Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

December 21, 2004

Holiday advice, insight from U of G staff, profs

With the holiday season upon us, University of Guelph researchers have some tips and advice on setting New Year’s resolutions, as well as some interesting findings about two favourite seasonal treats.

Don’t Set Self-Change Goals Too High, Prof Says
New Year’s Day is fast approaching and a University of Guelph professor has some advice: set realistic goals.

Psychology Prof. Ian Newby-Clark has conducted studies of people bent on self-improvement, focussing on exercise plans and habits. His findings reveal that people don’t imagine the real obstacles they’ll face.

“When people are constructing a plan for self-change, they make it a rosy picture with few obstructions,” he said. “But their over-the-top goals are often unrealistic.”

In his studies, Newby-Clark asked people what goals they hoped to achieve and their best-case and worst-case scenarios in attaining them. “While people acknowledge reasonable impediments, they rarely consider that could happen to them,” he said. “People are setting themselves up for a fall.”

He hopes that his research will help people anticipate obstacles to success more effectively so that they will be better equipped to avoid them.

Forget Resolutions, Think Goals, U of G Staff Say
Resolved to get into shape this year? Forget resolutions and think goals, say Cyndy McLean, director of the University of Guelph’s Health and Performance Centre, and Heidi Smith, the centre's dietitian and sports nutritionist.

“The whole idea of resolutions sets people up for failure,” they say. “They're not specific enough, and typically they tend to be short-term. We endorse a more long-term approach to health.”

Here are their 10 steps toward a fitness and nutrition program:

1. Change resolutions into goals. Instead of saying: “I'm going to get fit," say: "I will begin a walking program.”

2. Set specific and measurable goals: “I am going to walk three times a week for 20 minutes.”

3. Be optimistic and realistic: “I will lose 10 per cent of my initial body weight in one year, not 15 pounds in one month.”

4. Set both long- and short-term goals: “I am going to begin by walking once a week for 10 minutes and add one minute per session for the first month. Within three months, I will reach my goal of three sessions per week.”

5. Identify obstacles and solutions. If your obstacle is lack of time, you might, for example, prepare meals in advance.

6. Develop an action plan, including the specific steps you need to take to reach your goal.

7. Seek guidance. Think about meeting with a dietitian and fitness professional.
8. Seek support. Why not exercise with a buddy?

9. Identify indicators of success, such as completing 80 per cent of your scheduled workouts.

10. Re-evaluate and update goals.

Chocolate IS Good for You...In Moderation, Dietitian Says
Chocolates lovers take note: your favourite treat may have positive health benefits too. Recent research has revealed that the cocoa bean has some powerful antioxidant abilities.

What does it mean? Small amounts of chocolate can help prevent damage to cells in the body. But the key word is “small,” says Heidi Smith, the sports nutritionist at the University of Guelph’s Health and Performance Centre.

Smith says people should remember that chocolate is healthy in the context of a balanced diet. It’s still very high in calories, sugar and saturated fat. “If you start consuming large quantities on a daily basis you run the risk of weight gain and increased cholesterol,” she says.

Smith, a registered dietician, has other tips for avoiding weight gain during the holiday season, including controlling portion size and careful snacking. She will present a nutrition seminar on “Battling Body Fat” Jan. 10 at the Health and Performance Centre. It will include learning the secrets of those who have shed body fat and kept it off, and expert guidance on setting realistic goals for your body type. The seminar is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Cost is $15 at the door. For information, call (519) 767-5011.

Chocolate Has 'Inner Beauty,' U of G Food Scientist Says
Forget about how it tastes, chocolate has inner beauty, according to a University of Guelph food scientist.

Prof. Alejandro Marangoni says a microscopic look at chocolate reveals an intricate crystalline network involving oils and fats -- chocolate contains about 30 per cent fat, 50 per cent sugar, and 20 per cent cocoa powder. It is the interaction among that network’s components influences appearance, feel and taste.

For example, cheap chocolates will often leave a waxy taste in the mouth. But good chocolates can melt on the tongue. Marangoni says that has much to do with the crystalline structure.

He is developing new ways to characterize a crystal’s structure as it appears under a microscope. The information is helping him to solve some practical problems in the chocolate industry, such as oil migration (when chocolate turns white).

Red Wine Fights Cancer, Leaves Healthy Cells Alone

Red wine may help fight and prevent breast cancer, research by University of Guelph scientists reveals. The study also shows that the cancer-killing components in red wine do not adversely affect healthy cells.

The research by Gopi Paliyath, a U of G plant agriculture professor; Kelly Meckling, a human biology professor; and graduate student Fatima Hakimuddin was published in the spring in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

The scientists compared the effects of three different flavonoid fractions (the nutraceutical components known for their antiviral and antioxidant function) found in red wine on human breast cancer cell lines and human healthy cells.

“We discovered that some of the flavonoids can specifically attack the cancer cells, hence the cancer cells die,” Paliyath said. “But at the same time, the flavonoids do not have any harmful effects on the normal cells.”

The research could be used as a strategy for the development of novel anti-cancer drugs, Paliyath said. They hope to study the cell messaging system further to determine exactly how the flavonoids intervene in the whole process.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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