Let the pre-wedding diet countdown begin! And by the looks of these tempting treats from expert nutritionist Jenna Hope, we say bring it on…
Planning a wedding can be stressful enough without the pressure brides put on themselves to ensure they’re looking their best for the big day. Consequently, brides are often led to a quick-fix diet – possibly low carbohydrate, low fat, low calorie or even a juice cleanse in order to shed a few pounds in the weeks running up to the wedding. However, there is no better time to try and adopt a new healthier lifestyle. Changing your diet can not only help you shed a few pounds (if that’s your goal) but it can help you cope with the stress during this time and event promote better sleep and skin to ensure you’ve got that healthy glow! Read on and get your pre-wedding diet sorted…
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18 months before the wedding:
This is the perfect time to begin to kick your sugar habit. Excess sugar can contribute to irritability, stress, weight gain and low energy levels. In order to tackle this wedding planning whilst feeling your best try and reduce your sugar intake. You’ve got 18 months so there’s no need to go cold turkey over night. Start by halving the sugar in your tea and coffee, then limit your sugary snacks to no more than one a day (this includes fizzy drinks). Finally try to ensure that you’re not relying on sugar to pick you up in the afternoons. Opt for foods high in complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats to keep your energy levels sustained. Examples of snacks include: a handful of nuts or roasted chickpeas, an apple with 1 tbsp of peanut butter, Greek yoghurt, berries and cinnamon, a rice cake topped with smashed avocado or nut butter.
During this time you might also wish to start incorporating some exercise into your daily routine. This isn’t to say you need to start pounding it out in the gym if that’s not your style but just getting off the bus or tube a stop earlier and walking or even just try following some yoga or pilates YouTube videos a couple of times a week to get your body moving.
12 months before the wedding:
You’ve still got a year to go and plenty of time to make long-standing dietary changes. Hopefully you’ve kicked your sugar habit by now so it’s time to focus on incorporating more high quality protein and complex carbohydrates into your meals. I recommend creating your meals off the structure below:
Half your plate should be non- starchy vegetables think spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, asparagus and baby corn.
Fill one quarter of your plate with good quality protein such as: lean meat (chicken, turkey), red meat (beef, pork, lamb), fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout, cod, sardines etc), eggs, quinoa, tofu, beans, lentils, legumes.
The final quarter should be filled with complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown pasta, chickpeas, beans, lentils, pulses, starchy vegetables (e.g. sweet potato, butternut squash, parnsips, turnips etc).
1 Thumb size of healthy fats e.g olive oil, cheese, tahini etc.
Honour your hunger levels and try to avoid skipping meals as this will cause you to crave higher sugar foods and more of them.
6 months before the wedding:
By this time more wholefoods should be incorporated into your everyday diet which is great! This is also a stressful time so ensure you’re loading up on fibrous foods such as fruits and vegetables to support a healthy gut function. Stress can contribute to bloating and impaired digestion which is why it’s essential to support the gut. As fibre has a high satiety value it helps to keep you fuller for longer which can help to prevent you from over eating.
Try incorporating pre and probiotic foods too; examples include: Greek yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchii, kefir, miso soup and picked vegetables. Try also reducing your caffeine intake if you’re a big coffee drinker as this can contribute to symptoms of stress and anxiety as it promotes the release of cortisol (the stress hormone). As coffee is also a natural laxative it can contribute to dehydrated skin. Opt for herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile and fruit teas to replace the coffees.
Exercise is also a great way to escape some of the stress for some ‘you time’. You might wish to start upping your exercise to at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
1 month to go!
This is your final 4-weeks to prepare yourself for the big day you’ve been waiting for! During this time try and stay away from crash diets as these can often leave you feeling miserable due to a lack of nutrients and increase the risk of falling off the waggon onto a binge due to the restriction. Continue the advice from the last 18 months and focus on drinking plenty of water (around 2L a day, you may need more if you’re exercising) to support your skin for a healthy glow.
Also ensure you’re not skipping breakfast during this time. Skipping breakfast can cause your energy levels to drop very low which may lead you to over eating and craving high sugar foods. Opt for a breakfast rich in protein and complex carbohydrates e.g. scrambled eggs, baked beans or avocado on wholegrain or rye toast, Greek yoghurt, berries and low sugar granola or a bowl of porridge topped with 1 small banana and peanut butter.
Our thanks to Jenna for this literal food for thought! See more of her excellent ideas and advice at jennahopenutrition.com.