Young women need a balanced diet to fuel their active bodies and minds. But at this point in life, healthy eating sometimes becomes a challenge. College life can interrupt normal patterns of eating. Unhealthy body image issues can take over. In addition, hormonal changes can lead to problems like premenstrual syndrome. The best thing a young woman can do is understand her own body and stay healthy by eating a balanced diet and getting regular physical activity.
Use these tips to eat healthfully:
- Eat a variety of foods from all the MyPlate food groups, and more high-fiber whole foods like beans, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Include lean protein in meals. Try lean beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish and eggs plus plant-based protein foods like tofu, beans and peas, peanut butter, nuts and seeds.
- Eat fruit, whole grains and low-fat dairy products for snacks. Choose healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, vegetable oils like olive and canola oil and avocado.
- Include iron-rich foods for energy and good health. Sources include red meat, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, kale, spinach, beans, lentils, and fortified breads and cereals.
- Limit excess calories from alcohol, late-night snacking and seconds at the college dining hall. (See Weight Gain at College.)
- Help alleviate symptoms of PMS by cutting down on salt, caffeine and sugar. (See Premenstrual Syndrome.)
- Drink non-caloric beverages like regular and sparkling water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened teas and coffee.
- Limit alcohol to one drink a day. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or one-and-a-half ounces of liquor.
Young women should get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise such as walking, jogging, biking or dancing most days a week. In addition, do resistance training activities at least two days a week. This will help keep your muscles and bones strong. Resistance training may include free weights, wrist and ankle weights, and rubber resistance bands.
Reviewed January 2013