Summer is a perfect time to be a role model for good nutrition. As we head into summer, women have many opportunities to be more active outside. With that comes making smarter food choices while enjoying the outdoors. Whether we are young mothers at the pool with our children, middle aged women working in the garden or mentally winding down in a yoga class, or older women enjoying an evening walk, balancing activity with nutrition is an important part of our health and wellness.
Summer is the perfect time to plant a garden, purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from a farmers market or make the right food choices in the grocery store.
Where can you obtain valuable information about the right balance of foods in your diet and that fit your needs? One option is to use the My Plate food guidance system developed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
My Plate was introduced in 2010 and replaces the food pyramid as the gold standard. It is simple to use and assists all age groups in following sensible and good nutrition. Using Choose My Plate, 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, have 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 throughout the life cycle. Taking good care of ourselves is vital to being able to care for others in a healthy manner.
Some Tips for making sensible food choices:
- Grains – 50% should be from whole grain. They hold fiber and nutrients.
- Vegetables – Choose a variety of dark green (broccoli, spinach, kale) and orange (carrots, sweet potatoes). Dry beans and peas (black beans, garbanzo, and lentils)
- Fruits – Choose a variety and those without added sugars such as found in some fruit juices
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt – Low-fat or fat free reduces the calories but not the nutrients
- Fats – Mono and polyunsaturated such as salmon, nuts, and canola oil
It’s hard to change eating habits, but one step at a time is best. Make small goals and attain them with support from your healthcare provider or registered dietitian.