Anyone who has gone through the wedding planning process knows that not only is this one of the most exciting times, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Firstly you are basically juggling two jobs, your normal job during the day and event planning in the evening! If that wasn't enough, you then have the added pressure of being 'wedding ready' for your big day! The word 'wedding diet' looms over you throughout the period and you are bombarded with far too many different recommendations on how to lose weight/tone up/clear your skin/grow your hair/strengthen your nails....I mean the list really does go on and on! It's no wonder so many brides feel mentally and physically exhausted by the time the day arrives.
I got married a couple of weeks ago, and I tried to take the most balanced approach I could to prepare for the wedding, which meant that during the week before the wedding I didn't feel overly stressed, starved or frazzled, which was a relief!
I thought I would share with you some of the guidelines I followed in my preparation in case they are helpful for anyone embarking on their wedding preparations. It's worth mentioning that everyone is different and what has worked for me won't necessarily work for someone else, so it's always important to try things out and listen to your body. If it's not responding well to it then stop and try something else.
When it comes to wedding preparation, the most obvious and often controversial topic is diet so I thought this would be the best area to focus on.
There is a fine line between wanting to look your best, which sometimes means losing a bit of weight, and going overboard and starving your body of essential nutrients.
Below are my top three guidelines when it comes to dieting for your wedding.
1 - Ditch the Sugar
I don't eat much refined sugar, but I am definitely a fan of the natural sweet treat so one of the biggest changes I made was to pretty much eliminate all sugars. This included fruit (probably the hardest!). To kick start this I eliminated all sugars, including fruit sugars, for 4 weeks. This weaned me off the sweet stuff and then I just kept going. After the 4 weeks I did relax a little and had a little fruit here and there, but stuck to a particularly low sugar diet until my Wedding Day.
Not only did this eliminated my sweet cravings, which meant I snacked a lot less, but it also improved my digestion and energy levels.
If you still eat refined sugar then tackle that first, remove it from your diet and replace with a small amount of natural sugars such as fruit, honey and coconut palm sugar. If you are already on a refined sugar free diet then test how you feel on a slightly lower sugar free diet.
It's worth mentioning I wouldn't recommend this as a long term approach, a small amount of fruit in the diet is an amazing source of vitamins and fibre, but it's something that has worked for me for a short period of time in the run up to my wedding.
2- Carbs Aren't The Enemy
The first thing that jumps to your mind when you think weight loss is to cut the carbs, but this is probably one of the most common mistakes you can make.
Carbohydrates are fundamental for general body and brain functions, so hardly something you want to be compromising when you are approaching your big day.
Instead of embarking on a no carb diet then, it's more important to focus on the type of carbs you are having and when you are eating them. Refined carbs, such as white bread, pasta and processed foods quickly convert into sugar and result in a spike in your blood sugar levels, any excess which isn't immediately used as energy then gets stored as fat (not ideal!). Complex carbs such as brown rice, vegetables, fruit and wholegrains take much longer for the body to break down into sugar, therefore are released more slowly into the blood and are more likely to be used as energy and therefore less likely to be stored as fat (result!).
It's as important to know when to be eating your carbs. Think of it as your body's additional fuel, so if you have increased your exercise regime then you need to use these complex carbs to fuel your body with the additional energy.
So as I prefer to exercise first thing in the morning I aim to have the majority of my carbs earlier on in the day to ensure my body has enough energy to recover from the session, I then reduce this later in the day when my body doesn't need the extra energy!
Again it's about finding the balance that works for you and your exercise routine, it's all about trial and error so start experimenting with the type and amount of carbohydrates that make you feel you best.
3 - Don't Starve
Finally the main thing is not to starve yourself! I read so many bridal blogs about extreme calorie restriction diets that may have resulted in dramatic weight loss but left the bride feeling gaunt, lacking energy and outright miserable on the day!
Extreme dieting leads to you literally starving your body of essential nutrients which is simply a path to disaster and a completely counter productive approach if you want your body to look and feel its best on the big day!
Calorie restriction and 'quick fix' diets will not only leave you lacking energy, which is not what you need when you want to be enjoying your wedding day, but they also impact your immune system which means you are much more likely to get ill in the run up or on your honeymoon.
The approach I took is one of balance. If you start early enough, say 6 months, and slowly start to change you diet so you are nourishing your body with nutrient rich foods, reducing those which you know aren't the most beneficial and start an exercise regime which you love then by the time the big day arrives you will not only look your best on the outside, but you will feel your best on the inside too.