Healthy Eating Habits
Women’s bone health, getting men to the doctor, and teaching kids healthy eating habits. Just as every personality in a family is different, the health concerns faced by men, women, and children are also not identical. We’ve identified some typical concerns for each group and show you what you can do to get started on a healthier path.
For women, you’re never too young or too old to improve your bone health. At any age you can make a difference for your body’s 206 bones with this timeless bone health advice:
*; Stick with a diet to feed your bones. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy.
*; Get enough calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K/K2.
*; Keep moving against gravity. Examples include: running, brisk walking, weightlifting, and jump roping.
*; Maintain a healthy weight. Being underweight can raise the risk of fracture and bone loss.
*; Quit smoking. Smoking can reduce bone mass and may increase your risks for a broken bone.
*; Limit alcohol use. Large amounts can reduce bone mass and may increase your risks for a broken bone.
Different steps at every age
Discover what you can do in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond to protect your bones:
*; 20s: For most people, bone mass peaks during the second decade of life. These are prime years for bone development, and bones can be negatively impacted by soda consumption, excessive dieting, and extreme exercise. By establishing healthy exercise habits as an important part of a daily routine in these early years, the results can provide a strong base for maintaining muscle strength, coordination, and balance, which in turn helps to prevent falls and related fractures in the later decades. The best exercise for your bones is the weight-bearing kind, which forces the body to work against gravity.
*; 30s: Both pregnancy and breastfeeding place extra demands on a woman’s body. Both these hangs may affect the mother’s bones.
Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the baby growing in its mother’s womb needs plenty of calcium to develop its skeleton. This need is especially great during the last three months of pregnancy. If the mother doesn’t get enough calcium, her baby will draw what it needs from the mother’s bones. So, it is essential that women of childbearing years, who want to have children, make a habit of getting the recommended amount of calcium required daily.
Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding also affects a mother’s bones. Studies have shown that women often lose three to five percent of their bone mass during breastfeeding. The amount of calcium the mother needs depends on the amount of breast milk produced and how long breastfeeding continues. Breastfeeding mothers need to talk with their physician and work out a supplement plan that is appropriate for the bone health of the mother and child. Most physicians will prescribe a vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure calcium needs are being met.
*; 40s: Key nutrients you need now:
Calcium: As a woman approaches menopause, bone-building estrogens starts to decline, and the body absorbs less calcium from food. Women should aim for at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day from low-fat dairy, calcium supplements, or a combination of the two.
Vitamin D: This nutrient helps the body absorb calcium and supports breast, colon, and immune system health. It is found in foods, and the body naturally produces it when exposed to sunlight. It’s extremely difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet and sunlight alone. Recent research has shown that a daily supplement of 2,000 International Units (IU) will help maintain proper levels of vitamin D for healthy bones.
*; 50s and beyond: In the five to 10 years right after menopause, bone loss is rapid. It’s estimated that post-menopausal women lose up to three percent of their bone mass every year. Eating right and getting plenty of exercise remains crucial to protect the bones. It’s time to start taking even more calcium! When women enter menopause, their intestines no longer absorb calcium as well as they used to. Why? Menopause brings on a decrease in estrogens, which is needed to help with the absorption process. It’s recommended that women over 50 get a whopping 1,500 mg of calcium a day. So consider taking a calcium supplement three, rather than two, times daily for maximum absorption.
It’s almost a joke that men refuse to go to the doctor, but skipping routine preventive care visits is no laughing matter.
The anecdotal and real evidence showing that men don’t see their doctor as often as women do could mean that serious, preventable health conditions aren’t being caught on time.
Women tend to develop the habit of yearly doctor visits early in life for annual reproductive checkups, while men have no similar requirement to see their doctor on a regular basis. Add to that a culture that celebrates self-reliance, and many men view going to the doctor as a sign of weakness.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. For men to set a healthy example for their families and to simply be there for their families long-term, annual checkups are vitally important for men.
If you’re a man, try to view going to the doctor as an affirmation of your health and a commitment to your family that you want to be with them in good health for as long as possible. If you’re a woman who cares about a man – a mother, wife, sister, or daughter – encourage your man to get his annual checkups. And tell him it’s because you love him and want him around to share the many more years you can enjoy together.
Check with your doctor or insurance provider for screening guidelines and recommendations on what types of preventive steps you can start taking today.
As childhood obesity rates continue to climb, it’s important to model good eating habits for your kids so that eating healthy is second nature by the time they’re ready to leave the nest. Making changes in five key areas can add up to real results, according to the Let’s Move initiative. Areas for improvement include eating more fruits and vegetables, less sugar and fat, healthier snacks, portion size, and eating together as a family.
Increase fruits and veggies
*; Kids need at least five a day.
*; Canned and frozen veggies can be just as good as fresh. Choose canned fruits that aren’t packaged in heavy syrup and rinse and drain veggies before heating and serving to remove added sodium.
*; Fruits such as grapes, apple slices, and bananas make fun, easy snacks. Another healthy option is carrot and celery sticks.
*; Choose juices with no added sugar and look for 100% fruit juice on the label.
*; Sneak veggies in where you can! Puree some cauliflower into mashed potatoes, add spinach or kale to soups, and spice up sandwiches with sprouts, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Reduce fat and sugar
*; Choose low- or non-fat dairy such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
*; Mind your meat. Take the skin off chicken, choose the leanest cuts of meat you can, and try swapping lean ground turkey for some recipes you usually make with ground beef. Also, try making some vegetarian entrees a few times per week with protein sources such as lentils and beans.
*; Instead of frying, opt to bake or grill meat whenever possible.
*; Swap olive oil or butter.
*; Try to eliminate or drastically reduce soda intake. Opt for low-fat milk or water whenever possible.
*; Make fruits such as berries the stars of dessert. Top with a little reduced-calorie whipped topping and kids will eat it up, all while consuming much less sugar and calories than a cookie.
*; Watch the amount of sugar in the breakfast cereal you buy and opt for lower sugar options.
*; Limit the amount of snacks your kids are allowed to have every day.
*; Make fruits and vegetables readily available. Leave a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter and have cut-up vegetables ready and front and centre in the fridge.
*; On the flip side, let kids know that they need permission for certain snacks, like candy or cookies. Better yet, just don’t keep those snacks on hand and make them a special occasion.
*; Use smaller plates and serving bowls for kids. They’re smaller and therefore should eat smaller portions.
*; Don’t make kids join the clean plate club. By forcing them to finish everything on their plate, they won’t learn to distinguish when they are truly full, which could set them up for a lifetime of overeating.
*; Use the back of your child’s fist as a gauge for a child’s portion size.
*; If it’s something they’ve never tried before, start with a small portion. They can always ask for more!
*; Eating a meal together is a chance to enjoy food and each other.
*; By setting a good example at meal time, you’ll be modelling a healthy approach to eating.
*; Eating at regular meal and snack times helps kids learn structure and discipline.