Women’s health- Why you need to focus on health not ‘diets’ (and a guide on how to do so)
Throughout a women’s lifetime, from puberty, pregnancy, menopause to later years, it is important to remember the ongoing need to adjust the body and minds nutritional requirements. The need for our health to nourish us with a large range of foods from different food groups; fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, dairy, meat, fish and legumes.
1. Diets don’t work!
Restrictive diets, particularly for weight loss, are a continuous cycle of deprivation, cravings, giving in, then feeling guilty and starting the cycle all over again. This could go on for many miserable years.
When a food or food groups are banned, you focus on it more. The food has power over you. Drop the rules and feel the freedom.
Think about how foods make you feel, which meals leave you feeling energised.
Welcome and enjoy the taste of all food. How good does a fresh cherry taste at the start of the season, a perfectly ripe strawberry, or fresh crunchy nuts These foods are nourishing and delicious.
2. Focus on health as your wealth
I invite you to shift your focus to health rather than scales. Nutrition plays a significant role in many health conditions and eating a nourishing diet can reduce your risk of many chronic diseases. Here are a few health questions to consider where diet plays a big role.
Q: How can I increase my muscle and bone strength in a healthy way?
A: Spreading protein intake out over the day is optimal for maintaining muscle mass and calcium. Vitamin D and Phosphorus are integral for healthy bone strengthening.
Q: What keeps blood sugar level, cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels?
A: Eating wholegrains (e.g. oats, brown rice, wholegrain bread) + monounsaturated fats (e.g. nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil and avocado) and keeping salt intake low (use herbs and spices to flavour food).
Q: How can I eat to best keep my mental health on track, given food is a massive influencer of mood?
A: An important key to a healthy mind is a balanced diet with plenty of plant foods to provide prebiotic fibre and nutrients, with only small amounts of ultra-processed foods and alcohol.
Q: What creates a healthy, regular bowel cycle?
A: Eating for good gut health and enough fibre and fluid. It can be that simple!
Q: Why am I always tired?
A: One reason could be you’re not eating enough iron and folate-rich foods.
If you think your organisation could benefit from having an Accredited practising Dietitian and trained health professional answer these questions, and develop dietary strategies to suit your team, get in contact with ICMI so I can help you out!
3. General tips for strong Nutrition
- Write a shopping list so the pantry and the fridge can be stocked with foods you want to eat plenty of and less of the foods you want to eat less of.
- Eat with others. When people eat together, they are likely to make healthier food choices.
- Use extra virgin olive oil and drizzle liberally over vegetable and salads.
- Focus on vegetables: Cut up extra for snacks, soups, curries, stir fry and have them ready in the fridge. Frozen are perfectly ok to use also.
- Swap chips and packet biscuits for: Nuts, yoghurt, canned fish/flavoured chickpeas, fruit, soup, rice paper rolls.
- Add protein to breakfast: Milk, yoghurt, eggs, baked beans, cheese.
- Buy partly prepared foods to save time: Boned/cut meats, filleted/peeled seafood, frozen vegetables, quick cook rice or quinoa.
Like in many areas, women lead the way to a healthy household. Studies show that when a woman eats healthy, everyone in her household is more likely to eat healthy. Make some small changes today for your health and the health of those around you.
Simone Austin is an Advanced Sports Dietitian who presents with energy and enthusiasm. Through her talks, she shares stories from over 25 years experience working in elite sport, with some of Australia’s most successful sporting teams – The Australian Men’s Cricket Team and Hawthorn AFL football Club during their 3 premiership years. Simone cuts through the noisy nutrition space and show how you can enjoy food, and be healthy too.