Now that you have read chapter 1, you have a good idea of the basic nutrients women need for a standard healthy diet. The rest of the blog will deal with certain conditions and the part nutrition plays in preventing and managing them. But a large and growing number of women have nutrition concerns apart from, or in addition to, specific health conditions. In this chapter, I’ll look at two of these more general concerns: weight control and food sensitivities.
Women and Weight Control
For many women (myself included), weight control has always been important. Since I was a teenager I’ve had to watch what I eat and exercise regularly in order to maintain a healthy weight. Some women find that staying trim comes naturally and they don’t have to work very hard at it (oh, how I envy them!). But as women get older, many find that it becomes more difficult to take off a few unwanted pounds. Many of my perimenopausal clients complain about a “softening around the middle” despite their best efforts at weight control. Luckily, despite the age factor and the challenge of female hormones, weight management is possible through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Over the years, I have helped scores of women lose excess body fat with some sensible advice.
Women’s Weight Control and Food Sensitivities Photo Gallery
BODY MASS INDEX (BMI)
Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease, breast cancer and diabetes. It also can complicate your pregnancy and it may even make getting pregnant more difficult. Your health risk is only partially determined by the number you see on the bathroom scale. Once you complete this assessment, you’ll get a better idea of how your weight is likely to affect your long-term health.
CALCULATE YOUR BMI (BODY MASS INDEX)
Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 = weight in kilograms (kg) Multiply your height in inches by 2.54 = height in centimeters (cm)
Divide your height (cm) by 100 = height in meters
Square your height in meters
Your BMI = weight (in kg) + height (in meters2)
Long-term studies show that the overall risk of developing chronic disease is generally related to your BMI as follows:
BMI under 20 may be associated with health problems for some women (e.g., anemia, eating disorder, increased susceptibility to infection)
BMI 20-25 risk is very low; healthy weight
BMI 25-26.9 your risk is starting to increase; caution zone (overweight)
BMI 27-29.9 moderate risk (overweight)
BMI 30+ high risk (obese)
You must remember that there are other factors besides weight that can increase your risk of disease. Poor diet, alcohol, a lack of exercise, smoking and high blood pressure are other important risk factors.