Take action on women’s health for nutrition month
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
ANN MARION WILLIS email@example.com @Saltwirenetwork
From reproductive health to reducing risk of chronic illnesses and just wanting to feel good, prioritizing wellness for women is essential at every stage of life. But whether becoming a new parent or starting a new career, it can be challenging to put ourselves first. Adding to this challenge is strong messaging coming from the diet industry to focus on outward appearance. March is Nutrition Month, so what better time to share a few tips from me, a registered dietitian, for women struggling to decipher confusing messages. • Weight: Women especially are heavily targeted by the diet and beauty industries to focus on appearance and body weight. I have worked with many clients who are defeated after spending years going on and off restrictive diets in pursuit of thinness. There will always be a new fad popping up claiming to finally be the answer, but weight is so much more complex than just “eat less and move more.” Severely restricting intake, entire food groups and favourite foods is not sustainable and can impact mental and physical health. Evidence shows breaking that dieting cycle by making peace with food and learning to tune into body cues like hunger and fullness can improve nutrient intake and overall health. Instead of focusing on what should be taken out of the diet, I often ask clients to consider what could be added for extra nutrition to maintain fullness and boost energy. • Reproductive health: A women’s body is constantly going through life stages as hormone levels fluctuate monthly and over the years. Changing hormone levels can influence stress levels, metabolism, energy levels and mental health. An antiinflammatory diet, adequate in antioxidants, fibre, protein, and unsaturated fat, can aid in maintaining reproductive health. Iron deficiency is common for women during menstruation and pregnancy years, especially women who are very active, struggle with endometriosis or donate blood regularly. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath. Consuming iron containing foods like meat, poultry, legumes, leafy greens, seafood and iron-fortified cereals can help prevent deficiency. If you have concerns, work with a health-care provider to investigate before taking iron supplements. Through menopause, many women will experience symptoms like hot flashes. Avoiding smoking, limiting caffeine intake, alcohol, spicy foods, and high stress levels could help reduce these symptoms. • Aging well: There is no hidden secret or magic pill for maintaining good health throughout life. We may not be able to change our genetics, but an overall healthy lifestyle (including regular physical activity, managing stress, quality sleep along with eating a balanced diet) goes a long way in staying well and reducing risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and arthritis. A diet rich in fibrous foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables will help to keep you full, promote regular digestion and manage blood sugars and cholesterol. Consuming foods with calcium, including green leafy vegetables, dairy and fortified non-dairy products, and fish with bones like canned sardines, along with regular weight bearing exercise, will help maintain bone health, and prevent osteoporosis. A healthy lifestyle looks different for everyone. Nutrition Month is a perfect time to start working with one of our in-store dietitians so you can get personalized support and get on track to prioritize your health. Why wait? Ann Marion Willis is a registered dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in Cape Breton and Antigonish. Do you have a nutrition health goal in mind? Contact Ann Marion by phone at 902-217-2142, or by email at annmarion.willis@ loblaw.ca, or book a virtual consult at bookadietitian.ca. Our dietitian team also offers group programming in select stores and in the community – check the dietitian booth or at the pharmacy at your local store to see what’s happening!