As you probably know by now, the initial bliss of engagement is quickly followed by a desire to attain that specific level of thinness and perfection known only to red-carpet celebrities with on-staff personal trainers and chefs. After all, you want to look your absolute best when you stand up on your wedding day in front of everyone you know.
Before you embark on the celery and mineral water diet, take an honest look at your intentions and goals. If you're aching to drop multiple dress sizes in a short amount of time, think again. Crash diets and yo-yo diets (where you resort to extreme measures to lose a bunch of weight and then usually gain it back, plus a few extra pounds) are terrible for your overall health. Despite this undeniable truth, many brides resort to extreme dieting tactics, like popping weight-loss pills or skipping meals. Sure, you might fit into your wedding gown or your high school bikini, but at what a cost?
Take this opportunity to lay the groundwork for a long-lasting marriage by adopting healthy habits for you and your groom. Use our list of 10 nutritious meal and snack choices to increase your health and overall quality of life -- for your wedding day and for your happily ever after.
If you think trading black coffee for a real breakfast is going to turn you into a Heidi Klum clone, think again. Skipping breakfast is one of the best ways to slow down your metabolism and weaken your resolve when you're faced with those doughnuts in the office break room.
Avoid these dieting pitfalls by making oatmeal a regular staple in your diet. As a low-energy density food, oatmeal has fewer calories per volume, according to Weight Watchers. In layman's terms, oatmeal is dense and filling¸ but it's light on calories thanks to its high water and fiber content. By helping you feel fuller for longer periods of time, oatmeal will let you make it to your mid-morning snack without breaking diet protocol.
To heighten the flavor, substitute skim milk for water at the cost of only a few extra calories. Top your bowl with some cinnamon, raisins and diced apples, and you'll have a nutritious and filling start to your day. Brides who prefer a morning protein boost can stir in some peanut butter, walnuts or almonds.
Carbs have gotten a bad rap after numerous diet crazes proclaimed their wickedness. Not all carbs are the enemy, though. Certain complex carbohydrates, such as white pastas, breads and rice are rife with unhealthy bleached flour and refined sugar. Their more beneficial counterparts, such as brown rice and whole-grain bread and pasta are packed with nutrients and fiber that help keep your energy level up and your belly full for longer stretches of time.
Top off whole-grain bread or crackers with a moderate amount of protein-rich peanut or almond butter, and you have the perfect mid-afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner time.
Despite the numerous studies that sing its praises, dairy is often one of the first food groups to get cut by dieters. Many brides-to-be find themselves trading milk for calorie-free water and ditching cheese and yogurt altogether.
Obviously, drinking whole milk isn't going to cut off any inches from your waistline, but turning to its nutrient-rich fat-free version will. Low-fat or fat-free varieties of milk, cheese and yogurt have shown time and again that they have the mettle to keep you fit and healthy while dieting. In fact, research has proven that calcium helps you burn fat, so diets high in dairy tend to be successful. Further studies have indicated that fruit smoothies made with yogurt actually reduce belly fat in particular.
Mother Nature provided us with all of the delicious, filling and low-calorie snacks we could possibly need. So why do we turn to those unnaturally orange cheese doodles when we're hungry? Ditch the oh-so-unhealthy processed foods in favor of fruits like grapes, berries and apples. Fresh fruit is naturally low in calories and fat content, and it's also packed with vitamins and disease-fighting antioxidants, which can keep the sniffles at bay as the big day approaches. Another bonus? Many fruits, like apples, bananas and oranges, are portable and easy to enjoy at your desk, at home or anywhere in between.
What's that sound? It's steak-loving brides around the world breathing a collective sigh of relief that even meat has a place in a real diet. The trick is in the selection. Skip high-fat meat products like hot dogs or bacon in favor of moderately sized portions of lean beef and pork. Selections that feature the words "loin" or "round" in the title are the leanest, most flavor-rich options.
The next time you tire of the never-ending cycle of lean beef, chicken and pork, consider turning to fish to shake things up. Naturally high in protein and low in fat, fish packs a powerful punch in terms of filling you up and not out. The healthiest options are tilapia, tuna and salmon -- try them blackened, grilled or broiled. Steer clear of uber-unhealthy fried fish of any variety, as well as swordfish and king mackerel, which are high in toxic mercury content.
Shocking, right? Aside from rice cakes, leafy green salads are usually the first thing that come to mind when the word "diet" is mentioned -- for good reason! Leafy greens are high in fiber and remarkably low in calories, as long as you don't drench them with full-fat ranch dressing and other unhealthy toppings. The darker green varieties in particular are packed with good carbohydrates, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.
Consider starting off meals with a salad to avoid overindulging on the main course. And don't relegate leafy greens to salads only. There are tons of other ways to incorporate greens into your diet. Spinach is an excellent side dish for virtually any meal, and you can swap out conventional bread or tortillas for large leaves of dark lettuce when eating sandwiches or burritos.
Nuts are a remarkably filling snack, thanks to the fact that they're packed with fiber and protein. The good fats found in nuts actually facilitate the fat-burning process, and they're beneficial for your heart to boot.
Try tossing almonds and walnuts with dried blueberries and cranberries to make a tasty trail mix. One-third of a cup is the right amount to keep you from splurging between meals.
The truth is simple: Deprivation diets don't work. Popping an occasional piece of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate might actually keep your diet on track. Dieters who continually deny themselves invariably snap and overdo it, eating higher quantities of unhealthy fare.
Trust us -- it's better to have a couple of small pieces of chocolate per day than it is to down an entire tub of caramel- and butter-covered popcorn.
Water is one of the most essential parts of our physical makeup, yet it routinely gets tossed by the wayside because we're too busy to fill our glass repeatedly, or we just don't like the taste of it.
This is an all-too-common mistake that can be fatal to the success of your pre-wedding diet. People often mistake dehydration for hunger, loading up on snacks instead of drinking the daily recommended eight glasses of water. It's easy to tweak the beverage if you find water to be underwhelming. Calorie-free mix-ins are available in virtually every flavor at your local grocery store. You can also cut lemons, limes, oranges and cucumbers into wedges and add them to your bottle for an extra burst of flavor.
How can I avoid post-wedding weight gain? Visit TLC Weddings to find out how you can avoid post-wedding weight gain.
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