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Health Expert Addresses Psychology Colloquium

By Amanda Morad | April 1, 2013

Dr. Carolyn Tucker

Speaking at Regent University's School of Psychology & Counseling on Wednesday, March 27, Dr. Carolyn Tucker shared her presentation on core strategies to promote physical, mental and emotional health.

"Control whatever you can," she advised students, wisely acknowledging that late nights, early mornings, and last minute fast food meals are all part of the graduate student's lifestyle. "Take charge of your BMI and health behaviors under whatever conditions exist in your lives."

Tucker is the Florida Blue Endowed Chair in Health Disparities Research at the University of Florida. The work of her department focuses on promoting healthy lifestyles in culturally diverse communities. Her presentation to Regent students aimed to further equip them with promotional tools encouraging good health to those whom they will serve.

Tucker regularly speaks on the dangers of using food to cope with life emotions, the impact of her warnings increased by her own cautionary tale. Once struggling with obesity, Tucker turned her life around when she realized she was predisposing herself to diabetes, heart disease and, possibly, early death.

She also considered her loved ones, particularly her husband. "I would think about another woman spending my money and wearing my bedroom slippers [in my absence], and then hop on a treadmill," she said.

Admitting that life at every stage brings unique emotional stressors that can lead to overindulgence, Tucker suggested several coping skills to deal with stress and depression. "To increase a behavior, you reinforce it," she suggested. Self-praise, Tucker said, is important in the pursuit of becoming a happier, healthier person.

Also important are the small, conscious decision to maintain a healthy diet, exercise and to limit non-work related screen time. Exercise and other social activity are great alternatives to eating in response to emotions, she explained.

"When we're stressed, we eat; when we're happy, we eat; every emotion, we eat," she explained. "Eating is pleasurable—but you can have pleasure and pain at the same time."

Tucker then explained that nearly 20 percent of all cancer cases are directly linked to obesity. Several types, including colon, gallbladder, esophageal, thyroid, kidney and breast cancer are the most commonly linked types of cancer to obesity.

"When I bring up these statistics, people really pay attention," she said. With this in mind, Tucker travels throughout Florida and the United States speaking about healthy choices, particularly among members of racial or ethnic minority, low-income, medically underserved, and at-risk communities.

Learn more about the School of Psychology & Counseling.


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