As we head into summer, women have many opportunities to be more active outside. Getting active is great, but making smarter food choices while enjoying the outdoors is an even better combination. Whether you’re a young mother at the pool with your children, a middle-aged woman working in the garden or mentally winding down in a yoga class, or an older woman enjoying an evening walk, balancing activity with nutrition is an important part of health and wellness.
Summer is the perfect time to plant a garden, stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables from a farmers market, or make healthy food choices in the grocery store.
Where can you find valuable information about the right balance of foods in your diet and how they fit your needs? One option is to use the MyPlate food guidance system developed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
MyPlate just celebrated its second birthday last week and replaced the food pyramid as the gold standard. It’s simple to use and helps all age groups make sensible and good nutrition choices. Using Choose MyPlate, you can get a daily food plan based on your age, weight, height, sex and daily activity level.
For women, good nutrition and daily exercise can help to decrease risk factors for chronic diseases, promote healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, and help you to perform at your best both physically and mentally.
As women, we are role models for our families. What we cook and serve to our families has lasting effects. By taking good care of ourselves we can better care for our loved ones.
Tips for making sensible food choices:
- 50% should be from whole grain. They hold fiber and nutrients.
- Choose a variety of dark green (broccoli, spinach, kale) and orange (carrots, sweet potatoes) vegetables.
- Dry beans and peas (black beans, garbanzo, and lentils) are also good choices.
- Choose a variety of fresh and frozen fruits, but take care to avoid pre-packaged fruits and juices with added sugars.
Milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Low-fat or fat free choices reduce the calories but not the nutrients.
- Include mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as salmon, nuts and canola oil.
It can be hard to change your eating habits, but take it one step at a time. Make small goals (maybe try adding a piece of fruit to your lunch twice a week?) and reach them with support from your health care provider or registered dietitian.