In today’s hectic world, women face unique challenges when it comes to eating a healthy diet. Below are ten tips on how to achieve a balanced diet that reflects a woman’s special needs.
- To protect their bones and reduce their risk of developing osteoporosis, women need at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily (and post-menopausal women should get up to 1,500 milligrams). Therefore, women should be sure to incorporate healthy calcium-rich foods, like low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese into their diets every day.
- Sufficient vitamin D and magnesium are critical in a balanced diet for women, since they are needed for the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D comes from the sun, but also can be provided by fortified foods like orange juice and milk. Magnesium is found in green vegetable, nuts, and legumes.
- Women must be aware of heart health. There is an increasing recognition that heart disease is a significant health risk for women as well as men. As a result, women should be sure to eat a heart-healthy, balanced diet that is, among other things, low in saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables.
- Given their busy schedules and child care responsibilities, many women find themselves skipping meals and filling up, instead, on snacks. This pattern may be unavoidable, but replacing salty, high-fat foods with nutritional snacks like fruit or yogurt can contribute to a healthy, balanced diet for women.
- When women embark on a diet to lose weight, they should diet smart so as to create the best opportunity for success near term and long term. Many studies show that a weight-loss diet that results in lasting weight control is one that incorporates new, healthy habits (and exercise) that can be maintained after the diet ends. That means emphasizing a reduced-calorie, balanced diet that includes a variety of healthy foods.
- For women, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It can make all the difference in energy levels and productivity during the day and in weight control. It is easy to eat healthy at breakfast. Yogurt; low-sugar, whole-grain cereal or oatmeal with milk; orange juice; whole-wheat toast; and fruit all are easy and healthy breakfast foods.
- Women who eat lunch at work should plan their lunch menus as thoughtfully as they do the menu for the evening meal. Bringing a salad with chicken or tuna, nuts, beans, or vegetables can be a healthy and satisfying alternative to eating out or getting takeout. Fruit and yogurt also are good choices.
- Water is a great beverage option and a good replacement for soda (even diet soda) for women. It is filling, has no calories and is good for the skin and general health.
- As much as possible, women’s balanced diets should incorporate fresh, rather than processed foods, including plenty of natural foods and fruits and vegetables. Food writer Michael Pollan’s rules like don’t buy processed foods with more than five ingredients or with ingredients you can’t pronounce (which probably are preservatives or chemicals) can be helpful guidelines.
- A well-balanced diet doesn’t have to mean a flavorless diet with no indulgences. In fact, indulgence should have its place in a healthy diet. For example, chocolate and wine, in moderation, have been shown to have some important physical benefits, to say nothing of pleasure they bring us.
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