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Healthy eating for women

Healthy eating for women is often overlooked even though women have unique nutritional and dietary needs as well as specific women diet plans. From the first start of their period, through teenage years with varying hormonal changes, into early adulthood, pregnancy, lactation, pre-menopause, menopause, and beyond, women have different nutritional needs that must be met to maintain their health and wellness. This can be done by a healthy diet plan for women which incorporates the healthiest foods as well as healthy eating habits. When done right, especially eating from a well-balanced meal plan like Vanda Kitchen’s meals, the balance of food and nutrients should help a woman maintain a healthy weight, boost energy, reduce premature ageing, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, build muscle mass, maintain bone strength, and feel their best regardless of what stage they are in their lives – this is the healthiest and best diet for women.

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What to eat during Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a series of symptoms such as fatigue, acne, bloating, food cravings, irritability, depression, tender breast and mood swings that occur about a week or two prior to the start of a period. It affects about 3 out of every 4 menstruating women and tends to have a reoccurring pattern. Even though the exact cause of PMS is still unknown, several factors including cyclic changes in hormone as well as chemical changes in the brain contribute to this syndrome. Exercise can help manage PMS symptoms, however, the right girl’s diet or women diet can also make a big difference. Women with PMS are advised to do the following:

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  • Eat fruits and vegetables like kale, which is also rich in iron and some B vitamins
  • Eat complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, lentils, potatoes
  • Drink plenty of water to reduce bloating
  • Choose foods rich in iron like lean meat
  • Eat whole grains like pasta and brown rice
  • Eat more foods rich in calcium like soy and low-fat cheese
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and salt (to reduce bloating)

What to eat during pregnancy

Your body is the main source of nutrients for the growth and development of your baby during pregnancy and observing a healthy eating plan for women is key to a healthier pregnancy. Unfortunately, most women don’t get enough protein, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, and folate even from a regular balanced diet and might need to pay special attention to their diets during the entire length of pregnancy to avoid nutritional deficiencies. According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, a safe exercise regime, vitamin supplementations, and a healthy female diet will help maintain a healthy weight and overall healthy pregnancy. Knowing what not to eat when pregnant is as important as knowing what to eat when pregnant. Also knowing what foods to eat when pregnant is critical for a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women do not need to “eat for two” as often believed, instead they need just 200 additional calories per day during the last 12 weeks of pregnancy. With Vanda’s Kitchen customised meal plans, this can easily be met. In order to get the nutrients they need for themselves and their developing babies, pregnant women should follow these general eating guidelines:

what to eat during pregnancy

  • Always eat breakfast
  • Practice portion control
  • Eat protein daily including lentils, beans, tofu, and fish (2x/week)
  • Eat fibre-rich foods like lentils, oats, beans, grains, seeds, brown rice
  • Eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day including fruit juice
  • Choose low-fat food and also reduce intake of fried foods and sugars
  • Limit caffeine-containing teas and coffee
  • Eat starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, and pasta

What to eat during perimenopause, menopause, and post menopause

Menopause is a natural process of ageing in a woman’s life defined as 12 months after a last period. However, so many changes occur in the woman’s body for years leading up to menopause causing symptoms including hot flashes, and changes in menstrual cycle. During this period of change, also known as a perimenopause or menopausal transition, the female body uses energy differently, stores fat differently and can gain weight faster. Women also lose calcium from their bone predisposing them to osteoporosis. They also lose muscle mass faster, and are at a higher risk of heart disease. This continues into the post-menopausal phase making it important to have a well-balanced diet filled with healthy things to eat. It is important to know what to eat during menopause. To maintain optimal health and wellness during this transitional time, The Association of UK dieticians recommends that menopausal women:

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  • Practice portion control
  • Eat 2-3 portion of foods high in calcium like cheese, yoghurt, skimmed milk
  • Food rich in vitamin D including soya, oat drinks, fortified cereal, certain fish
  • Reduce saturated fat
  • Eat 4-5 servings of unsalted nuts, seeds, and pulses weekly
  • Eat homemade or foods similar to homemade that retain nutrients
  • Eat high fibre foods
  • Choose at least five portions of fruits and veggies per day
  • Choose to eat foods rich in plant oestrogens (estrogens) such as soya, linseeds

What to eat at 60 years and above

As we get older, it becomes even more important to adhere to a well-balanced diet as our body adapts to the ageing process. Our body naturally reduces energy consumption as we age, and we must adjust our caloric intake especially if our activity level is low or we have a sedentary lifestyle. We need to consider always choosing food from a healthy food list and opting for the healthiest foods to eat. Apart from adhering to recommendations on how to eat during menopause, older women 60 and above should not only eat less calories due to reduced need for energy consumption, and this can be met by Vanda’s Kitchen meals, but should also:

  • Practice portion control
  • Eat at least 5 or more portions of fruits and veggies daily including fruit juices and smoothies
  • Chose higher-fibre, wholegrain foods such as brown rice
  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water daily
  • Eat foods rich in calcium, vitamin A, and B12 including yogurt and cheese
  • Eat plant foods rich in protein but low in fat like lentils, peas, beans, eggs, fish
  • Choose foods rich in iron including in peas, beans, lentils, green leafy veggies,
  • Get adequate vitamin D from sunlight, foods (fish, eggs, meat), and supplementation (under supervision)
  • Choose foods rich in folic acid including green vegetables
  • Cut down on sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol