Be food label savvy. You can learn so much by just reviewing a food label before eating; new regulations mean they include information on fats (are they saturated or trans?), salt, protein content, calories, serving size (is this bag of chips one serving or three?), carbohydrates (are they good or bad?) and more.
Skip the soda. Why fill up on empty calories when you can have something equally tasty and much more healthy? Try mixing a small amount of fruit juice with club soda and adding a twist of lemon, or making a pitcher of strawberry-mint water (just add a handful of sliced berries and a sprig of mint and chill for a couple hours).
Not all herbal dietary supplements are created alike. In fact, in recent times the U.S. government has instituted massive recalls of drugs like ephedra, which had been used in supplements for years. Read labels carefully, and ask your physician about the value of supplements and potential interactions with other medications you take.
Variety is essential to sticking with healthy snacking. At work, stock a drawer with fat-free microwave popcorn, small portions of almonds or walnuts, and dried fruit like cranberries or cherries. At home, keep a bowl of fresh fruit handy and pre-cut carrots, peppers, cucumbers or other favorites in the fridge. Happy munching!
What's in season? Eating foods that are plentiful naturally is healthier (and less expensive) than sticking with the same thing year-round, and seasonally available food is often most flavorful and colorful. So go ahead: try some new vegetables, fruits, herbs or seafood this season.
For most women, nutritionists recommend three cups of milk a day. But getting the calcium you need doesn't need to be boring: try including a cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt in a fruit shake, adding feta cheese crumbles to a salad, or enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate in the afternoon as a snack.
Frozen prepared meals are expensive - and often loaded with salt and preservatives. But you can still fill your freezer with healthy frozen meals: make Sunday slow-cooker day and prepare one of your favorites, then divide it into individual servings and freeze them. You'll save money while eating healthy home-cooked meals.
A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis is not a death sentence. Rather, it's a warning that you have to pay more attention to your lifestyle habits and your surroundings. For women don't die from osteoporosis; instead, they die from complications related to the fractures that occur with severe osteoporosis.
We've talked a lot about all the things health care professionals do wrong when it comes to communicating health information. But what about you? What is your role in the relationship? Well, as with any relationship, health communication is a two-way street. I know that I rely on my patients to tell me about any confusion they may have, or about things they don't understand, just as much as I rely on them to tell me where it hurts.
Author: HealthyWomen and American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Published by: National Women's Health Resource Center, Inc., December 2010
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