March is Women’s History Month and National Nutrition Month which allows us to focus on the unique nutritional needs of women. Balancing the demands of work, family, school, and a pandemic are just a few of the obstacles women face in the struggle to maintain a healthy diet. However, with the right food choices, you can see an increase in mood, energy, and more!
What is healthy eating?
Simply put, healthy eating is eating in a way that improves your health and helps prevent diseases. It can mean consuming more fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and proteins and limiting the amount of added sugar, sodium, and saturated and trans fats in your diet. But why make it that straightforward? Women have some unique nutritional needs, including certain vitamins and minerals during pregnancy or after menopause. According to womenshealth.gov, calcium, iron, and folic acid are particularly important for women. Women’s nutritional needs also differ during their different stages of life, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, and after menopause. Make sure to discuss with your doctor what your current nutritional needs are.
But it’s more than just food…
With all the responsibilities that women have professionally, personally, and more, it’s not uncommon for women to neglect their own dietary needs. Making an effort to consume healthy foods is important but so is focusing on other health factors such as stress, mental health, heart health, etc. According to an article by the FDA, women of every age are at risk of heart disease and they’re typically underdiagnosed and undertreated. Dr. Rupa Sanghani recommends that women advocate for themselves especially with early screening for risk factors. This can include regular blood pressure checks, cholesterol checks, screening for diabetes, and other risk factors. Dr. Sanghani says, “The best way to protect yourself from heart disease is to start early in life with good habits and a healthy lifestyle. That includes moderate exercise three to four times a week, eating healthy, avoiding tobacco, keeping your weight down, and managing stress. A heart-healthy diet is low in saturated fat and sugar and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables.”
Have questions? Ask your doctor or schedule a wellness appointment with an AFC provider. Studies have shown that when a woman eats healthy, everyone in her household is more likely to eat healthy as well. Take this month as an opportunity to educate yourself and your family members on the amazing women who have come before us and all the ways we can nourish our body so we can pay it forward.