Tufts Undergrads Fuel Up for Finals with Help from Balance Your Life

by Marina Komarovsky

Before finals, undergrads at the Tufts-Medford campus are going to be getting together with their dorms to stock up on Ziploc bags of trail mix as part of Balance Your Life, a new healthy lifestyle campaign for undergraduate Tufts students, headed by Friedman’s Kate Sweeney ’11 and the Department of Health Education and introduced in our previous issue (“The Balance Your Life Campaign: Bringing Friedman Lessons to Medford”). This trail mix-making event – like a bag of trail mix with just the right ingredients – has the perfect combination of elements of a health campaign: pursuit of campaign objectives, collaboration, and publicity.

Trail mix is a healthy study snack option, so handing it out during finals seems like an activity that already helps to achieve one of the campaign objectives – to improve nutrition among Tufts undergraduates. But Balance Your Life doesn’t stop there. Each snack mix baggie will contain a slip of paper with information about snack mix ingredients – what health benefits they provide, and where students can purchase the ingredients on campus. When they see this info, students will be prompted to think about what is in the food they’re eating, provided an opportunity to learn about nutrition, and encouraged to make more trail mix once they run out, since they know exactly where to go to buy the fixings.

Because Balance Your Life is an overall healthy lifestyle campaign, this activity goes beyond just nutrition. The slips will also provide tips for managing finals stress. With taglines like “Sleep to Remember” and “Eat breakfast to raise your GPA?” they will give small blurbs on research findings about behaviors to decrease stress and increase study effectiveness.

Collaboration is also playing a big role. Since the campaign has a primary target audience of college freshmen, all of whom are required to live in college housing, it was only logical to get in touch with Residential Assistants (RAs) and Residence Directors  (RDs), who interact with students in the dorms on a regular basis. RAs and RDs will be the ones hosting the trail mix-making events, and there are plans to take the relationship further next semester, when Balance Your Life adds on a breakfast promotion component. Because students should think about eating breakfast in the morning, and because in the morning they are in the dorms, this is the perfect place for encouraging them to fuel up, and RAs and RDs are the perfect people to assist in the effort.

Publicity is the final component in the trail mix, because visibility is key for getting students involved in Balance Your Life, and for turning healthy lifestyle into a campus culture. The slips of paper in the trail mix baggies will also include the Balance Your Life website: http://ase.tufts.edu/healthed/balanceGetActive.htm.  You should also check it out.

To get involved, e-mail Kathryn.Sweeney@tufts.edu.

And look for more updates in upcoming issues of the Sprout.

Marina Komarovsky is an MS-Nutritional Epidemiology/MPH-Health Communication student who is very into apples, mango lassies, hip hop, and swing dancing. She is also moderately into nutritional biochemistry and statistics, and her goal in writing is to relate research findings to those who are not into those things at all. She is currently studying endocrine regulation of metabolism.

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