86 chapter 5: Taking care of your body
Eat well for good health
All women need good food to do their daily work, to prevent illness, and to have
safe and healthy births. But not eating well (poor nutrition) is the most common
and disabling health problem among women in poor countries. When food is not
shared equally within a family or a community, it is usually women, especially
disabled women, who do not get enough.
Starting in childhood, a girl is often given less food to eat than a boy. As a
result, she may grow more slowly, her bones may not develop properly, and this
can cause a disability later
in life. For a girl who was
born with a disability, it can
For better health,
everyone in the
family, including girls
make her disability worse.
Also, when a woman who
does not get enough to eat
and women with
enough good food.
(is malnourished) becomes
sick, she is more likely to have
A healthy diet
You do not need to eat all the foods on page 87 to be
healthy. You can eat the main food you are accustomed
to, and if possible, add as many of the other
foods as are available in your community.
Foods with protein are especially good for
keeping skin and muscles strong, and foods
with calcium (milk and milk products, green
leafy vegetables, soy beans, and shellfish) are
especially good for keeping bones strong.
The health worker told
me I should drink more
milk and eat green
leafy vegetables. But
I save all our milk for
my husband and son,
and we don’t have the
money to buy fresh
Here are some suggestions:
• a main low-cost food, such as rice, maize millet, wheat, cassava, potato and
• some foods with protein from an animal, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs,
fish or meats (which help build the body).
• other sources of protein, such as beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, seaweed, soy.
• fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals (which help protect and
repair the body).
• and a small amount of fats and sugar (which give energy).
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007