The foundation of wellbeing is a healthy eating pattern. Women should, just like men, eat a variety of nutritious foods, including grains, fatty or fat-free milk, fruits, healthy fats and lean protein. But women still have special nutritional requirements, and these needs change over each stage of a woman’s life.
To attain and achieve health targets, women need to eat a balanced diet. Healthy food translates into fitness, more energy and a happy state of mind to do things. Each stage of life, from infancy to the elderly, determines our nutritional requirements based on our physiological needs.
Food provides nutrients that are important to our body for development, maintenance of normal functions of the body, activity and health. Through eating a wide range of foods that nature provides for us throughout the year, these nutrients can be acquired. During puberty, childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, lactation, and later in life, insufficient food consumption may have adverse effects on our lives.
Adolescence is almost a decade long period of rapid growth. Increases in height and weight, hormonal changes occur, sexual maturation takes place, and feelings seem to be everywhere. Girls start sooner, around 2 years earlier, than boys. Body water, muscle mass, bone and fat rise and attain adult values by 18 years of age. All this needs more nutrients per kg body weight. At this point, girls also start their menstrual cycles, leading to added physiological stress.
Any nutritional deficiency encountered during this crucial period of life can have an impact on the person and their offspring’s future health. For instance, failure at this time to eat an appropriate diet will result in delayed sexual maturation and physical growth being delayed or retarded. Adolescence’s rapid physical changes have a direct effect on the nutritional needs of an individual. The growth spurt that occurs in puberty produces increased demands for energy and nutrients, second only to that in the first year of life. Nutritional status and physical development rely on each other in such a way that adequate nutrition is a prerequisite for maximum growth potential to be achieved.
The basis for retaining the integrity of bones later in life is essential bone mass, which grows at this period. For the future of a healthy bone, sufficient calcium intake is very important. The rich sources of bioavailable calcium are milk, curds and nuts, and cereals such as ragi and green leafy vegetables also provide calcium.
Weight-bearing movements such as walking and jumping help to deposit more calcium in the bones. Regular exercise helps build powerful bones. For all ages, teenage girls have the highest iron requirements. To better meet the need, their diets must include lean red meats, iron-fortified cereals, beans, and green leafy vegetables.
The issue here is that this is also the moment when girls become very critical of their image. They prefer to try all possible fad diets, most of which are insufficient, leading to poor nutritional results. Lecturing generally causes adverse reactions, so a safer way to teach them is to communicate and reason.
Encourage them to read internet write-ups based on facts. Take them along to shop for groceries, involve them in the meal planning and food preparation, and help them select safe.
Variety is also very necessary, using healthy ingredients to cook a favorite dish, i.e. making a burger with a fresh meat or paneer patty, fresh lettuce and cucumber, whole grain bun is much healthier than the refined one accompanied with a cold coffee with less sugar.
Kritika is a freelance content writer with Femsay.com