A Good Eat

Like most couples planning their wedding, you've probably got enough on your plate without the extra stress of how to lose a little weight so you can fit into the perfect gown or get that James Bond silhouette in your tuxedo. But if getting in better shape is high on your list of priorities, the place to start is with good nutrition.

Here are our eight basic do's and don'ts which will get you looking great for your wedding photographer!

Don't starve yourself

The first step to eating well and achieving your optimal body shape is to not starve yourself. Unfortunately, crash diets seem to be more the rule than the exception when it comes to shedding those last few pounds, but there are many problems with crash and starvation diets:

Your body is literally starved of food. Consequently, your body becomes very efficient and conserves energy by lowering its metabolism. When this happens, it actually becomes harder to lose weight, as your body wants to hold onto the resources it has, making it easier to put weight on.

You feel awful. If you're not consuming enough calories, it's given that you'll get grumpy, irritable and lose your concentration. Considering the important planning decisions you have to make, you want to be in top mental shape!

You won't look any better. Sure, you'll lose weight but much of that will be water and muscle, essentially meaning you will become a smaller version of your previous self. Retaining muscle and losing fat through wise food choices provides the lean, sculpted and athletic look most of us are after.

Your hormonal balance may be affected. Crash diets may contribute towards menstrual irregularities in women and men can also suffer from hormonal disruptions. In particular, extremely low-calorie, low-fat diets have been shown to decrease the level of testosterone in men, one of the primary hormones concerned with muscle gain and fat loss, not to mention the male libido!

Do take your time

While losing some excess weight won't happen overnight, it's probably easier than you think into get into shape for your big day, and, more importantly, stay there. By making subtle changes in what you eat, over time you can considerably improve both your health and physique. In developing better eating habits, it's important to focus on progression and not perfection. If you have a little bit of chocolate cake, don't beat yourself up about it. Just try to keep your treats to a minimum. See the table, for some examples of better food choices.

Don't always go for processed

Highly processed foods, such as potato chips and biscuits, are high in sugars and fats. Not only are they loaded with calories, they won't satisfy your appetite, making you feel hungry again sooner. On the other hand, wholegrain foods such as wholemeal bread, brown rice and rolled oats are high in fibre and bulk, and give you that full feeling.

On the subject of fats, however, there are some that are actually good for us. These fats, found in foods such as fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds and avocado, do more than just reduce the risk of heart disease – they can also delay hunger pangs. Incorporate these healthy fats into your evening meal.

Do remember your greens

Most of us don't eat anywhere near enough veggies. Vegetables provide plenty of fibre and lots of vitamins and minerals. They are particularly high in antioxidants, which help reduce the oxidative damage linked to illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, premature ageing and poor skin health. Eat vegetables as frequently as you can during the day. While vegetables are high in bulk and nutrients, they're also low in calories.

Another highly nutritious food is berries. Although they aren't quite as low in calories as vegetables, they're extremely high in vitamins, particularly antioxidants, and make a great addition to breakfast oats, muesli or protein smoothies.

Don't eat high-fat dairy

Bad fats to avoid include high-fat cheeses, heavy cream and ice cream. Instead, stick to low-fat dairy products such as non-fat milk. For many of us, low-fat dairy products are convenient source of protein and calcium. In fact, the particular type calcium that is found in dairy has been shown to help speed fat loss!

Do eat low-fat protein

Try to always eat a low-fat protein source at every meal, such as lean meats, low-fat cottage cheese, good quality protein powders and low-fat, reduced carbohydrate milks (try to find one that doesn't contain skim milk solids.) These kinds of foods will help keep your metabolic rate elevated, as not only does protein have less chance of being converted to fat than either fats or carbohydrates, it also requires more calories to digest. Protein is especially important for preserving your lean muscle.

Don't over-indulge

Commonsense tells us that over-indulging in alcohol is not great for the way we look, but we have to live, too! If you're having one or two drinks once or twice a week and you're practicing good nutrition, then there shouldn't be a problem. The occasional tea and coffee is also fine, in fact, you'll be pleased to learn that they are high in antioxidants.

Do enjoy your food

Finally, remember that eating well doesn't have to be a chore. Just enjoy it. Let's face it, a great big salad with some beautifully cooked chicken or fish and a little dressing is much more appetizing than a greasy pie! If you do most things right most of the time and have the odd treat, results will happen. But, if you're really having trouble, there are many fantastic nutritional consultants who would be happy to help you out. Ask around and get a recommendation from someone you trust.

If you're hungry….eat, but make sure it's a good food choice!