The months leading up to a wedding is a period filled with much joy and excitement. Yet it is often coupled with anxiety from having to accomplish a million and one things before the big day. For some of you, that may include achieving an ideal figure to look your best as you walk down the aisle. It’s essentially a personal preference that I can understand and empathise with. Unfortunately, I’ve come across one too many brides-to-be self-sabotaging their own weight loss goals. Some go on restrictive wedding diets, while others drive themselves to the brink with daily exercise. That is why I’ve compiled this list for you, of things you should and shouldn’t do in terms of diet (and some exercise) before your wedding.
Photo by Eirik Tan Photography
Gown and make up/hair by Malena Bridal
1. DON’T start a crazy no/low carb wedding diet
This is probably the number one “wedding diet” out there. Carbohydrates provide us with sugar, which is the first source of fuel our body uses for energy. Low or no carbohydrate diets have been shown to lead to mood swings, irritability, and fatigue. These are the last things you want to have to deal with during wedding prep.
Furthermore, as carbohydrates in our body are stored with water, when you cut carbohydrates out of your diet, a lot of the initial weight lost is actually water weight.
Unless you’re someone with a very strong willpower, there is a tendency to crave high carbohydrate, high calorie foods after a few days (or weeks, if you make it that far) without carbohydrates. Because these foods are tasty, it becomes easy to overeat them once you stop the diet. Furthermore, because they’re energy dense, the calories that you previously painstakingly cut out quickly piles on again. Before you know it, chances are that you will be brought back to square one, even if you did lose weight initially.
If anything, the goal should be to lose fat mass and tone up before your wedding. Cutting carbohydrates alone will not help you achieve that.
2. DON’T consume foods that are high in fat and sugar
Instead of going on a generic diet, you might do better focussing on specific food types. Fat is the most energy dense nutrient while sugar provides you energy without giving much else in terms of nutrients—thus termed empty calories.
These foods (think: a double chocolate chip muffin, one handful of potato chips, and 2 Oreo cookies; 364 calories, 150 calories, and 140 calories respectively) can cause you to consume more calories than you think. This is because the calories are so densely packed in a small volume, and more often than not, you consume more than the quantities listed.
But we are only human, and sometimes the cravings do hit, so do not feel like you have to avoid them completely. Rather, if you do choose to have such foods, limit yourself to just a serving once in a while. Also, practice mindful eating to maximise your enjoyment each time you sink your teeth into those foods.
3. DON’T give in to stress eating
During this period leading up to the wedding, there is something to do every single day. I know, having experienced it myself just last year. Planning the wedding venue, where to buy rings, to rent or buy a gown, where to get it, wedding deco, emcee scripts, wedding photographer/videographer, solemniser, actual day run down and much more. The list is never-ending and within each point, sub-points and tasks grow.
The worst thing to do right now is give in to stress eating. Unfortunately, this becomes a part of some brides’ wedding diet subconsciously. Not only does it make you eat more than you need to, it probably won’t make you feel much better for long.
When you feel stressed, take a deep breath, call a friend or a sister to bounce ideas off, and write down the problem at hand, along with potential solutions. This process helps make the issue more tangible and less scary.
When you sit down at a meal, don’t quickly wolf it down because you think you deserve it (even though you probably do deserve it). Take a moment to savour your food and make sure you eat mindfully. Trust me, you will appreciate this time you took out to enjoy your meal, and feel much better about yourself after.
4. DON’T drink too much alcohol
The period after your engagement is definitely a period of celebration. I remember when I started telling all my groups of family and friends about my big day. The reactions and joy of each person was really unique and memorable. As it’s human nature to celebrate good news, that post-engagement period was filled with shaken cocktails and empty wine bottles.
Alcohol may be easy on the taste buds, but in excess, they are definitely not friendly to your waistline or your health. They’re high in calories, and when served with sweetened mixers, can become especially energy dense. If you’re having a serve or two on a rare occasion, that’s fair; but if you can’t tell me how much you’ve had…it’s probably too much.
Also, consuming alcohol triggers hunger and cravings, normally for fat and salt laden, heavy meals. It’s your body’s reaction to lower sugar levels in your body when you drink. To combat this, drink slowly and keep yourself well-hydrated with water in between drinks.
5. DON’T skip meals
This is another common “wedding diet” phenomenon. Skipping meals may seem like the best way to cut calories when they’re in fact the worst. Skipping meals increase your hunger levels, especially before your next meal. They increase food cravings, and the chances of you choosing a higher calorie meal/snack when you eat next.
Furthermore, when meal timings are irregular, it may affect your body’s energy metabolism and your long-term weight.
6. SHOULD start planning ahead for a healthy wedding diet
You may not be going on a strict wedding diet, but if you intend to lose some weight, get planning! Weight loss does not happen overnight, and programs that promise you success in a week or two is unlikely to be lasting. When we talk about weight loss, it is important that it is gradual and sustainable. If you lose weight faster than the recommendation of 0.5 to 1kg a week (for fat loss), it is likely that you’re mostly losing water or worse still, muscle. Muscle is important in maintaining your metabolism, so you wouldn’t want to lose that.
Set goals for yourself. How much weight do you want to lose before your wedding? At a rate of 0.5 to 1kg weight loss a week, when do you need to start? Allow yourself some buffer time for when situations overwhelm you and you don’t get as much control over your food intake or exercise.
7. SHOULD start incorporating some exercise
There is really no way to tone up but to exercise. It’s an unfortunate truth, but one that actually brings you results and is worth all the effort. Have you ever heard a bride who exercised and managed to fit in her dress the way she wanted to, say “Man…I regret exercising to look this way on my wedding day”?
I’m not going to go into details with exercise, I’ll let the exercise experts do it. But the short story is: cardio exercise for fat loss, resistance exercise for muscle tone, and stretches for flexibility.
If you are not doing any exercise at the moment, you can always commit yourself to a breezy 15 minutes a day. That’s probably the time you take to scroll through social media, so I’m sure you can find time for this.
It doesn’t have to be activities like swimming or rock climbing, which involves a whole bunch of equipment and unnecessary transport time. Start with simple things like following a workout video on youtube, or exercise apps on your phone! No reason not to, since they’re all free.
8. SHOULD have sufficient protein intake, especially important to build muscle mass if you’re exercising.
Amino acids from proteins are the building blocks of muscle. If you don’t consume enough protein through your diet, muscle development will be hard no matter how much exercise you’re doing.
There’s no need to purchase protein powders or bars at all. Refer to Health Promotion Board’s handy site for just the right amount of protein from meat, fish, chicken, dairy, tofu, and eggs that you require daily. Are you vegan or vegetarian? Simply check out this article to make sure you get all the amino acids you require. If you want to go one step further, I’ve also written an article on how your protein intake should be spread out across the day to optimise muscle protein synthesis. Or, I could just calculate your personal requirements for you!
9. Increase fibre intake
One of the ways to avoid overeating is to stay full. The reason why a lot of “wedding diets” fail is because they limit portion sizes, causing you to be hungry easily. Fibre from food helps to keep you full, and have been shown to reduce your risk of chronic diseases and cancer. They are found in things like fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, brown rice, grains, nuts, and seeds.
10. Start monitoring your daily calorie intake
There are many complex mechanisms behind our weight, and how quickly we gain and lose weight compared to the next person. Having said that, if you’re overweight, the most straightforward approach to weight loss is to reduce the number of calories you’re consuming. The best way to know how much to reduce by is to determine how many calories you require every day. There are health and fitness apps such as My Fitness Pal that can give you a rough gauge of your daily caloric requirements for weight loss.
You can try it on your own, but do so with caution. If you cut calories in excess, you may be at risk of nutrient deficiencies, hunger cravings, and impaired metabolism, which may backfire on you in the long term. After all, you probably wouldn’t want to fall short of your weight target just a few weeks before your wedding, or immediately regain all the weight lost during your honeymoon.
Photo by Eirik Tan Photography
Henna by Khairhenna
Having said all these, at the end of the day, what’s way more important than your weight on your wedding day, is the celebration of the love between you and your life partner. You only plan for marriage once in your life, and you should enjoy the process. In such a stressful period at this, don’t let your weight be another reason to unhappiness or panicky meltdowns.
However, if your dream for your wedding day is to walk down the aisle -your white gown gliding behind you- in a certain physique, I am here to help. No restrictive or limiting wedding diet, I promise. I’m also here for you if you’re feeling lethargic and listless, or falling sick every other week, and want to know if your diet may be the cause.
Photo by Eirik Tan Photography