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Petra Andrade

Petra Andrade has written 2 posts for College and Career Blog

Food for Thought

Picking up some fast food on the way home, or putting a frozen dinner in the microwave, sounds convenient, easy and quick – especially if you have to juggle school, work and a family you don’t want to “waste” time on preparing food. However, you have to consider that eating the quick and easy way might actually slow you down, and even worse, might have some long-term negative impact on your health and well-being.

Packaged food mostly consists of processed food which is great for transportation, storage and shelf life, but not so good for your body. Imagine food as fuel, and especially when you need a lot of energy to get all your tasks completed, you want to fuel and nourish your body and your brain with fresh, high quality, and preferably seasonal foods.

Keep it natural

The closer you stay to food in its natural state, the better. For example, something that has been picked fresh off a tree (let’s say an orange) is closer to its natural state than something that has been picked off a tree, sent to a processing plant, extracted, mixed with sugar and artificial ingredients before it’s wrapped in plastic, packaged in a box and sent off to supermarkets thousands of miles away (let’s say orange-flavored candy).

 

Food For Thought - Groceries

 

If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it

Ideally your grocery purchases shouldn’t have labels, like apples, lettuce and all that good stuff. But if you buy something in a package, read the label, especially the ingredients.  There’s a simple rule when you go through the ingredient list: If you can’t pronounce one or more of the ingredients, don’t buy the item. There are preservatives, flavors, fillers and other artificial ingredients which don’t add anything of value to your diet. They might actually be harmful and cause different kinds of diseases. By the way, ingredients are listed in order of quantity, so the most prevalent ingredient is first, the least is last.

Stay at the perimeter

Here’s another easy way to consume more natural, less processed foods: Stick to the perimeter (outside) of the supermarket. You have your veggies and fruit, meat and fish and dairy.

Cut the sugar (and other sweeteners)

If you wander off into the aisles and pick up a food item to read the ingredients, you will most likely find sugar or some other kind of sweetener, like high fructose corn syrup, on the list, as often times sugar is hidden in soups, sauces and condiments. Most people know that sugar is bad. Hey – it causes cavities and makes us sleepy. You’ve probably experienced a sugar high, followed by a low, and found out that these energy level swings don’t help when you’re supposed to study and focus. On another note, sugar also increases fat storage. You can read up here how fat cells work or check out this blog for some more background, but yes, sugar makes you fat. And please note – it’s not just sugar. Artificial sweeteners confuse the body and our taste sense.

 

Photo by Dorsolateral

 

Eating healthy on a budget

While it may seem cheaper to buy fast food or snacks at a convenience store, those processed foods don’t have enough of the nutrients you need to fuel and nourish your mind and body. On the contrary, they are loaded with sugar, saturated and trans fats, refined grains and salt, and they are causing diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer and diabetes. So, you’ll end up spending way more money in the long run on healthcare-related costs (the American Diabetes Association shows the total cost of diabetes in the United States in 2007 at $218 billion – yes, that’s a b as in billion).

Here are a few things you can do to find that sweet spot in between eating healthy, nourishing foods and staying responsible and within a budget.

  • Look for sales on fresh fruits, veggies and meat. Buy lots and freeze while it’s cheap.
  • Buy whole heads of lettuce instead of bags. It doesn’t take that long to cut it up, and bagged lettuce, in addition to being expensive, has often been rinsed in a chlorine wash.
  • Choose frozen over canned. If you can’t get fresh, or if you don’t have time to prepare the fresh fruits or veggies, pick frozen. Freezing usually happens right after fruits or vegetables have been picked at their peak ripeness when they are most nutrient-packed, and the freezing locks them in a relatively nutrient-rich state. Check out the ingredient list, and make sure that the vegetable or fruit is the only ingredient.
  • Buy in bulk. Check out the bulk aisle for nuts, dried fruit and lots of other goodies.
  • Skip organic if it’s too expensive. Eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The Environmental Working Group put together this list of the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen, if you want to watch out for the most contaminated ones. Either way, you should always wash your fruit and vegetables well. Simple water is fine.
  • Bring your own lunch and snacks. Processed snack foods are expensive and usually provide very little nutrition. Get some re-sealable plastic bags or containers and make your own snacks with dried fruits and nuts, bananas, apples or any other seasonal fruit, plain yogurt (add your own fruit) or unsweetened apple sauce. For lunch, bring a salad or a sandwich – you can change it up every day and the opportunities are endless.
  • Eat eggs – they are an excellent high-quality protein and very versatile. You can bring them along hard-boiled as a snack, make an egg salad or pre-cook a big batch of omelet that you’ll just have to reheat.
  • Don’t buy any more empty calories. You can save a bundle of money by not buying any more chips, soda and other costly processed items
  • Drink water. There’s no need to buy bottled water or fancy enhanced drinks. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, a water filter works like a charm.

It’s not that hard…

It comes down to a basic concept. Avoid artificial, processed items and satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit. This might sound rough, but having diabetes or cancer is a lot rougher. Take little steps. Before you eliminate soda completely, make it a special treat, or put a little less sugar each week in your tea or coffee.

Start slow and make changes over time. The more you read about this, the more you’ll be motivated to change your habits, especially as you realize that you have a more balanced energy level, better concentration, a sharper memory and a sense of well-being – which is a big plus when you have to manage homework, exams and assignments along with work and your personal life.

How to SEO Your Resume

Westwood College Resume Tips

It’s still a tough job market out there despite some recent economic turnaround. Giving your resume every advantage to stand out of the crowd may help you land a great job opportunity. Search engine optimization (SEO) can help your resume appear when potential employers search for qualified candidates online.

SEO is the practice of developing, reorganizing and link building for a website or document so that it achieves top position on organic search listings. It is possible to optimize your resume so that it appears in both organic search rankings (like Google’s search results) and also comes up when employers search job sites like Monster and LinkedIn.

The very first task is getting your resume online. A beginning step is to post it to basic and industry-specific job sites. A more advanced tactic is to buy a URL that describes the job you are seeking. For example, someone looking for an animation job in New York may purchase the URL www.NewYorkAnimator.com from a domain site such as GoDaddy.com and post their resume. It is then possible to optimize that website for SEO by putting keywords in the page title and title tag.

What are keywords? Keywords are the high-traffic words and terms that people are searching for online. Including them strategically is a critical part of SEO. Think about what terms an employer would use to search for job candidates on a site like LinkedIn. For example, if a recruiter is looking for an experienced graphic designer for a management position, they may search “Creative Director” or “design expertise.” You can then test your guesses with a free site like Google Analytics.

Don’t overstuff the keywords in the text. Insert them where they occur naturally, with an emphasis on placing them in titles and headings. Keep the content short and to-the-point to boost SEO ranking along with readability once a recruiter is actually reading the document. Also, if your resume includes images, be certain the images are labeled with keywords.

Include links to relevant industry sites, publications or other websites featuring your experience or work. You can also try to get other sites to link to your resume, which helps improve search engine ranking. If you keep your social media sites like Facebook and Twitter professionally appropriate, include links to your pages on these sites at the bottom of the resume. Remember, even if you don’t include a link to your Facebook account on your resume, prospective employers may see it so either make it work-appropriate or set the privacy settings very high. I actually recommend doing both.

Follow these tips along with traditional job search methods to give your resume a boost over the competition.

Petra Andrade
Senior Internet Marketing Manager
Westwood College

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