Inside: Women are often subjected to dangerous misinformation on diet culture, read on to explore top nutrition tips for women from registered dietitians and founders of Nourished Routes, LLC.
Women have a unique relationship with nutrition, in that they have special dietary needs that change throughout their lifespan, including pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause.
Unfortunately, women are also heavily subjected to misinformation about nutrition and the effects of diet culture.
Registered Dietitians are food and nutrition experts who undergo rigorous schooling and training before taking a registration exam to earn their credentials.
Our company, Nourished Routes, is a Nashville-based nutrition consulting company that helps women who are struggling with a variety of health concerns. To help guide you to better nutrition, we’ve developed 7 top nutrition tips for women that work for every stage of life.
1. Eat a Varied, Balanced Diet
Nutrient-rich foods help maintain proper nutrition and provide energy to keep up with your busy life. Eating a balanced diet can include anything from 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruits and vegetables of per day (in a variety of colors), whole grains, lean proteins and plant-based proteins, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
2. Eat Your Fiber
Fiber can ease constipation and help prevent a number of health problems. Most Americans are not eating enough fiber, but women can eat more whole grains, beans, fortified fiber, fruit, squash, and nuts to up their fiber intake. Women 19-30 years old need at least 28 grams of fiber per day, while women 30-50 years old need 25 grams.
3. Watch Your Iron
Women’s iron needs change throughout their life. For example, women of childbearing age require twice as much iron as men due to blood losses from menstruation.
Proper iron levels before and during pregnancy are important for preventing anemia, premature birth, and postpartum depression. After menopause, iron needs for women decrease.
It is important to ensure you are getting plenty of iron-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, kale, and fortified cereals. Women 19 to 50 need 18mg of iron per day, and this need bumps up to 27mg per day when pregnant.
4. Keep Up Your Calcium
Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis, which women are at higher risk for, as well as helps maintain strong teeth and bones. After menopause, women’s risk of osteoporosis increases due to lowered estrogen in the body.
Women 19-50 need 1000 mg of calcium while women over 50 need 1200 mg of calcium per day from sources such as milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, almonds, calcium-fortified foods, beans, and leafy greens.
5. Give Up the Dieting
If diet programs worked, you wouldn’t keep starting a new one. Diet cycling or “yo-yo” dieting, in which you lose and regain weight continuously can have negative health consequences.
Habitual dieting can increase your risk for heart disease, eating disorders, nutrient deficiency and even impair cognitive function. We recommend giving up the dieting cycles and instead focusing on eating nourishing, whole foods from all food groups that make you feel your best both physically and mentally.
6. Limit Added Sugar and Saturated Fats
American diets are generally very high in added sugar and saturated fats, well above the daily recommendations.
Limiting both added sugars and saturated fat to less than 10% of your daily calories can help women keep their cholesterol and triglyceride levels balanced while reducing risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and more.
Saturated fats are commonly found in butter, meat and dairy products, tropical oils such as coconut, palm, and cocoa, and processed goods. Added sugar is found in processed snacks and treats, sugar-sweetened beverages, candy, cookies, pastries, and more.
7. Don’t Get Bogged Down in the Details
There are as many healthy ways to eat as there are people in the world! Conflicting advice and information about nutrition can lead to confusion and feelings of overwhelm about how to eat.
Eating a varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins that meet your calorie needs will ensure you’re getting enough nutrients to keep you healthy and active. Working with a dietitian who is familiar with women’s unique needs can also help you to get specialized, individualized care.
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