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Women: Nurturing Others, Neglecting Themselves

Self-Care & Mental Health

By guest blogger Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN

Women wear many different kinds of hats. There's a hat that says "gatekeeper" and another that says "food shopper" and others for chauffeur, dry cleaner, nurse, teacher, businesswoman, caregiver, psychotherapist and so on. But the one hat that they rarely put on is the one that says "self care." That's the one that gets shoved to the back of the closet and never worn. It's the hat you tell yourself you'll wear "someday."

Well, guess what, ladies—that day will never get here unless you circle it on your calendar and make it happen. While juggling all of the family's activities and demands, a woman rarely pays attention to her own needs, particularly her state of health. Her needs often go unnoticed and get neglected. A pain in the chest, a persistent headache, or gastrointestinal discomfort would bring immediate attention if that distress occurred in her partner, parent, child or friend. But when those medical issues resonate in the body of the woman of the house, a doctor visit is rarely on the to-do list. The women I counsel are more concerned with the way they look than the way they feel.

Although we seem to mega-multitask, it doesn't necessarily mean that we are getting all of our jobs done well. Quality time with friends and family, as well as the quality of our diets, may suffer as we burn the candle at both ends.

Although there probably isn't a story out there that will convince you to lighten your schedule, how about trying to eat foods that multitask? How do foods multitask? By fitting into breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks while providing a multitude of health benefits—all at the same time. It's not easy to fit everything you need into a day's worth of food, so it's smart to seek and enjoy foods that do double duty.

Here's how you can take better care of yourself and set a good example for others with these examples of magnificent multitaskers:

  • Depend on dairy. Milk, cheese and yogurt are loaded with essential nutrients, including those most women don't get enough of like calcium, vitamin D and potassium, and dairy products are easy to add to your daily diet.
    • Cheese – Try to find cheese that's 50 to 75 percent reduced in fat. Many of these products also have reduced lactose and are loaded with protein and calcium. Cheese fits into any meal and makes a perfect portable snack for on-the-go energy, especially when paired with whole-grain bread, crackers or fruit. Kids and adults can create quick, delicious dishes with cheese without any meal prep needed.
    • Yogurt – If you haven't tried Greek-style yogurt, what are you waiting for? Most have the same amount of hunger-squashing protein as a 3-ounce chicken breast in just one 8-ounce cup and, in concert with its carbs, provides long-lasting energy.
    • Milk – Be sure to choose 1 percent or skim milk—even in that cup of coffee you grab at the deli.
  • Achieve it with almonds. Just 23 crunches provides as much protein as an ounce of meat, as much calcium as a half slice of cheese, as much fiber as an apple, more magnesium than a bowl of oatmeal, the same amount of antioxidants as a cup of green tea and one-third of the vitamin E you need for the whole day! Studies show almonds can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, cut risks of diabetes and may prevent weight gain because of their hunger-halting satisfying taste.
  • Say it with salad. Without going into great detail, this bowl provides a cornucopia of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols, omega-3s and a list of other names that are hard to pronounce but are easy to fit into your daily diet. The deeper the color of the veggies, the deeper the nutrient value.
  • Build a breakfast cereal. Breakfast has been linked to many health benefits including improved concentration and performance in the classroom or the boardroom, more strength and endurance to engage in physical activity, lower cholesterol levels and a lower body weight by reducing hunger. But I'm not talkin' doughnuts and black coffee. Pour a potent bowl of cereal providing a wealth of whole grains, fiber, vitamins and minerals and top it with low-fat or skim milk and fruit to start your day by putting your best food forward.

It's also so important to move your body and get some exercise and find ways to de-stress. And please don't forget to pass the word on to your mother, sisters, daughters and friends. Now is the best time to invite better habits into your life without having to change you life to create healthier habits.

Remember, in taking better care of yourself, everyone else that you care for will reap the benefits too.

Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, is a nutritional consultant, motivational speaker and author of Read It Before You Eat It. You can learn more about her here: and follow her on Twitter by going to Bonnie is also a current member of HealthyWomen's Women's Health Advisory Council.

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