Healthy Dining Tips For Women In Their 20 and 30s
Bring back the dinner party. Women and men in this age group are more likely than other generations to see restaurants as a place to gather socially, according to research firm Technomic. And while there’s nothing wrong with dining out, doing so frequently can be a challenge to your health—more than 90 percent of meals from sit-down restaurants (both chain and local) have more calories than the average person should eat in a day, according to a 2016 Tufts University study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
To keep your social calendar booked but minimize the dietary damage, invite friends to your place, where you’ll have control of the menu and can serve more nutritious but equally delicious foods—think beet hummus and crudités and watermelon and feta skewers for hors d’ouevres instead of fried calamari and spinach and artichoke dip. “Learning how to prepare simple, healthful meals now will get you into the habit for a lifetime,” says Maxine Siegel, R.D., manager of food testing at Consumer Reports.
Focus on folate. Women of childbearing age—even if they aren’t actively trying to get pregnant—should pay attention to getting enough of the B-vitamin folate. It’s needed for a developing baby’s proper cell growth and for preventing neural tube defects like spina bifida.
Foods like lentils and dark green vegetables are good sources of the nutrient. Supplements, however, can be a more reliable source, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine. If you’re actively trying to become pregnant or plan to start within a month, consider a supplement, and continue it throughout your pregnancy. Aim for 400 micrograms per day, which is the amount recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Learn to prep healthy food, fast. Takeout is convenience-wise but often health-foolish. Fortunately, with a little planning you can whip up a meal in about the same amount of time it takes to have a pizza delivered. Designate an hour or so on a weekend toward prepping a variety of versatile ingredients like grilled chicken, chopped veggies, quinoa, beans, and grated cheese that you can combine in different ways throughout the week, says Amy Keating, R.D., one of Consumer Reports’ registered dietitians.
Make smart seafood choices. The most recent guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency advise women of childbearing age to avoid high-mercury fish like swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, and bigeye tuna. A Consumer Reports analysis found that 20 percent of samples of canned light tuna tested contained high amounts of the toxin; as a result, CR experts recommend that pregnant women avoid it altogether and other women eat it only in moderation. Eating a 4-ounce serving of the lowest mercury fish, such as salmon, sardines, and shrimp, two to three times per week, however, will keep mercury exposure low while providing you with a healthy dose of omega-3s, fatty acids that are important for infant brain development and preventing heart disease.