Corey Hawes MS, RDN, CNSC, LD and Natalie Hawes – RDN Performance

Brides often stress about the weight they want to lose just before the big day almost as much as the wedding planning itself. Unfortunately, many struggle to do so in a healthy and effective manner. Losing weight starts with eating healthy, proper portions, the right food choices and a good regimen.

Proper portions of foods can make a world of difference. Eating too much or too little food can cause weight gain. When you overindulge in foods, your stomach expands to accommodate more food, your mind starts to expect so much food every time, and your body stores those excess calories as fat. On the other hand, failing to eat sufficiently causes your metabolism to slow down in an effort to conserve every calorie you consume for fear of starvation. Reading nutrition labels is a great start to determining how much to eat of each item- even foods that appear healthy have a limit. It is important to pay attention to serving sizes because many packaged foods contain more than one portion, often times encouraging overconsumption. It is not recommended to eat out of the container as this makes it difficult to judge portions, allows faster-eating habits, and promotes mindless eating. It takes about 20-30 minutes for your brain to recognize that you are full; therefore, eating slowly will decrease the desire to overeat. In addition, eating while multi-tasking (such as watching T.V. or reading a wedding magazine) denies your mind the opportunity to appreciate what is being taken in, leading to delayed satiety and overeating. Taking the time to prepare a plate and focus on eating might save you several hundred calories over the course of a day!

Kate McStay Photography

Including all five-food groups across daily meals supports a filling, energy boosting and nutrient-packed diet. Avoiding certain food groups or severely limiting them leads to nutritional deficits that ultimately cause symptoms such as brittle hair and nails, digestion issues, weight gain or fatigue. Carbohydrates have received a bad name online, leading to various fad-diets that require restriction of daily carb intake that includes healthy grains, fruits, and vegetables. The problem with restricting carbs is that they are not solely responsible for weight gain, but they are the main source of energy for your body! It is ideal to eat nutrient-rich carbs (apples, wholegrain toast or beans) rather than “empty calories” or foods that do not offer nutritional value outside of the carbs to provide the most benefit per a snack or meal. Dairy is another food group that has been shamed, but done in the right way can be beneficial for bone health and protein needs.  Low-fat or non-fat dairy, harder cheeses, and dairy high in protein (like cottage cheese) are great additions to a well-rounded diet. Having said this, quality of life is also crucial to any successful diet.  Enjoying a dessert or guilty pleasure on occasion is beneficial for satisfaction and mental fortitude when dieting, but use moderation and make healthy substitutes when possible. Build your plate with half fruits and vegetables, one-quarter grains, and one-quarter meat. In addition, using a smaller plate (7-9”) will aid you in controlling portions and feeling satisfied when eating meals.

Lastly, establishing a good routine will help you keep on track.  Eating three meals a day with snacks in between is ideal for a healthy diet. This regimen supports your metabolism throughout the day and deters situations in which overeating occurs due to hunger. In addition to healthy eating, physical activity is highly recommended. While eating healthy goes a long way, physical activity is what forms your body into the “ideal” shape.

It may be beneficial to consult a dietitian to develop the best plan for you and your needs as they are clinically trained to recognize individual needs and work with various diet preferences/restrictions. Remember, weight loss does not have to be complicated. When your total caloric intake is negative when factoring in intake and exercise, you will lose weight. A healthy and safe weight loss is 0.5 to 2 pounds per a week; so planning ahead is the best weight loss method!