Okay so you’re in your 20s, young and free right? Women in their 20s put off worrying about their health until later! Believe it or not this is the decade where what you eat effects your body later on in life, so you should start adopting nourishing habits and taking care of your health!
Don’t worry; it’s still not too late, so here they are:
1. Prepare your Skeleton
What most people don’t know is that your bones reach their peak strength when you reach 30 years of age. That means you should be working on increasing bone strength or density in advance. Low bone density leads to increased risk of bone disease (osteoporosis) and fractures later in life.
So this is the time to increase your calcium intake, you should be reaching 1000 mg of calcium per day. Try to add some low fat milk or yogurt in your diet. If you don’t drink dairy, broccoli and leafy greens, sesame and flaxseeds, and dried fruits are also sources of calcium. To increase the absorption of calcium, try adding vitamin D as well to optimize bone strength. Sunshine is the greatest source of vitamin D, so a 15-minute walk on a sunny day will do the trick! Food sources include salmon, and fortified products.
2. Get enough iron
Iron deficiency is a common deficiency in women at this age. You may not be eating enough iron for your body’s functions and this can lead to anemia. You lose iron during menstruation and you may not be reaching your needs. At this age a non-pregnant woman needs 18 mg of iron per day. These can be found in lean meat, leafy greens, beans and legumes, and fortified cereals.
3. Prep your body for a future baby
You may think that it is too early to be pregnant. However, what you should know is that the important nutrient, folic acid is needed during the early days of a baby’s growth to avoid birth defects. This is sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant, so folic acid is important in advance at an ongoing supply.
4. Cut back on the ready-to-eat meals
If you’re living on your own, working or studying hard you may not be having time to cook a well-balanced meal every day and you are eating ready-made frozen, packaged, or microwaveable foods. These foods are often high in fat and salt and are therefore affecting your health. Healthy meals don’t always take a long time to cook! However, if you are going to stick to ready to eat foods read the labels to choose low fat and low salt options, and choose foods that include a balance of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables.
5. Shop Fresh
Enjoy shopping for you own food, enjoy a day at a farmer’s market or spend some time at the grocery store in the fruits and vegetables aisle. Remember, 5 a day! Fruits and vegetables give you important minerals and vitamins and fiber, that should be included in your diet!
6. Don’t just count calories, count nutrients
Okay, calories are important for weight loss but the quality of the food is even more important! A 60-calorie fruit serving is not the same as 60-calories worth of sugar! Fruits have natural sugar, fiber, and vitamins and minerals that refined sugar does not have. Focusing on only the number of calories of foods makes you overlook the nutritional value of foods. The overall breakdown of the food helps in controlling hunger levels; hormones, metabolism and can lead to a healthy weight and healthy body.
7. Eat all your meals
Skipping meals leads to slowing down your metabolism; therefore you will burn fewer calories. It can also lead you to eat more at your next meal and make you choose unhealthy food choices. So try to regulate your eating plan with 3 balanced main meals and 2 healthy snacks in between at regular intervals.
8. Stop the binge drinking
Drinking moderately or the occasional few drinks is just fine. But skipping your dinner to go for cocktails or having too many drinks can lead to either skipping important nutrients that your body needs, or a higher chance of ordering unhealthy bar snacks. Too much drinking results in too much eating! Drinking with your meals can also add calories! Your body always metabolizes the alcohol first and stores the food for later; this ultimately results in weight gain. Eat a health snack before you go out, and sip on 1 glass of wine or liquor with a calorie-free mixer like diet soda.
9. Start a fitness routine
This is time to increase your cardio endurance, tone your muscles, and strengthen your bones. These will pay off in the long run! Starting a fitness routine at this age will turn into a healthy habit for life. In the short-term exercise will decrease stress and increase your metabolism and burn off that chocolate bar you sneaked in! Exercising doesn’t have to be a commitment to a gym membership, try fitting a morning run or a late workout. Home workouts are great ways to fit in activity to your busy schedule; use Youtube for exercise videos or even split your routines to small intervals in the day.
10. Let go of the crash diets and adopt a healthy lifestyle
Liquid detox, soup diet, blood type diet--while these diets promote weight loss, lets face it they won’t last you in the long run. Very low calorie diets and diets where you eliminate foods will be hard to stick to forever. As soon as you start eating normally again you’ll gain the weight. So stop thinking about it as a diet and adopt a healthy lifestyle. This may be a slower weight loss speed but choosing healthy foods will be part of your daily routine that will grow with you.