EATING WELL IN KANSAS CITY - October 2018
Fuel Your Feminine Body the Right Way
By Angela Watson Robertson
A simple Google search tells us that women need fewer calories and more nutrients than men to be healthy. Yet, this isn’t discussed enough. The fact is, as women—we are very different than men in so many ways (duh, right!?). However, it seems when it comes to nutrition and health many of us believe the age-old “calories in, calories out” routine and often compare ourselves way too much to our male counterparts.
The Unique Nutritional Needs of Women
* Women have a very different hormonal makeup (another duh!).
* Women have a unique role as the bearers of children.
* Women tend to be smaller and have higher fat percentages than men—thus they need fewer calories, yet foods that are nutrient-dense to get what they need (i.e., we must be a bit pickier about what we eat!).
* Women of childbearing age need extra iron due to blood loss during menstruation.
* As women age, we need extra calcium due to the decline of estrogen with menopause.
* During pregnancy, women need extra of almost everything—especially folate or folic acid.
So, what do you do to make sure you’re getting what you need? A few things:
1. Get your hormone levels checked.
Much has been written about the importance of keeping our hormones balanced (men and women), and hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a big business due to this. I recommend that all of my clients get their current levels checked, but going straight to a hormone therapy (i.e., a cream, pill, injection, etc) may not be wise.
There are many ways to balance your hormones naturally and often lifestyle and diet changes can do the trick. Keep in mind that this may take time and patience, but gently bringing your body back into balance will do wonders for your long-term health instead of focusing on a quick fix.
2. Be picky with your food.
Experiment and learn what foods work for your unique body (regardless of what your cutie-pie or work-spouse eats!) Be picky, sweetheart, as you know what is best for you. The best thing you can do for your beautiful, feminine body is to eat nutrient-dense foods that are whole and unprocessed as often as possible. You may need less than the men around you, but you need lots of nutrients.
3. Get more iron.
Get more iron from a diet rich in meat, fish, and poultry (grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught, organic as applicable, ideally)
If you’re vegetarian, you can eat a ton of iron-rich foods, which is great, but remember this can be harder for some of us to absorb. To increase the iron you absorb from food, eat plenty of vitamin-c rich foods like oranges, broccoli, and tomatoes (yay, a whole foods diet!). Get your iron levels checked by your doctor. You may need an iron supplement.
4. Think about your bones.
Most nutrition experts recommend that women get more calcium to support bone-density, especially as we age (as in over 30). This is really important while you’re pregnant since your baby will be taking calcium from your bones to create a new human. I recommend you eat foods rich in calcium as often as possible as you'll absorb calcium from food easier than from a supplement. That being said, talk to your doctor about taking a calcium or bone-health supplement if your levels are low or you are at risk for osteoporosis. Please note: Taking too much calcium can be dangerous to your heart health. Make sure you work with a doctor or health professional to determine how much to take.
5. Take Folate, or folic acid.
Especially if you’re pregnant, your body needs folate, or folic acid, big time! Your multivitamin or prenatal vitamin may have all that you need, so check with your health coach, doctor, or midwife for their recommendations.
If you have the MTHFR gene mutation, as I do, you’ll want to avoid any supplements with folic acid in them and stick to a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin that uses Methylfolate instead. Get tested for this, especially if you’re pregnant.
6. Adjust your nutrition and supplementation based on your activity-level and lifestyle.
If you exercise a lot or push your body in extreme ways, do your homework or work with a health coach or medical professional to learn what more you need to keep yourself healthy and balanced.
7. Work with a Certified Coach.
You can find out a lot of what you need to know online- yet working with a Certified Health and Lifestyle Coach, like myself, gives you more than information. You may know WHAT you need to do based on a recent google search, but do you know HOW to do it? Plus, when the going gets tough you’ll have the support you need to see it through.
Angela Watson Robertson, MBA, CIHC, INHC, a.k.a The Reinvention Warrior, is a well known nutrition blogger and health coach who teaches you how to transform your life starting with the food you eat. She has created simple, effective tools to help you reinvent every area of your life- from health, career and money to relationships, spirituality and sex. Find her free wellness tips, nutrition courses, and coaching programs at www.angelawatsonrobertson.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter.