Exercise and nutrition are an integral part of your health and general well-being, as well as playing a part in preventing chronic diseases. However, in today’s fast-moving world it can be a challenge to incorporate these in your everyday life. Whether you’re at risk for a chronic disease, want to lose weight the healthy way or simply enjoy a better lifestyle, our experts are here to help you navigate through the journey.
ChristianaCare’s Nutrition Services is a team of highly trained, highly experienced registered dietitians who provide direct nutrition counseling and support to women, who also work with trusted internal physicians and nurses in a variety of multidisciplinary teams, including Cardiac Rehabilitation and Weight Management.
Appointments with a registered dietitian are available in Wilmington, Christiana, Smyrna and Glasgow.
To schedule an appointment call 302-661-3401.
Nutrition & Fitness Tips for Women
Your needs change with age
The benefit of eating healthy food is evident. Studies have found that people whose diets are rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and whole grains have a lower incidence of diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A regular fitness routine is another lifestyle habit that can reap healthy rewards. According to the National Cancer Institute, higher levels of physical activity lower the risk of colon, breast and endometrial cancers. Being active can prevent heart disease and stroke.
However, it’s important to realize that women’s bodies change throughout their lifespan and so do their nutritional needs. Learn how and why you’ll need to adjust as you move from child-bearing years into menopause and beyond, and what you can do if you can’t lose weight despite your best efforts
How much should I weigh?
Instead of worrying about your ideal weight, calculate your body mass index (BMI), which is based on height and weight. ChristianaCare offers a convenient online calculator.
Measure your waist circumference. If your waist is larger than your hips, you could be at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Excess weight can also put you at risk for high blood pressure, some cancers, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, gout and sleep apnea (when individuals briefly stop breathing during sleep). It can also affect fertility.
How much should I exercise?
Your exercise schedule will depend on your goals, your age and your health. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends:
- At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week — or a combination of both.
- Strength-training exercises for all major muscle groups at least twice a week. Do at least one set of each selected exercise. Use a weight or a resistance level at which your muscles will tire after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
If you are looking to lose weight or address a specific goal, you may need to increase the intensity and the frequency. Ask your health care provider for advice. Incorporate exercises that also improve your flexibility and balance.
For tips, see Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
I’m eating the same way I did in my 30s, but I’m gaining weight in my 50s. Why?
As we age, our metabolism slows down. You may need to reduce your caloric intake and step up your fitness routine. Make sure to maintain a healthy diet if you cut calories.
Be realistic about portions. A bagel purchased at a supermarket is usually much larger than the recommended serving size. The Plate Method, developed by the United States Department of Agriculture, illustrates the portion sizes of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins with a color-coded plate.
For information on serving sizes, download the serving size card from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
How does my need for certain vitamins and minerals change over time?
A balanced diet is an excellent way to get the nutrients that your body needs. However, there are times when you may need to augment your diet. Pregnant women, for instance, take prenatal vitamins partly to get enough folic acid, which can help prevent birth defects.
Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones. Your skin’s ability to convert sunlight to vitamin D ebbs with age, and you may need to take a supplemental vitamin.
Many Americans also don’t get enough calcium. People age 50 and up and women are at particular risk. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian before taking supplements. Getting too much calcium can cause health problems, and people with certain conditions should not take a calcium supplement.
How much water do I need?
In general, aim for eight 8-ounce glasses a day. It’s important to drink even when you’re not thirsty. Your ability to feel thirsty diminishes with age. Becoming dehydrated can affect your kidney function.
I’ve made lifestyle changes, and I can’t lose weight. Am I a candidate for bariatric surgery?
You must be morbidly obese, which means your BMI is 40 or higher. Or, your BMI is 35, and you have a medical condition such as diabetes, sleep apnea or high blood pressure. Bariatric surgery can significantly lower the risk of heart attack and stroke for these patients, which is why many insurance plans cover the procedure.
Many people rapidly lose weight after surgery and shed the majority of pounds in the first 18 to 24 months. Before and after, patients receive support from ChristianaCare’s interdisciplinary team, which includes dietitians and nutritionists.
The ChristianaCare Weight Management Center hosts a monthly free weight-loss seminar that provides information about obesity and treatment options, as well as a variety of programs on such topics as nutrition education, the psychological aspects of behavior change and exercise.
ChristianaCare’s Bariatric Surgery Services has free weight-loss surgery seminars for patients.
For more information, visit
Caitlin Halbert, D.O. MS FACS FASMBS
General, Bariatric and Advanced GI Surgery
James Lenhard Jr., M.D.
Endocrinologist, ChristianaCare Endocrinology Specialists
Gabrielle Snyder Marlow, RN
Program Manager, Food and Nutrition Services
Date Last Reviewed: September 13, 2018
Individual Nutrition Counseling
Our bodies are all different and have a wide range of individual dietary needs depending on our health and lifestyle. That’s why we have individual nutrition counseling available any women who wish to eat a healthier diet, whether to lose weight, improve cardiovascular health or just to feel better.
Nutrition counseling can be especially helpful for those with with special nutritional needs, such as those with diabetes, anemia, Crohn’s disease, bulimia, cancer, IBS and other chronic conditions.
To help you begin your journey to better nutrition, our health library has a wealth of food facts and information to help you keep your calories within healthy limits and ensure that you’re making informed food choices.
Whatever your individual needs are, we have the expertise to help you eat for your body to feel better and lead a healthier life. To find out if we can help you with your specialist dietary needs, get in touch today.
We also offer nutrition assessment and counseling for athletes who want to reach peak performance and lower risk of chronic disease.
A computer analysis of your diet will help the nutritionist to evaluate your average calorie, vitamin and mineral intake, as well as any nutrients where you are in excess or deficiency.
We also offer metabolic rate testing to calculate your calorie needs for weight maintenance, gain or loss, measure changes in aerobic fitness, estimate potential and help design your training programs.
Our nutritional assessment services for athletic teams can identify athletes at risk for chronic disease, injury or poor performance due to dietary and lifestyle habits.
Sports nutritionists are also available to give presentations to athletic teams, coaches and parents on sports-nutrition topics.
Nutrition Outreach Programs
ChristianaCare Nutrition Services is available for presentations to your organization or business. Please call us for pricing information to find out what presentations are available.
Nutrition Services also works in New Castle County schools to prevent obesity and promote awareness of the benefits of good nutrition. This includes working through the High School Wellness Centers.
Sports nutritionists are available to give presentations to athletic teams, coaches and parents on sports-nutrition topics, including:
- Nutrition training, recovery nutrition and game-day nutrition.
- Importance of carbohydrates in performance.
- Fluid replacement and protein needs.
- Eating on the road, and pre- and post-competition eating.
- Ergogenic aids.
- Safe and effective weight loss or weight gain.
Call 302-661-3401 if you would like to book an appointment