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National Nutrition Month and its Importance for Queer Women

Eating right and getting the facts about how to maintain a healthy diet can be daunting. Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with messages about why we should be eating certain foods and “quick-fix” weight loss schemes. I’m sure you are familiar with the marketing plugs promoting low-carb meal options, antioxidant-filled beverages, free-range eggs, and many others. With all of these messages, it can be difficult to focus on what’s important, and why it’s important for you in particular.

The month of March is National Nutrition Month. This month reminds us that it’s especially important for lesbian, bisexual and queer women to be aware of the benefits of a nutritious diet, given that research shows “lesbians are nearly twice as likely to be overweight than heterosexual women.”¹ Overweight and obesity can significantly increase our risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, various types of cancers, stroke, and other health conditions.² Taking small steps toward improving the way we eat can go a long way in improving our long term health outcomes, including living a longer life! Indeed, it is up to us to keep our queer women’s community thriving for as long as possible, right? Right!

Here are five simple tips to keep in mind as you work on improving the way you eat (Go ahead – pin this up on your fridge!):

1) Eat something green every day. Green fruits and vegetables provide essential nutrients that should be included in your daily diet.³ Brussels sprouts are a champion green vegetable, providing us with vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. Chop the sprouts in half and steam them, or lightly pan fry them with some oil, salt and pepper, and you’re good to go! Other great green vegetable and fruit options are broccoli, spinach, kiwi, and green beans.

2) Portion control is key. The majority of Americans (54%) will eat until their plates are clean. Furthermore, it is important for us to take control of how much is on our plates to begin with. If you decide to indulge in the occasional tempting treat, pre-portion the amount that you will eat instead of eating right from the bag. Additionally, if you have the tendency to fill your entire plate during meals, downsize your plates. A serving size of any meal on an 8 to 10-inch dinner plate looks like a good amount of food; the same amount on a 12 to 14-inch plate looks meager, and you’re more likely to dish out more food.

3) Always eat breakfast. One of the many benefits of eating breakfast is weight control. Studies show that those who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who don’t. Eating breakfast has been shown to reduce hunger throughout the day, and can help people eat less and make better food choices for lunch and dinner. Some healthy breakfast options include: whole grains, low-fat protein (such as peanut butter or eggs), low-fat dairy (such as skim milk or low-fat yogurt), and fruits and vegetables.

4) Take it easy on the fried foods. Studies have shown that increased fried food consumption is linked to obesity. We all know very well that our community spends a lot of time at the bars, where ordering onion rings and fries with delicious mayonnaise sauce is very tempting. If you’re hungry at the bar, look for some healthier options on the menu, like a hummus plate or a black bean burger with a side salad.

5) Eat slowly. When you eat quickly, you don’t give your stomach enough time to signal to your brain that it is full. As a result, you will eat significantly more food than your body needs to feel satisfied. If you make a conscious effort to slow down, chew your food thoroughly, and enjoy what is on your plate, you will do your body a big favor and avoid unnecessary weight gain.

Interested in learning more about maintaining a healthy diet? Check out choosemyplate.gov for more healthy eating tips and resources.

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  1. Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (2008, July 02). New Study Focuses on Obesity In The Lesbian Community. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/113612.php
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, August 17). The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html
  3. Livestrong.com. (2011, February 18). What fruits and vegetables are healthy to eat? Retrieved from: http://www.livestrong.com/article/385662-what-fruits-vegetables-are-healthy-to-eat/

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About Betsy

Betsy was born in Chicago and raised in the northern suburbs of the city. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with her B.A. in Philosophy, and went on to pursue her M.A. in Social Work from the University of Chicago. Over the past six years, Betsy has developed and pursued her passion for women’s health, LGBTQ issues, and social justice. In January of 2012, she became the Manager of the Lesbian Community Care Project (LCCP) at Howard Brown Health Center, the largest LGBTQ healthcare organization in the Midwest.

Betsy is thrilled to join The L Stop team to write for the Queering Her Health blog. She hopes the blog will: 1) help LBTQ women get access to health information that is focused specifically on queer women’s health issues, 2) provide resources for LBTQ women to get connected to healthcare that is safe and affirming, and 3) encourage queer women to take care of themselves and their health, because we’re worth it!

Discussion

One Response to “National Nutrition Month and its Importance for Queer Women”

  1. Hey Betsy,
    This is a great article: a compelling case and some really easy, ‘implementable’ tips. Thanks so much! I’m inspired to share it with my community!
    Amy

    Posted by Amy | May 11, 2013, 5:17 pm

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