A healthy diet gives you energy, supports your mood, maintains your weight, and keeps you looking your best. It can also be a huge support through the different stages in life. Healthy food can help reduce PMS, boost fertility, combat stress, make pregnancy and nursing easier, and ease symptoms of menopause. Whatever your age, committing to a healthy diet will help you look and feel your best so that you stay on top of your commitments and enjoy life.
Good nutrition starts with the basics: a well-rounded diet consisting of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and high quality sources of protein. These kinds of foods provide women with plenty of energy, the means for lifelong weight control, and the key ingredients for looking and feeling great at any age. Instead of obsessing over specific foods or nutrients, remember that it’s your overall eating pattern that’s most important.
Top diet and nutrition tips for women
Focus on whole, plant-based foods. Diets such as the Mediterranean diet that emphasize fruits and vegetables, seafood, and healthy fats can help control your weight and reduce your risk for certain diseases. Carotenoid-rich fruits and veggies, such as tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, melons, and peppers, may even reduce your risk for breast cancer. Add leafy green vegetables and a variety of whole grains, beans, and other legumes to give you filling fiber and keep you going throughout the day. Try to find organic, minimally processed, or locally grown foods whenever possible and make these foods the mainstay of your diet.
Bone up on calcium. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. Dairy products are high in calcium and recent evidence suggests that consuming whole-fat dairy can also have beneficial effects on weight control. Consider plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens as well.
Make sure you get enough iron. Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.
Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk of osteoporosis and postmenopausal breast cancer. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels and also increases the loss of calcium. Both alcohol and caffeine can also worsen PMS and menopause symptoms and adversely affect fertility. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one glass a day and caffeine to one cup a day.
Cut down on sugar. Sugars that are not found naturally in foods contribute zero nutrients but lots of calories to your diet. Naturally occurring sugars are found in products containing milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose), while added sugars can be found in the most unexpected foods, often hidden in the ingredients list as agave nectar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, crystalline fructose, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, maltose, malt syrup, and more.