On The Table

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How to Create a Healthy Diet for Women

From age to life stage, many factors can impact women’s nutrition. Getting the nutrition your body needs is key and these practical tips can make all the difference!

How to Create a Healthy Diet for Women

With the many life stages women face, it’s normal to have questions concerning the best diet plan for women.

What is a balanced diet for a woman? What is the best diet for women? What foods should females eat? Does the best weight loss diet plan for women exist? 

Learn expert-approved tips you can put into practice ahead, including how to create a healthy diet for women. 

What Is a Balanced Diet for a Woman?

While each woman has different dietary considerations, every woman needs three macronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients you need the most in terms of amount—namely protein, carbohydrates (or simply carbs), and fats. Foods with macronutrients also contain micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals. 

As a woman, your meal plans may differ from one stage of life to the next. However, each dietary pattern you pursue should contain a sufficient amount of each macronutrient. A balanced diet contains each of the following food groups.

Lean Protein 

Protein from the diet is key for maintaining many body processes. Beyond helping you feel full between meals, protein is used by the body to repair and recover. Although red meat is considered part of the protein food group, lean meats in particular are linked to reducing heart disease and other health risks. 

Lean meat can provide plenty of protein and calories to keep you satisfied. If you don’t know where to start, consider healthful sources, such as: 

• Fish such as salmon, trout
• Lean cuts of beef or pork, including ground meat
• Skinless poultry like chicken and turkey
• Unsalted nuts and seeds 

Quality Carbs 

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve probably heard about a low-carb diet. Many weight loss diets contain too few carbs, making it hard to keep the body fueled and nourished. 

Whether you are trying to lose weight or not, eating enough carbs is crucial to providing the body with the energy it needs. Selecting quality carbs over refined grains can help you consume sufficient nutrients, plus plenty of fiber to keep you feeling full. 

Quality forms of carbohydrates come in certain foods, including: 

• Fruits and vegetables—apples, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens
• Legumes—beans, lentils, and peanuts
• Whole grains—brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal

Healthy Fats 

Did you know that fats are also essential for assisting your body in absorbing certain vitamins? Fat-soluble vitamins need dietary fats to do their job. Healthy fats not only taste good but help you feel satisfied and full after eating a meal. 

Additionally, healthy fats can reduce your risk for serious diseases. In a recent study, researchers found that eating just a ⅛ cup to ¼ cup of nuts per day is linked with a reduced risk of multiple chronic conditions (including cancer). 

Swap saturated fats for unsaturated (“healthy”) fats by adding the following foods to your diet. 

• Avocados
• Fatty fish (i.e. tuna, sardines)
• Nuts and seeds 
• Olive oil

A great example of a diet that includes all three of these aspects is the Mediterranean diet. It’s a predominantly plant based diet, but it also includes plenty of health fats and lean meats to help the body feel full. Plus, it’s linked to better heart health and benefits like reduced blood pressure. 

6 Steps For A Female-Focused Diet 

Looking for simple, practical steps to put into practice? Begin with these steps to start building a balanced diet today. 

1. Start With Life Stage

Did you know that recommended macronutrient ranges may change as you age or go through a certain life stage? For example, adult women ages 70 and above need 46 grams of protein each day while women who are breastfeeding need at least 71 grams per day. 

Certain conditions can also affect the types and amounts of macronutrients you need. For example, a pregnant woman experiencing gestational diabetes may need to modify her carbohydrate intake in order to balance blood sugar and achieve optimal health outcomes. 

Starting your journey by considering your specific circumstances allows you to thoughtfully design a dietary pattern that meets your unique needs. Knowing your ultimate goal (i.e. weight loss, lowering blood pressure) can help inform your food choices along the way. 

2. Eat Enough 

A major fault with many weight loss programs is that the amount of overall calories is insufficient. While the old adage “move more, eat less” holds some truth, it is important to pair mindful movement with mindful eating practices. 

If you have no idea how much “enough” is for you personally. Using the DRI Calculator from the USDA can be a helpful place to start. You can input your current height, weight, activity level, and if you are pregnant or lactating. The results can provide a rough guide for how many calories you should be eating based on your input. 

Like any diet assessment tool, this calculator isn’t perfect. However, combined with regular healthcare visits (i.e. appointments with your doctor or dietitian), this calculator can help point you in the right direction. 

3. Build A Balance Plate

Knowing how to build a balanced plate is also a foundational skill when it comes to eating well for women. MyPlate is a great government resource to learn what your plate should look like. 

Essentially, an adult woman’s plate (at each meal) should typically contain the following food groups or their equivalents:

• ½ - 1 cup vegetables
• ½ cup fruit 
• 2 oz or oz-equivalents of grains or whole grains* 
• 2 oz-equivalentes of protein
• 1 cup of dairy 

*It’s recommended to make at least half your grains whole grains throughout the day. 

Remember, snacks and desserts can also be part of a healthy diet. If your plate doesn’t line up exactly with the values listed above, that’s okay!

Again, the MyPlate website can help you understand what “counts” as a cup or ounce, as well as what a healthy meal might look like when placed on your plate. 

4. Focus On Quality Sources

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re focused on eating better. Instead of burning out on the same foods, focus on eating a variety of quality food sources. 

One example of this concept was already listed above with building a balanced plate. At least half of the grains you select each day should be high-quality whole grains. This can look like trading your morning donut for a whole-grain bagel with low-fat cream cheese.

If you don’t know where to begin, start by swapping nutrient-poor food sources for nutrient-rich ones. For example, popcorn is actually considered a whole grain. However, 1 cup of caramel can be nearly 200 calories and contain plenty of added sugar. Swap this sweet snack for a satisfying cup of plain popcorn, which contains only 30 calories. 

Another example of this principle comes into play when you take a look at fruits. While dried fruit can be a good source of nutrients and make snacks like trail mix more well-rounded, they can also add a higher amount of sugar. Choosing a cup of sliced fruit instead may better suit your health needs. 

5. Adjust For Activity (Or As Needed)

Keep in mind that along the way adjustments may need to be made. Depending on your physical activity, especially if you are an athlete, calorie and protein needs may increase. If you are in a more sedentary stage of life, maybe struggling with morning sickness during pregnancy, your nutrient needs may change in many ways. 

It can feel intimidating to try to find this information on your own. If you feel you don’t fall into the “normal” or “average” category (like the the standard 2000 calorie/day diet), meeting with a dietitian may help you improve your quality of life. A dietitian is qualified to help you assess factors that may affect your diet needs, such as how much you work out or chronic conditions like diabetes. 

6. Consult Your Healthcare Team for Help

Attaining your ideal level of health and wellness doesn’t have to be a solo endeavor. As mentioned above, involving a dietitian or doctor in your journey can ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need. Health professionals can provide practical tips that you may not have thought of before. 

Another perk of working with a dietitian and doctor is that they can suggest supplements if your diet isn’t providing enough nutrients (or if your body is having trouble absorbing them). Cluing your healthcare team means you don’t have to go it alone. Involving health professionals can also keep you accountable for the positive changes you’re making. 

In Conclusion On Creating A Diet For Women 

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard. Simple and practical steps can make evaluating your diet for proper nutrition easier. When in doubt, involve a dietitian in your meal-planning process to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. 


Filippou C, Thomopoulos CG, Kouremeti MM, Sotiropoulou LI, Nihoyannopoulos PI, et al. Mediterranean diet and blood pressure reduction in adults with and without hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Nutr. 2021;40(5):3191-3200.

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Total Water and Macronutrients. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies

Garzon R. MyPlate— The Protein Group: Go Lean With Protein. New Mexico State University. Published December 2018. 

Williams C. Ask a Dietitian: What Makes Carbs Good or Bad? Cooking Light. Published August 2021.