Eating healthfully is one of the best things women can do to maintain a healthy weight and prevent diseases such as osteoporosis, type-2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
During Adolescence, which is a time of emotional, social, and physical change, some young women restrict their energy and nutritional intake in a desire to meet unrealistic weight goals. At an extreme this can lead to disordered eating, but in any situation, restricting nutritional intake below the daily recommendations can hurt the development of an adolescent’s body. Limit the intake of foods and beverages that are high in calories, fat, sugar, or salt.
During the time of planning a pregnancy, being pregnant, or after delivering a baby, nutrition is particularly important. You do need lots of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for your health and your baby’s growth. But most women need only a few more calories during pregnancy.
Typically, this means an extra two or three servings a day. Have a piece of fruit and a snack, or have an extra slice of toast at breakfast and an extra glass of milk at dinner or just before bed. Eat at about the same times each day. This will help keep your energy steady. Breakfast is especially important. Try small meals or healthy snacks every few hours if you are having “morning sickness” or feeling nauseous.
Moreover, it is recommended that all women from their first period until menopause take a multivitamin that contains folic acid every day. During pregnancy, look for a multivitamin containing between 400 and 1000 micrograms (0.4 and 1.0 milligrams) of folic acid and that also has iron. Some women, including those with a BMI over 30, may need more folic acid.
As women get older, their bodies need fewer calories, however, they need more of certain vitamins and minerals such as fiber, calcium, and vitamin D. As at any age, a balanced diet is important, so while selecting foods, choose options that are lower in calories but high in vitamins and minerals.
Moreover, to help reduce the risk for osteoporosis, it is important to get adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D to help ensure that their bones stay strong and healthy. For adults age 19-50 (including pregnant and lactating women), a recommended daily intake of 1000 mg of calcium and 400 IUs of vitamin D3 is advised. Adults over the age of 50 should increase their daily intake to 1500 mg of calcium and 800 IUs of vitamin D3.
Some foods that are high in calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, soya beans, mustard greens, almonds, and oranges. While some foods that are high in vitamin D include cod liver oil, fatty fish such as salmon and egg yolks.
Foods to limit or avoid
??Avoid unpasteurized cheese.
??Avoid raw and undercooked fish, meat or vegetables.
??Limit caffeine intake to 300 mg or less a day; an average cup of coffee has about 135 mg of caffeine.
??Use herbal teas with caution – some herbal teas are safe to drink during pregnancy like ginger, lemon balm, rosehip, blackberry fruit (not leaf), raspberry fruit (not leaf), and strawberry fruit (not leaf).
??Many cultures have dietary and herbal traditions for pregnant and breast-feeding women. But before adopting the same, it is important to check with your health-care practitioner because some traditional practices have benefits, but some could be potentially harmful.
Some women used to feel that they had to spend many sweaty hours in the gym in order to be physically active but scientific research has shown that just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can have a great impact on their physical and mental health. It can strengthen their heart and lungs, increase energy levels, reduce stress, and help them achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
Benefits of regular physical activity
??Helps maintain a healthy body weight.
??Builds stronger bones and muscles.
??Helps control blood pressure, cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of a heart attack.
??Increases resistance to disease, including type 2 diabetes.
??Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression while increasing relaxation.
??Improves self-esteem, confidence and overall mental state.
?? Helps one sleep better.
??Gives more energy to tackle one's day.
??Prepare your body for pregnancy: labour and delivery.
??Speed up your recovery after labour and delivery.
??Start easy and progress gradually.
??Talk to your healthcare practitioner before starting a safer exercise program.
??Start with mild activities like walking and swimming, even five minutes a day will help.
??Gradually increase the time you’re active to 30 minutes a session.
??Keep being active most days of the week.
??Don’t overdo it, you should be able to carry on a normal conversation during physical activities.
??Keep cool and hydrated. Drink lots of water before, during, and after physical activity to avoid overheating and dehydration.
??Avoid being active outdoors on overly hot or humid days.