Weight management for young women
Submitted by Zhanglin Kong, Registered Dietitian at Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center
People say weight management is a lifelong project for women, which I can’t agree with more. How much you weigh is highly related to how healthy you are, and only a healthy lifestyle can be the most effective way in the long run.
A myth is that slimness is the ultimate goal for weight control. However, different body types affect longevity. For women, an adequate amount of fat is crucial for energy supply, absorption of Vitamins A, D, E, K, and functional reproduction. Stronger muscles gives support to your bones and also burn more calories even while resting. As a result, being too slim is not only unrealistic but also harmful for health. Your body mass index should fall between 18.5 and 24.9 and your fat percentage should be between 21 to 24 percent.
If your BMI equals to or is higher than 25, here are some suggestions.
1. Maintain a regular eating schedule. Skipping meals will make your body crave high-energy foods and you are more likely to overeat in the following meals. Reducing your portions too much will compromise your intake of nutrients, which affect your health and skin tone. So maintain a healthy balanced diet with smart choices of food.
2. Have a balanced meal that is full of plant-based food. Enjoy vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and whole grains. Consume an adequate amount of low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk, low-fat cheese and yogurt. Follow “MyPlate” diet guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (www.choosemyplate.gov) and cook at home as much as possible.
3. Stay active whenever possible. I understand every young lady has a busy schedule, and spending an hour at the gym every day sounds too intense. Not to worry! Try to walk or use the stairs whenever possible. If your destination is only a mile away, walk there — back and forth you will cover 2 miles and be moderately active for about 30 minutes. Or if you take the T, try to stand rather than sit. Every step counts!
4. Snack smart. Healthy snacks in the right portion sizes can add on nutrition and suppress your appetite at regular meal time. For example, a fresh fruit and a cup of milk/yogurt is my favorite snack combination. It gives you vitamins and calcium as well as helping you avoid a huge dinner or late-night snacking.
5. What to do with social eating and dining out? A diet is easily disrupted by restaurant meals, since the salt and fat content can be high. As a young lady, eating with friends is an important part of social life. However, dining out frequently is associated with excess weight and obesity. Choosing healthy restaurants and foods are important. The easiest thing to do is to avoid fast-food chain restaurants. For any menu, choose items with ample vegetables and whole grains. Avoid fried food and ask for sauce on the side. If the portion sizes are big, pack up half of it first or stick with appetizers and soup.
Being overweight not only affects your appearance, but also raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It can cause problems such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and high blood sugar. Maintaining normal body weight can help you prevent these problems. If you are already obese and losing weight is a challenge, make baby steps to start, as even losing 10 to 15 pounds can make a big difference.
This post is also available in: Chinese