From heart health to pregnancy or breastfeeding, prioritizing health and wellness for women is essential at every stage of life.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy task. As we face all the changes in our lives, such as becoming a new parent or starting a new career, it can be challenging to put ourselves first.
Here are some ways women can prioritize their health using food and nutrition.
Fertility and pregnancy
When trying to conceive, eating a balanced diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help improve fertility and increase the chances of becoming pregnant.
It is particularly important to consume enough folic acid (from supplements) and folate (from foods) – a B vitamin that can help prevent birth defects in the baby. Foods that are high in folate include leafy greens, citrus fruits, and fortified grains.
During pregnancy, nutrition is not only essential for the health of the mother but also the developing fetus. Some specific nutrients that are particularly important during pregnancy include choline, folic acid, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
When breastfeeding, we can help ensure the mother’s milk provides essential nutrients.
Prioritizing nutrition during breastfeeding by focusing on nutrient dense foods rich in healthy fats, high fibre foods such as whole grains, fruits and veggies plus lean protein foods is also very important, as it ensures the mother’s milk provides essential nutrients to the baby.
In addition to food, we also want to make sure we drink enough fluids. While drinking plenty of water is important for everyone, it is especially important while breastfeeding.
As a general guide, aim for about 12 cups of fluid every day. These fluids can come from both beverages and foods, such as soups. Having said that, listen to your body and drink to satisfy your thirst.
During menopause, the body's hormone levels fluctuate, which can lead to several physical and emotional symptoms. Eating a healthy well-balanced diet can help alleviate some of these symptoms, as well as reduce the risk of certain health problems.
For example, foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D can help maintain strong bones. Additionally, incorporating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help with weight management and reduce the risk of heart disease. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as hot flashes, try to avoid smoking, limit excessive caffeine and alcohol, pay attention to how you feel when you eat spicy foods, and work towards managing stress levels.
Women are known for putting others ahead of themselves, but it’s time women prioritize their health.
If you’d like to learn more about meal planning for you and your family, managing health conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure, healthy weight management or overall healthy eating for long term health and wellness, I’m here to help.
To learn more, book a 15-minute complimentary chat with me at dietitianservices.ca.
Red kidney bean tofu curry with brown basmati rice
• 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) PC brown basmati rice
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
• 2 tbsp (25 mL) minced peeled fresh ginger
• 1 tsp (5 mL) each ground coriander and ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground turmeric
• 1/4 tsp (1 mL) Cayenne pepper
• 1 can (796 mL) PC Blue Menu whole tomatoes
• 1 pkg (500 g) PC Blue Menu red kidney beans - frozen
• 1 pkg (350 g) PC Blue Menu extra firm tofu
• 1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
• 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
Step 1—Combine rice and 2-1/2 cups water in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until all water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand five minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Step 2—Meanwhile, heat oil in separate large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, (about five minutes). Add garlic, jalapeño, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, (about three minutes).
Step 3—Add tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Stir in frozen beans and tofu. Return to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and liquid is slightly thickened, (15 to 20 minutes).
Step 4—Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro, lemon juice and salt. Serve over rice.
Maria Thomas is a registered dietitian at Peter’s Your Independent Grocer in Kamloops.