Women’s nutritional needs are quite distinct from men. A healthy eating plan for women does not follow the same pattern as that of men. There are various eat well guides available, which mostly mention about the consumption of balanced diet and having 5 veggies and fruits daily, along with getting more beans, pulses, whole grains, and poultry and getting less red meat and less sugary foods. They also want to put the focus on portions. At every different stage’s women need to modify their diet.
Proper Proportion in Healthy Eating Plan
Nutritional requirement depends on age, sex, activity, and size. A healthy eating plan for women should consider all these factors. The following chart will give you an idea of a balanced healthy diet for an average adult.
In the chart below, the RIs mentioned for sugar, salt, saturates and fats are the maximum possible values where the values mentioned for proteins and carbs are what you should strive to achieve each day. As such, there is no such standard value for fibers but experts say the one should have around 30g per day.
The following gives an idea for the Perfect portions for a healthy eating plan:
Vegetables are nutrient-rich foods which provide energy for women’s busy lives and help to reduce the risk of disease.
- Salad: 2 fist/two cups
- Cooked carrots: one fist/ one cup
For healthy bones and teeth, women need to eat a variety of calcium-rich foods every day.
- Cheese/string cheese: 1 ½ ounce
- Yogurt or glass of milk: 1 fist/one cup
Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Fruits are must in the healthy eating plan.
- Canned peaches: 1 fist/one cup
- Apple: 1 fist/one medium-sized
Protein can reduce hunger and boost metabolism.
- Peanut butter: thumb/one tablespoon
- Oatmeal, rice, noodles: handful/ half cup
- Whole wheat bread: flat hand/one slice
- A bowl of dry cereal: 1 fist/one cup
The following discussion about meals will give us a clear picture of what you should have at different times during a day.
By adding protein (like diary, salmon, lean ham and eggs) you can start your metabolism with a protein-rich breakfast. By taking protein you can melt more calories than by having carbs. Protein can also make you feel fuller for a longer period of time, which will help you to eat less. Protein is a key element in a healthy eating plan.
No matter how busy your schedule may look, you should never skip your breakfast. It will adversely impact your blood sugar levels early in the morning and we will wind up making bad food choices. Always remember that breakfast is the key to maintaining a healthy weight.
Some easy ideas for adding protein in your breakfast are scrambled eggs, a thin slice of lean ham or a small slice of smoked salmon.
2. After Breakfast Snack
Several people believe that consuming little amount of food often helps in controlling blood sugar level. Spreading the whole day’s consumption uniformly throughout the day is a useful process for various people. Make sure your snacks are healthy and you have enough supply of them. Otherwise, you might be forced to choose something unhealthy.
Some easy ideas are: veggie stick with tasty some tasty dips or eating bananas. Instead of sugary cookies go for oatcakes with an almond or peanut butter spread.
Try to make your lunch with carbs which have a fair amount of starch and lean protein. Foods that are carb-rich are good options for getting energy, else, you can suffer from mid-day lethargy.
You should always choose carbs that can support a stable blood sugar level which in turn will allow you to take a raincheck on sugary foods. You should go for whole grains which have a high fiber content that will help you to satisfy your mid-afternoon cravings.
Some options for such a type of lunch are wholegrain toast with baked beans as a topping or salad or less fatty dairy products or sandwiches (rye bread preferable) with chicken or salmon etc.
4. Afternoon Snacks
Midafternoon snacks are very important for rejuvenating our energy. A mixture of unsalted seeds or nuts along with some dried fruits could be a protein-rich snack option, which will also make you feel full for a long period of time.
Some ideas are: Instead of grabbing a chocolate bar go for some apple slices or a handful of walnuts or almonds. Eating nuts and dried fruits will keep your blood sugar level stable and you will feel energized for a longer period of time. On the other hand, make sure your fridge is full of small-sized snacks, like veggie sticks, apple rings, cherry tomatoes, etc. These will help in preventing your urge to grabbing something unhealthy.
Don’t say a complete no to carb consumption, they are rich in fiber as well as low in fat. We need to incorporate them with sardines or salmon or mackerel or even with some seeds or nuts. These healthy fats are important for having healthy hair as well as skin.
Half of our plate should have some colorful veggies. You can use dressings, which has ingredients like rapeseed oil and then add beans or fish or some meat. Make sure you are having this with some wholemeal pasta or quinoa or even with brown rice.
6. The Proper Diet
Eating right is very important for staying healthy. There are various options available, but you need to choose the perfect one which can full fill your daily nutritional requirement. You should have:
- at least three ounces of whole grains in the form of whole wheat cereal flakes, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, oats, etc.
- a minimum of 3 servings of fat-free or even low-fat dairy options like cheese or yogurt or even milk.
- to consume five to 5 ½ ounces of protein, like nuts, peas or beans, seeds, eggs, poultry, lean meat, seafood.
- 2 cups of canned or fresh or frozen fruits, without any added sugar.
You need to make sure that our daily diet must have 2 to 2 ½ cups of colorful canned or fresh or frozen vegetables, however, it should not have any added salt in it.
- According to various studies, 1,500–1,800 calories daily is perfect for men as well as women who lead an active lifestyle.
- Eating plants provides 1,200–1,500 calories regularly, researches have shown that it helps women to lose some weight without any added risk.
8. Must-Have Vitamins and Minerals in your Healthy Eating Plan
Iron: It is one of the main factors for women’s good health, especially for women approaching menopause. Some iron-rich foods are lentils, spinach, kale, pork, chicken, red meat, turkey, etc.
Folates and Folic Acid: During the reproductive years, folic acid and folate count act as one of the most important factors. Foods that are good sources of Folic acid and folates are leafy greens, peas, beans, citrus fruits, breakfast cereals, bread, rice, etc.
Calcium, as well as vitamin D: For healthy teeth and bone, women need to fulfill their daily requirements of calcium and vitamin D properly. Some calcium-rich foods are low fat or fat-free cheese, yogurt, tofu, and sardines. Some other calcium-rich options are cereals, juice, etc. For vitamin D fatty fish like salmon could be a good option, otherwise, eggs, some yogurt, juices can fulfill this purpose too.
9. Necessary Limits for Certain Foods and Beverages in Healthy Eating Plan
No matter what age we are in, to maintain a healthy weight, we need to limit the consumption of some beverages as well as food. Try to consume less amount of desserts, soft drinks, pastries, candy, etc. on a daily basis. Age-wise if you are eligible for drinking alcohol, then limit it to 1 drink daily. For wine, it is five ounces, beer twelve ounces or liquor 1.5 ounces. Instead of having fatty foods, try to go for food with less saturated fats, lean protein, and fat-free dairy products in your daily diet.
10. Don’t Get Worried While Eating Out
Sometimes we feel that eating out can jeopardy our healthy eating plan, however, we can still be healthy and enjoy dining out at the same time, by following some easy rules.
- Try to order foods that are steamed or stir-fried, broiled, roasted, baked or even lightly sautéed.
- If there is no option for foods that are sauce or butter or even gravy free, then ask them to make it like that.
- For tea or coffee ask for low fat or fat-free milk, as a substitute for cream.
- For drinks, order something unsweetened or without any added sugar in them.
11. Try these Tricks
- Sharing your order with others or you can bring half of your food home
- Never consume the skin of a turkey or a chicken.
- Don’t order any dessert or share it with your friends too.
Some Helpful Food Shopping Tips for Healthy Eating Plan
While buying foods you need to check the label properly, like how much calories it has in each serving, buy stuff that contains less amount of added sugar, low sodium content and high in potassium, focus on the amount of saturated fat that that product has.
Following are a few ingredients that can act as a substitute and in turn, keep our diet healthy:
- Two egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute instead of 1 egg.
- One cup evaporated fat-free milk, instead of 1 cup of cream.
- A graham cracker crumb crust instead of pastry dough.
- ½ cup applesauce or apple butter, instead of one cup oil or margarine or butter.
- Go for lean turkey bacon as a substitute for bacon.
- Use olive oil or a cooking spray instead of margarine, vegetable oil or butter.
- Have some fat free sour cream as a substitute for proper sour cream.
- Buy some ground turkey breast or some extra lean ground beef instead of just regular ground beef.
- ½ cup fat-free cream cheese with ½ cup ricotta cheese puree as a substitute of one cup cream cheese.
- Use ½ to a ¼ cup of mini chocolate chips instead of one cup of regular chocolate chips.
- Go for one cup of fat-free milk instead of one cup of whole milk.
- Instead of one cup of original mayonnaise, we can also use one cup of low fat or fat-free mayonnaise.
- As a substitute for one cup of sugar, we can also use a ¾ cup of sugar, this will work with everything, only exclusion being yeast bread.
Also Read: Our heart is a well-refined machine. To keep it working in top form, we need to provide it with good quality fuel. That means we should have a heart-healthy diet.