Getting married is exciting! You not only get to tell the love of your life that you want to spend the rest of your life with them, but you get to have a big party to prove it, along with several smaller ones.
You finally did it! You picked out your perfect wedding dress, allowing for plenty of time to have it ordered in your size and shipped in time for your wedding. Then it hits you: this will be MONTHS from now and with all the upcoming pre-wedding celebrations, how can you be sure that the size ordered will still be suitable when it arrives?
While you’re focused on putting together the perfect big day, you are probably having a few pre-wedding celebrations as well. Regardless of their size, the one thing most gatherings have in common is FOOD.
Eating together to celebrate is a cornerstone for gatherings of any culture, with alcohol often also added to the mix. Between the engagement party, bridal shower, bachelorette, and wedding food tastings, many brides struggle to keep their dress size in check for their big day.
Here are 3 tips that will help you fit into that wonderful dress you ordered, months later:
1) Avoid Stress Eating and Drinking
Many people turn to food and drink when they are stressed out, often craving sweets and refined carbohydrates (carbs). This a stress response rooted in our biology. When we eat carbs and sugars, our brain releases a chemical called serotonin, which improves mood and induces calmness.
Alcohol also has a calming effect, as it changes the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain to decrease the response of nerve cells.
However, the long-term consequences of poor eating habits and excess alcohol consumption far outweigh their short-term benefits. Refined carbs and sugars—including sweet cocktails—increase the body’s production of insulin, often followed by a sugar crash and a renewed feeling of hunger. This is a double whammy, as insulin is a fat storing hormone and the sugar crash causes an even greater intake of calories. As well, keep in mind that alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is almost as much as a gram of fat.
Instead, aim for a balanced plate that includes half vegetables, a quarter complex carbohydrates, and a quarter lean proteins. This will help balance out your calories, as well as ensure you are getting a good range of nutrients in your diet. If you choose to consume alcohol, do so in moderation, with no more than 2 standard drinks on most days and even less whenever possible, as alcohol can really pack on the pounds and interfere with vitamin absorption7. Remember that 1 standard drink is equal to 12oz of 5% beer/cider/cooler or 5oz of 12% wine or 1.5oz of 40% spirits, while your glass may hold more than that .
2) Don’t use food as reward
After checking a few big things off your seemingly never ending to do list, it is often tempting to reward yourself with a nice dinner or a yummy treat. This is often a learned response, especially if your parents used food as a reward when you were younger. Over time, our brain connects accomplishment with food treats and we end up reaching for those “sometimes” foods more often than we should. This can add up over time. For example, if you reward yourself with a Starbucks Grande white chocolate mocha made with 2% milk (no whip cream) and peanut butter cookie once per week, that will equate to 880 calories per week, which adds up to 13 lbs per year[4,5].
Instead of rewarding yourself with food, think of new creative ways to pat yourself on the back. Go for a manicure, buy a new shirt, play a board game with your partner, or just take some time to relax with a good book or craft activity.
If your partner likes to spoil you with chocolates and yummy things, encourage them to be your ally by getting you things like a card or flowers instead.
3) Stick to the 90/10 rule
In life, it is nearly impossible to have perfect eating habits. Particularly when things get hectic and the number of social gatherings increases, some less desirable food choices are bound to happen. This is perfectly fine, but needs to be planned out in order to avoid excess weight gain.
Enter the 90/10 rule of eating: 90% of the time you are eating healthy and 10% of the time you allow yourself to have less desirable food choices. For someone who eats 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, this roughly translates to 2 less healthy meals and 1 less healthy snack per week.
This allows for increased food choice flexibility and a break from the constant meal vigilance that causes most people to give up the health habits they are working on. The most important thing is to get right back to healthy choices at the next eating occasion and ensure that this provisional rule doesn’t become too flexible.
Wishing you great health and good food,
RD, M.A.N., BASc
 Drinkaware. (n.d.). Calories in alcohol. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/check-the-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/appearance/calories-in-alcohol
 National Alcohol Strategy Advisory Committee. (2011, January 1). Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/a_z_mental_health_and_addiction_information/alcohol/Pages/low_risk_drinking_guidelines.aspx
 Northwestern Dining. (2013, April 11). Creating a Balanced Plate. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://northwesterndining.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/creating-a-balanced-plate/
 Starbucks Canada. (n.d.). Starbucks Nutrition Information. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://globalassets.starbucks.com/assets/A2E335A5622444DBB80EC595038AE441.pdf
 Starbucks Canada. (n.d.). Nutrition by the cup. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://globalassets.starbucks.com/assets/7cd1d989cd0c4ddba75b22d53f7af8bc.pdf
 State Government of Victoria. (n.d.). Know the Facts: Helping you make informed decisions about your drinking. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://www2.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/saywhen/know-the-facts/how-alcohol-works-alcohol-and-the-brain
 State Government of Victoria. (n.d.). Short-term Effects of Drinking. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://www2.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/saywhen/know-the-facts/consequences-of-drinking-short-term-effects
 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. (n.d.). Eat Right. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/healthy_living/hic_What_We_Eat_Affects_How_We_Feel