CELEBRATING WOMEN’S HEALTH | MUNCHWIZE DIETITIANS CAPE TOWN
A balanced, nutritious diet is a cornerstone of health. Women need to enjoy a variety of foods, that include whole grains, plenty of vegetables, fruit, healthy sources of fat, calcium rich dairy and lean sources of protein.
Women have very special nutritional needs and these needs change through out the various stages of our lives.
Women are always on the go – fetching kids, going to the gym, meeting friends, organizing the house, making dinner. Due to this busy lifestyle we are prone to skipping meals or grabbing things on the go. We need to ensure we include nutrient-rich foods to provide us with the energy we need for our busy lives and to help prevent disease.
A healthy daily diet should includes:
- At least 3X 30g servings of whole grains
- e.g. whole-grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, wholegrain cous-cous or oats.
- Try and avoid any refined carbohydrates
- 3 servings of low-fat calcium rich dairy products
- e.g. plain/Bulgarian yoghurt, milk or cheese.
- Sources of lean protein such as lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beans or peas and nuts should be included daily.
- 1-2 portions of fruits.
- Try to always choose whole fruit and avoid fruit juices as they are packed with sugar.
- At least 4-5 serving of colorful vegetables — fresh, frozen or canned without added salt.
Daily Calcium Requirements
To ensure healthy bones and teeth, women need to eat and enjoy a variety of calcium-rich foods every day. Calcium is the mineral that keeps bones strong and prevents osteoporosis.
Calcium-rich foods include:
- Dairy products
- Calcium-fortified foods including juices and cereals.
Vitamin D is an important vitamin that we can get directly from the sun. It’s primary role is to increase the availability of calcium for absorption. Without the help of vitamin D, levels of calcium in the blood, and ultimately in the bone, could be negatively affected.
Regular and strenuous exercise helps children and teenagers increase their bone strength. If you’re older, you can prevent bone loss with some types of exercise.
Regularly include iron-rich foods into your diet
Iron is one of the key minerals to good health and energy levels in women.
Iron-rich food sources include:
- Red meat
- Chicken and turkey
- Beans and lentils
- Some fortified breads and cereals.
Boost the absorption of iron from you plant-based sources by eating them with vitamin C-rich foods.
e.g. fortified wholegrain cereal with strawberries on top, spinach salad with mandarin orange slices or add tomatoes to lentil soup.
Folic Acid During your Reproductive Years
Ensuring adequate folic acid intake is important in decreasing the risk of birth defects.
Include adequate amounts of folic acid daily into your diet from fortified foods or supplements together with your food sources of folate from a varied diet.
Source of folic acid:
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy greens
- Beans and peas
Foods to Limit
Avoiding a lot of excess empty calories from added sugars, fat and alcohol can help keep your weight in check:
- Avoid regular fizzy drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages,
- Limit candy, baked goods and fried foods.
- Limit alcohol intake to one standard drink per day.
We should be eating fewer foods that are high in saturated fat (the fat found mainly in your animal products).
Boost that daily activity
Women typically have more body fat, less muscle and are smaller in size than men – therefore we need fewer calories to maintain a healthy body weight and activity level.
Exercise is an important part of a woman’s health. Regular daily activity helps with weight control, muscle strength and stress management.
We should be aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity exercise a least 5 days a week. Include exercise that you enjoy and that is fun or can involve the whole family.
Munchwize Dietitians are based in Claremont, Cape Town. To book an appointmnet contact us.