October is a great time to remind women of the importance of making their health a priority. Women tend to put their children’s, spouse’s, and relative’s needs ahead of their own. However, it is essential for women to make time for personal health & wellness too. Ladies, you can’t give your all to your family if you haven’t taken care of yourself first! In addition to the good practices of exercising, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol usage, getting enough sleep, and seeing your healthcare provider annually, it is recommended to follow these nutrition guidelines as well.
Eat plenty of vegetables & fruit each day. Aim for 3 cups of veggies and 2 cups of fruit daily. Incorporate them at every meal and every snack. Fresh, frozen, or canned will do the trick – just watch for added salt and sugar in the canned options.
Limit your saturated fat intake. Saturated fat should make up less than 10% of your total daily calories. For a 2000 calorie diet, that would come out to no more than 20 grams. Saturated fats are found in animal fat products like whole milk, cream, cheese, coconut oil, and fatty meats like beef, lamb, sausages, and pork. Choose healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, fatty fish like salmon, and nuts and seeds.
Include more whole grains. Replace white breads, pastas, wraps, and rice with their whole grain alternative. Popcorn is also a great whole grain, just watch the added butters and salts. Oats are another good whole grain choice – so if you are an oatmeal lover, keep it up!
Opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy. Full-fat dairy tends to be higher in saturated fats. Instead, include lower fat yogurt or cheese choices or make your portion sizes of full-fat options smaller.
Eat lean protein. Think chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds more often.
Ensure you have enough iron. Iron is a key nutrient that tends to be lower in women, which can have an impact on overall energy and health. Ensure the following iron-rich foods are making your plate: chicken, turkey, fish, kale, spinach, beans, lentils, and fortified breads or cereals. The plant-based options are best absorbed with vitamin C-rich foods – so include oranges, tomatoes, and strawberries with your spinach, lentils, and beans!
Calcium, calcium, calcium. We’ve heard it all before: you need calcium for strong bones and teeth, especially in women to prevent osteoporosis or brittle-bone disease. Calcium-rich options include low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt, or sardines, tofu, and fortified juice or cereal. Aim for 1000 mg/day or 1200 mg/day if you are over the age of 50.
Monitor excess calories. In order to maintain a healthy body weight, aim to limit regular soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Also, calories tend to add up quickly if you are one to munch on candy, baked goods, and fried foods.
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For all you women, aim to incorporate these practices into your daily routine. For all you men, please share these tips with the special women in your life.