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And to All a Healthy Holiday Season

Wellness Center - Alan Duffy and Kate DiEmidio

Photo by Patrick Bradley

Post Exam

Kate DiEmidio and Alan Duffy are on a holiday mission to keep students healthy. In fact, as health educators in AU’s Wellness Center, they want to keep all of the university’s over 12,000 students in top shape this winter season and beyond. With that in mind, Duffy and DiEmidio have some advice for the vacation days around the corner.

Duffy – who focuses on nutrition, body image, and sexual health for the Center – sees an opportunity for students to nip things in the bud from the moment winter break begins.

“Coming out of finals, [we’re] encouraging people to take plenty of Vitamin C, zinc, and things like that to stay well,” he says. “With finals, you’re going to get run down already. Make sure you’re prepared for that so you don’t arrive home and find yourself in bed for most of the holiday season.”

Duffy encourages taking Vitamin C for its immune-boosting qualities, something particularly important for an immune system that’s been rocked by the stress of final exams.

The Road Ahead

As soon as the books are closed and the bags at least a quarter packed, many students look to celebrate the end of the semester and its exams. DiEmidio, who specializes in alcohol-related issues for the Wellness Center, suggests planning as a key part of any celebration.

“We plan for exams, and we study. We plan for trips, and we pack. A lot of times with celebrating, people just go out without a plan,” she says. “I really recommend thinking about how the night will go and how it will end just to set yourself up for the best possible end to the celebration.”

This planning strategy involves deciding who will be driving to and from the point of celebration. As December represents Impaired Driving Prevention Month, DiEmidio reminds students to be cautious on the road, especially come New Year’s Eve. She reminds all drivers to be vigilant of one another and look for those who might be impaired or distracted.

Setting the Table

As sure as lights on a Christmas tree, food accompanies almost any holiday. While a treat, a loaded table can make anyone a little nervous about their winter waistline.

Through the Wellness Center’s current “Holiday Cheer without the Weight Gain Fear” campaign, Duffy advises a clear head and day-to-day appetite.

“A lot of people go home for the holidays worrying about ‘Oh, I’m going to gain all this weight.’ So they’re dieting before the holidays,” he explains. “We’re trying to encourage everyone to do everything in moderation. Go home and enjoy the kinds of foods you want, but just be mindful. Try to eat roughly the same meal sizes as you would eat on a regular day.”

DiEmidio wants students of age to apply that same idea to the alcohol they consume.

“Food is a way that we celebrate. Alcohol is another way that people celebrate,” she says. “Moderation is certainly something we encourage. A lot of times, when people are celebrating, the idea is as much as possible. Really focus on moderation and enjoying that drink and friends more than the idea of quantity. Quality over quantity.”

For men, this means four or fewer drinks per occasion and three or fewer for women.

Whatever the holidays look like for students, DiEmidio and Duffy encourage healthy choices to best enjoy the time back home, welcome in the New Year, and return safely to the AU community. It’s their holiday mission and wish to everyone.

For more information on the Wellness Center’s regular programming and offerings, explore the department’s website here.