Dear ladies, no diet suits all! Optimize nutrition as you age

Published on: 9 March 2022, 20:24 pm IST

Healthy eating for a woman evolves with age, and you should keep altering your diet. An expert tells you what to eat, and when.

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Watch what you eat, please! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Let’s pause to understand what healthy eating for a woman looks like. Literally! What should we be feeding our bodies so that we can enjoy good health throughout the changing stages of our lives? Whether you’re a student attending online classes or a corporate honcho working from home these days; a homemaker who never gets a moment’s rest or maybe you’re none of the above but as a woman, you need to know what nutrition is right for you and more importantly, when.

Healthy eating for a woman in teenage years

Starting from the time you’re a teenager, what you eat will define who you are in the years to come as nutrient needs are higher now than any other time in your life-cycle. As teenage years are a time of rapid growth and development, eating a well-balanced diet is key, as healthy food is essential for proper hormonal balance.

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Prioritize healthy eating. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

One must stay fit by consuming good fat from fish, avocado, nuts and olive oil. The onset of menstruation at this stage often causes low haemoglobin so load up on food rich in iron, protein and avoid junk food containing refined sugar, saturated and trans-fat.

Healthy eating for a woman under 30

If you’re under 30, it’s a good time to start increasing your calcium intake. In case the pandemic continues to play spoilsport of how much of sunshine vitamin you can absorb, add vitamin D into your diet to enable the absorption of calcium.

Healthy eating for a woman pregnant

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, then lean proteins, iron, and vitamin C (to absorb the iron) are all must-haves for you. In case you are planning a pregnancy, intake of supplements comprising of vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, calcium and folic acid are essential.

A well-balanced diet for all women this age should include some meat and dairy, seafood, green leafy veggies, pulses and grains, dry fruits, and citrus-rich fruit.

Healthy eating for a woman hitting menopause

Make the transition into menopause a smooth one by limiting on foods high in salt, preservatives, and saturated fats. Women in their 40s and 50s must say hello to more calcium and iron, food rich in antioxidants like berries, cocoa, green tea and more fibrous food like whole grains, veggies, and fruit. In addition to vitamins D and C, another one that cannot be ignored as we age is B12 which is responsible for neurological function and is usually deficient in vegetarians so consciously supplement your diet with vitamin B12 fortified food if you don’t get it naturally.

As the onset of metabolic disorders and vitamin deficiencies are seen often in this age group, following a low glycemic, low fat high protein diet topped with regular exercise is essential.

Also Read: Listen up, ladies! These 10 women reveal why they’ve added specific nutrients to their diet

menopause
Menopause can be a tough phase! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Healthy eating for a woman over 60

Age may only be a number but if you want to stay fit and active even over 60 then the amount of nutrients in your food needs to increase in proportion. As a woman in her senior years, your diet should already include all that is recommended above.

So that means foods rich in calcium, iron, protein get a big yes and processed foods, saturated fats and excess salt get a big no. The other red flags at this age are spicy foods that can trigger acidity issues, too many sweets that can lead to sugar imbalance and eventually diabetes. One should be conscious that avoidance of dairy due to lactose intolerance is not a solution and they should rather consume dairy products rich in calcium and proteins.

The last word

No matter what age you are, drink plenty of water to keep your body well hydrated, add a nutritional drink to your diet for a healthy balance of nutrients, get enough sleep so that you feel fresh and rejuvenated; stay active with age-appropriate exercise and pay equal importance to your mental well-being. A lifestyle that combines all of this with a healthy, well-balanced diet will ensure that you relish womanhood at any stage in your life.

Dr Ganesh Kadhe Dr Ganesh Kadhe

Dr Ganesh Kadhe, Associate Director, Nutrition Medical and Scientific Affairs, Abbott

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