A balanced, wholesome eating pattern is the very foundation of good health. The key fundamentals of a wholesome diet remain the same for men and women. Incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; consume whole cereals and quality protein and include dairy sources which are low in fat. Steer clear of too much packaged food, trans-fat, and overdose of sugar.
Now, while the general guidelines are the same for males and females, a comprehensive and explicit plan is necessary for women. It becomes important to imbibe healthy eating habits for women.
Men and women need to follow different diet rules!
Men and women have distinct nutritional needs and the needs vary depending up on the body structure, metabolic rate, and the reproductive function. A woman has special nutrient requirements during the diverse phases of her life. Consuming a diet that is chockfull of nutrient-dense foods ensures that you have adequate energy for your busy life, and it promises to significantly cut back on your risk of diseases.
• Understand your calorie requirement: Men have a larger body frame and more muscle mass than women do; consequently, they have increased caloric requirements. On an average, a woman requires approximately 2000 calories per day, whilst a man needs around 2800 calories per day. Typically, women have a smaller build, less muscle mass, and more body fat, thus they require fewer calories to maintain a healthy body weight. Also, it is important to balance your calorie intake with your activity level.
• Significance of calcium in a woman’s diet: Women are a lot more vulnerable to osteoporosis, because of the changes that occur in the hormone profile every month in relation to menstruation as well as due to childbearing. Pregnant women, lactating mothers and peri-menopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal women need more calcium than their male counterparts. You must eat plenty of calcium-rich foods on a daily basis. Calcium fortifies your bones and appreciably reduces your risk for osteoporosis. So, load up on - low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, fish, and calcium supplements if necessary.
• Do not overlook the sunshine vitamin: Potatoes proffer starchy carbs which act as high-calorie food for weight gain. The starch in the tuber helps in the release of energy in the form of glucose. Often called a guilty pleasures; you can stack your plate with baked potato wedges, aloo curries and the occasional fries!
• Women and iron insufficiency: Women face a big risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia compared to men – the chief cause is the monthly blood loss in relation to the menses. Women require around 18 mg of iron per day, compared to 8 mg that men need. The requirement for iron is higher during pregnancy and lessens post menopause. Rich sources of the mineral are –meat, fish, leafy greens, beans, and dals. A tip to remember is - plant-based sources of iron are readily and easily absorbed by your body when eaten with vitamin C-rich foods, so try to combine the two whenever possible.
• The import of folic acid: A crucial aspect of healthy diet plans for women is incorporating adequate amounts of folic acid. You need 400 mg of folic acid per day, and the requirement goes up to 600 mg per day during pregnancy and lactation. Sufficient folic acid is essential to avert brain and spinal cord anomalies in a growing fetus. Leafy greens, peas and beans are rich sources. It is also recommended that you confer with your OB/GYN and embark upon supplementation.
Incorporate wholesome and healthy food habits
• You must eat 3 portion sizes of whole grains per day. Integrate atta chapatti, dalia, and rice into your diet.
• 4 to 5 servings of protein rich foods such as – dals, lean meat, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds are very crucial. When buying dals, always opt for unpolished pulses such Tata Sampann Dals which help retain all the essential nutritional value; as they do not undergo artificial polishing with water, oil or leather, they have lower moisture (8-10%) compared to loose dals available in the market.
• Have 2 to 3 servings of low-fat dairy products to get your calcium requirement.
• Healthy food habits include 2 servings of fresh fruit and 2 servings of veggies!
• Healthy eating habits for women must focus on sources of unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds; steer clear of saturated fat and trans-fat.
On the whole, an increased awareness of your nutritional requirement as well as the nutritional value of foods, including calories, the important macro-nutrients, and their vitamin and mineral composition will empower you to make prudent choices, supercharge your health and help you take big strides towards your wellness goals!
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