A Healthy Diet Standard Advice for All Women

If you are like many American women, you may be more concerned about your diet. You may be wondering how your nutritional intake stacks up to that of the average American woman. Like her, are you not meeting your daily targets for calcium, folate, iron and zinc? Is your weight putting your health at risk? To ensure your diet is providing what your body needs to stay healthy and reduce your risk of future health problems, the tables on the following pages will help you make wise food choices.

Every woman should strive to adhere to the following dietary guidelines. These basic eating principles represent a common strategy to help prevent all chronic diseases women face today.

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1. Emphasize plant foods in your daily diet. Fill your plate with grains, fruits and vegetables. If you eat animal protein foods like meat or poultry, they should take up no more than one-quarter of your plate. Try vegetarian sources of protein, such as beans and soy, more often.

2. Choose lower-fat foods. Buy lean cuts of meat and poultry, and lower-fat dairy products. Use added fats and oils—like butter, margarine, salad dressings and spreads—sparingly. Limit your intake of fried foods and high-fat snack foods.

3. Choose foods and oils that are rich in essential fatty acids, nutrients our bodies can’t make and that must be supplied by our diet. Fish, nuts, seeds, flax and flax oil, canola oil, omega-3 eggs, wheat germ and leafy green vegetables are examples.

4. Make food choices that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber. Choose whole grains as often as possible. Eat at least three different-colored fruits and three different-colored vegetables every day.

5. As often as possible, eliminate sources of refined sugar: cookies, cakes, pastries, frozen desserts, soft drinks, sweetened fruit juices, fruit drinks, candy, etc.

6. Wash fruits and vegetables to remove pesticide residues. Or buy organic produce.

7. Limit foods with chemical additives.

8. Limit your intake of caffeine and salt.

9. Drink at least 9 cups of water every day.

10. Avoid alcohol. If you drink, consume no more than one drink a day, or seven per week.

11. Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement each day to ensure you are meeting your needs for most nutrients.

12. Exercise regularly. Aim to include aerobic activities (brisk walking, jogging, stair climbing, cycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, aerobic classes) and strength exercises (weights, push-ups, sit-ups) in your weekly routine.

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