Susie Burrell

‘your food, your body, your life’

Women’s Nutritional Requirements

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Australian Bananas.

It goes without saying that women have different nutritional requirements to men. More specifically, different nutritional requirements depending on different ages and stages of life. So as we celebrate International Women’s Day this month, it seemed like a perfect time to also talk about the specific nutritional requirements of women and how some foods can play key roles in managing some different issues women may be dealing with.

When your energy demands are high

Whether you are a busy woman in her 20’s juggling a few different jobs and an active social life, or a tired mum of 2 kids also working full time, there is no doubt that busy women need energy rich foods to fuel their days. In food terms this translates into eating regular, nutrient rich meals every 3-4 hours, and ideally meals that include a carbohydrate rich food. Think oats with banana for breakfast or a banana smoothie, sandwich or wholegrain wrap for lunch and nutrient rich snacks such as banana and peanut butter on corn cakes or nuts and fresh fruit to optimally fuel your days.

When it’s that time of the month

Fluid retention, fatigue and irritability are all common experiences the week before and during period time and what we choose to eat too can impact how we are feeling. It is normal to want to eat a little extra at this time, with a drive to consume roughly 300 extra calories a day so don’t beat yourself up too much about an extra chocolate bar or two. High water, high potassium foods including vege juices, soups, bananas and melons will help to reduce fluid retention while foods rich in Vitamin B6 including oats, bananas, chicken and peanuts have been shown to help ease the symptoms of PMS. 

When you are breastfeeding

While pregnancy places enormous demands on a woman’s body, the period post birth juggling a newborn plus making enough milk when you are exhausted to feed your baby can be one of the more energy taxing times a woman can go through. For this reason not only getting enough calories but the right type of calories is crucial. Aiming for protein rich meals with plenty of good fats as well as carbs for energy every 3 hours will help to ensure you keep your appetite under control but also to give yourself enough calories to help produce milk. Think wholegrain or protein toast with avo, super smoothies with nut spread, bananas, milk and yoghurt. Salmon or tuna on crackers or sandwiches and lean meat with pasta as small but nutrient rich meals.

When the change is coming

Menopause and peri-menopause gets a lot more air time in current times as women are far more open about the significant physical changes and symptoms they experience throughout their late 40’s and 50’s. Weight control can become more challenging post menopause, and a diet higher in protein and good fats with less carbohydrate can aid weight control. Most importantly, it is diets higher in processed foods, sugars and fats that have been shown to worsen the experience of menopause, compared to diets packed full of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and good fats.

When the years are ticking by

It may come as a surprise to hear that our nutritional requirements only increase as we get older and seem to keep our muscles and bones as strong and flexible as possible. Calcium is a nutrient Aussie women still do not get enough of to preserve bone health so aiming to include calcium rich foods at least 2-3 times a day is crucial. Magnesium too can be on the low side and is linked to muscle aches and pains. A daily serving of nuts and seeds, leafy green veges and a banana a day will help to tick the box of your daily magnesium requirements. While aiming for a protein rich food at each meal and snack will help to protect muscle mass and keep our bodies strong and on top of metabolic rate as we get older.