Food is the necessity for every living being. The food concerns for women depend on unique life cycles: menstrual cycles, pregnancy, birth control, menopause. Besides this, the professional and personal roles have a huge influence on the food habits as well. Many a times, the physical and mental health often take a back seat. It is imperative that frequent attention be paid to food habits. A healthy-women equals to a healthy family and society.
During the growth years from birth to 25 years, calcium is required for teeth and bone building and makes up a `bone building bank’. The calcium taken prior to 25 years sustains the bone mass for the rest of life, albeit with constant calcium food supply. The teenagers may starve due to obsession with ‘slim body’ and peer pressure, and food is seen as an enemy. On the other hand, there is preference for junk food which tends to have higher amount of fat content. The more the fat, the greater the store of hormones (hormones are fat soluble), increasing the chances of hormonal imbalances, leading to conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome. These unbalanced, insufficient food intakes weaken the body and immune system which may have repercussions later in life.
During pregnancy, a diet high in protein and calcium is needed to maintain health of the pregnant women and growth of the baby. There is an overall increase in calorie requirements. But the need for protein increases a lot. So, focus on healthy foods like pulses, beans, soya, dals, egg whites, lean meats (if you are a non-vegetarian). During lactation phase, body needs to make milk, so get enough dairy foods and protein.
The menopause brings changes to the body and mind. A diet high in calcium and antioxidants, low in fat is preferred nutrition at this phase. For post-menopausal woman, a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and emphasis on calcium intake through dairy foods to keep osteoporosis away is good.
A balanced diet consisting of rice/roti, 2-3 servings of fruit, 3-4 servings of vegetables, diary foods (milk/paneer/yogurt), proteins (beans, lentils, egg and meat), plenty of water and good sleep would keep the mind and body happy.