect how well we sleep. One study showed that people who ate low fiber, high saturated fat diets had a decrease in quality of sleep.Following a diet low in saturated fat and increasing your fiber intake by eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and beans and legumes can help you have a better night of sleep.

Tips on how to get quality sleep:4

  • Set a sleep schedule that will allow you to get 7 or more hours of sleep a night
  • Avoid caffeine close to bedtime
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get sunlight during the day
  • Avoid taking naps later in the day
  • Avoid overeating or eating too little prior to going to bed


How Much Sleep Do College Students Need?​

2 There’s a scientific reason you crave junk food when you don’t get enough sleep

What You Eat Can Influence How You Sleep

Get better ZZZs: Expert tips for promoting good sleep hygiene

Benefits of Breakfast

Written by Kera Cashman, Medical Dietetics Intern

Do you ever skip breakfast in hopes of losing weight or simply because you don’t have time to eat in the morning? Research shows that skipping breakfast can actually lead you to overeat later in the day as you may snack more and eat more at night. Studies also show that those who skip breakfast tend to gain more weight, have higher BMIs (Body Mass Index), and have an increased risk for obesity. There’s even a link between skipping breakfast and a decrease in cognitive performance and problem solving.

Providing our body with fuel in the morning can make it easier for us to eat well later in the day with research showing people who eat breakfast getting more vitamins and minerals. Eating breakfast has also proven to boost metabolism, improve mood, concentration, and energy, and help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Additionally, research shows that students who eat breakfast have higher academic achievement!

A healthy breakfast consists of a mix of macros (protein, carbohydrate, fat) with three or more food groups, including one protein or dairy source and one fruit or vegetable. This mix of foods can help meet our nutrient needs and keep us full longer.

Grab-and-Go Ideas

  • Protein shake or bar, fruit with nuts or nut butter
  • Nut-based bar (i.e. KIND), hard-boiled egg, fruit
  • Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, fruit, nuts

Easy Breakfast Ideas

  • English muffin with egg and cheese, fruit
  • Smoothie with fruit, milk, protein powder, nut butter
  • ½ bagel with nut butter and banana slices, greek yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Omelet with cheese and veggies (i.e. bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, spinach/kale), whole grain toast
  • Whole grain toast with avocado and egg
  • Oatmeal (or overnight oats) made with milk, protein powder, nuts or nut butter, fruit
  • Egg muffins with cheese and veggies (i.e. spinach, onion, bell pepper), fruit or whole grain toast

Additional Resources