Women play a critical role in maintaining the health and wellbeing of our families but when it comes to their own health, they tend to overlook it and it is almost like women are invisible to themselves. A woman’s health is highly dependent on many social determinants like income, education, employment, social connections, community and safety.
Today’s urban Indian women are suffering from the dual burden of malnutrition as on one hand, the increased consumption of processed foods, unhealthy lifestyles coupled with stress have led to increase in overweight, diabetes and hypertension and on the other hand half of them are also anemic (low hemoglobin). Not focusing on their diet requirements and eating food which is either inadequate in quantity or quality, leads to poor nutrition among women.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Sonica Aron, Founder and Managing Partner at Marching Sheep, shared, “In today’s fast-paced life, self-care seems to take a back seat, particularly among women. Socially conditioned to keep others first- family, work, domestic chores, prioritising self, their own health, and well-being is often overlooked. Eating from leftover children’s plates is something that we have all seen mothers do, without realising the impact of added calories. While the lunchboxes for everyone will be meticulously planned, their own meals will be rushed.”
She added, “From a quick samosa and chai from a stall near the office, or some unhealthy tasty junk that is quickly available to save time. While they will spend hours over nutritiously balanced meals for the kids and their partners and the elderly, their own nutritional needs skip their attention. In a full day, taking time out for a workout seems selfish. They would rather spend that time with family. After all, they did spend all day at work. These are common cognitive tendencies among women, who have been brought up to believe that their first priority is others. It’s time, that women realised that if they are healthy, they will have healthy families and the nation will be healthy.”
Asserting that health is an important part of development that requires attention and care to maintain overall well-being, Dr Meghana Pasi, Nutrition Consultant of MyThali Program at ArogyaWorld, insisted that it is hence very essential for every woman to prioritise her health in order to lead a fulfilling life and listed the following tips:
- Be aware of the risk factors leading to noncommunicable diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers etc.
- Know your family history
- Know your numbers: Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Sugar Levels
- Watch your weight
- Quit smoking and avoid alcohol
- Listen to your body. If something isn’t right, talk to a doctor.
She suggested to practice these healthy lifestyle habits –
1. Practice healthy eating: A well-balanced diet is the KEY to good health. Eat more whole grains, lean proteins, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Avoid processed and junk food. Include Calcium rich foods like almonds, milk and milk products, green veggies, legumes, fish and oil seeds. Have enough Vit D from egg yolk, green veggies, fatty fish and seafood, milk, Vit D supplements.
2. Exercise regularly: Research reveals that reduced physical activity can reduce our immune response to diseases and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other degenerative disorders. Regular physical activity improves immunity and lowers the chance of acquiring diseases. Take up a sport, walk to work, join a gym, dance with your kids or do yoga.
3. Stay hydrated: Dehydration can cause drowsiness, fatigue, loss of focus and mood swings. Drink at least 2 liters of water everyday. Juices, milk shakes, buttermilk, coconut water also are a good way to beat dehydration.
4. Sleep well and avoid stress: Stress is an inevitable part of daily life but it is essential to manage it effectively to prevent it from having negative effects on mental and physical health. Ensure you get 7-8 hours of good sleep everyday to recharge your batteries. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, as well as taking regular breaks and indulging in hobbies or leisure activities.
5. Go for regular health check-ups: A routine annual check-up with healthcare professionals will help identify any potential health issues early and treat them before they aggravate.