Biologically speaking, men and women are, in fact, different (equal, but different). Women get periods, go through menopause and even deliver babies. And although each of these stages come with its specific challenges, we know, in the end, it’s just part of being a woman–and it’s worth every aggravation.
Canadian health professionals just put together the ultimate female nutrition guide. And in doing so, they also helped to point out why men and women need different nutritional practices. This isn’t an ordinary nutrition guide, though: it was made collectively by dozens of dietitians (so this thing’s legit).
“Women have different needs than men for a number of reasons. Some are more obvious, during pregnancy and lactation, for example, the amount of energy a women needs as well as their need for certain vitamins and minerals increases to support themselves as well as their baby,” said Deborah O’Connor, a dietitian and a principal author of the guide. “Other differences are less obvious and relate to physiology. For example, older woman are at greater risk for osteoporosis following menopause so health care providers pay close attention to calcium and vitamin D intakes in women.”
Although the nutrition guide is 65 pages long, the summary pretty much says it all by suggesting key nutritional information for each stage of a woman’s life. For example, the guide recommends that pregnant women shouldn’t actually be eating for two. They should only have two to three extra servings from any of the food groups instead, during the second and third trimesters.
Other nutritional advice from the guide includes how: teenagers should eat at home with their families for better results in school (which would probably be true for boys too), breastfeeding women should have 105 grams of fatty fish each week and women going through menopause should exercise with weights to strengthen their bones.
Part of the guide also suggests how “women who are at high risk for iron deficiency… [from] significant blood loss due to menstruation [and] child birth” need to eat more iron. Because women lose blood naturally on a monthly basis, we need to be more conscious of our dietary iron intake than most men do.
The guide even points out that “weight control consistently emerges as a major concern among women in/at menopause, and weight gain is typical at this time.” Because the female body is different from a man’s, even on a hormonal level during menopause, we need to be aware of our differences to eat properly.
“That said, much of the guidance for healthy eating found in this document, such as eating more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts, applies to men as well. Both men and women should consider talking to their family doctor or a dietitian about their eating habits,” O’Connor said.
This food guide has the potential to help women and men alike feel the best they can no matter what changes our bodies are going through. Whether you’re breastfeeding, making your way through menopause or just living life, do what’s right for your own body, not someone else’s.
WATCH: Eight fun tips to help you live a longer life.