Plan ahead to shed pounds before the wedding day

By Susan Collins-Smith
MSU Ag Communications

RAYMOND — For brides who want to shed a few pounds before their big day, nutrition experts recommend proper planning, not fad diets.

“Trendy diets, such as low-carbohydrate diets, are popular and can produce quick results but aren’t the healthiest way to lose weight,” said Brent Fountain, associate professor of food science and nutrition with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “We recommend people lose one to two pounds per week. Any additional weight loss will likely be water loss and not fat loss.”

The healthiest way for people to lose weight is to reduce their caloric intake and increase their physical activity, Fountain said. He suggested three important steps to help brides. First, brides should consider the amount of time available to lose weight and set realistic goals. Second, they should record the amounts and types of food they eat to help determine where they can cut calories. Finally, they should be accountable to themselves in terms of progress.

“It takes a reduction of 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat in one week,” Fountain said. “So people must cut 500 to 1,000 calories per day to lose that one to two pounds per week. In order to cut sufficient calories, you must first know how many calories you currently consume.”

A simple food journal or smartphone application can help brides keep up with daily intake. There are several strategies to help brides stay focused and remain accountable.

Alma Harris, county coordinator with the MSU Extension Service in Washington County, said brides should use an accountability system that works for them.

“There are several strategies that can help brides stay focused,” Harris said. “Place a photo of the wedding dress on the mirror or refrigerator as a reminder of the end goal. Choose a weight loss partner with which to exercise and prepare and share meals. This could be your mom, a bridesmaid or fiancé.

“Commit to take an exercise class at a local gym by paying for classes in advance. Set up a reward system for each goal met, such as buying yourself a much-wanted item each time you meet a goal,” Harris said.

If cutting calories alone seems difficult, adding or increasing physical activity can help supplement calorie reduction.

“A bride whose goal is to lose two pounds per week can reduce the food budget by 700 calories a day and add enough physical activity to burn 300 calories,” Fountain said.

People also might consider restructuring meals and snacks. Fountain recommended eating the largest meal of the day at breakfast or eating moderate amounts of food throughout the day.

“It is very important to break the fast your body experienced while you were sleeping,” he said. “Wedding planning and the events related to marriage, such as moving or buying a home, can be stressful. In stressful situations, people sometimes skip meals and try to catch up at once, which can lead to overeating.”

Fountain suggested people eat balanced meals consisting of a lean protein, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Stress can prompt mindless eating for some, but awareness and preparation can help reduce or stop this behavior.

“The most important thing is knowing what the triggers are,” Fountain said. “Then get prepared. Instead of reaching for chips or cookies, have celery sticks, fruit or sugar-free gum ready to grab.”