A balanced diet for a woman is different from a man at any age. Daily nutrition for women should address life stage and energy requirements, and include nutrition that supports specific health issues women face. According to Women’s Health, an informational site created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office on Women’s Health, good nutrition for women includes attitudes that support a healthy body image. As Women’s Health notes, distorted perceptions of your shape and size often result in neglecting proper nutrition.
Creating a daily nutrition plan starts with an evaluation of your age, body type and lifestyle to determine how many calories you should consume each day. In general, the Illinois Department of Public Health recommends a daily calorie intake of 1,700 to 2,200 calories for women between ages 23 and 50. If you want to get a more specific recommendation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides free interactive tools on MyPyramid.gov that can provide calorie and food recommendations.
A daily nutrition plan for women features variety with moderation. Food groups that include grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meat, beans and fats provide variety, and moderation, achieved by adherence to dietary guidelines, helps you choose foods that assist you in staying healthy. For example, the Illinois Department of Public Health identifies dietary guidelines, such as limiting fats to no more than 30 percent of your total daily calories, with saturated fats comprising no more than 10 percent. Other guidelines include using sugar, salt, sodium and alcohol in moderation, while loading your diet with whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
Calcium, to help prevent osteoporosis, and iron, to prevent anemia, are two important minerals women especially need. Daily calcium requirements depend on age. For example, if you are between ages 25 to 50, you need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Once you reach menopause, calcium requirements change, depending on whether you are on hormone replacement therapy. If you are on hormone replacement therapy, your body requires 1,200 milligrams each and if not, you require 1,500 milligrams daily. Once you reach age 65, calcium requirements remain steady at 1,500 milligrams per day.
Until you reach menopause, you can lose approximately 15 to 20 milligrams of iron each month due to menstruation, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. To prevent symptoms of iron deficient anemia, such as fatigue, weakness and difficulty maintaining your body temperature, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women between ages of 19 and 50 get 18 milligrams of iron per day, reducing this amount to 8 milligrams per day after age 50.
Taking the time to design a daily nutrition plan specific to your needs results in a balance that displays as increased energy, better overall health and less risk of becoming ill or developing medical conditions associated with a poor diet. In contrast, poor nutrition often has effects such as low energy, increased mental and physical stress and greater risk of injury and illness.
Striking a balance between adequate daily nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult if you suffer from a poor body image. According to Our Bodies Ourselves, a nonprofit group focused on women’s health issues, the $35 billion to $50 billion spent annually on weight loss plans and products rarely, if ever, produce long-lasting results. As Our Bodies Ourselves notes, getting in tune with yourself is a good first step in creating a positive body image, education is crucial to understanding the importance of good nutrition and developing healthy eating, and exercise habits can help you feel better in general and better about yourself.