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Hi there!

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist. We at Nutrition Connections (NC) teach the simplicity behind the science of nutrition & art of healthy living so you can live a nutritionally balanced life! Our mission is to inspire you to live your healthiest, happiest life. We believe health involves all aspects of physical, mental and social health and our goal is to inspire and educate you to make practical changes to live your best life. We look forward to getting to know you better...

Bride Wellness 101

Bride Wellness 101

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Congratulations! You’re engaged! So now what? Planning a wedding, pinning wedding inspiration, excited about this happy time, and wanting to feel your best. So, you start reading more blogs to find ways to help you feel and look your best. Hopefully, that’s why you are here!

Instead of doing what so many brides do-choose extreme measures to drop the pounds-FAST! Some of those “quick fixes” may work a little but often they fail—miserably. That's because quick fixes, diet pills, and extreme exercise plans don't usually deliver, particularly in the long run. Wouldn't you rather make smart, reasonable and sustainable changes to your current diet and fitness plan to help prevent the "inevitable" weight gain? So instead of using the time leading up to your big day to sculpt yourself down to some magic number, take this time to become your healthiest you!

What matters most is taking care of yourself with nourishing food, a positive mindset, and movement.

First, commit to your plan. You just have to choose to stay in control, one day at a time, no matter what life and wedding planners may throw at you. 

The best bride diet is not a detox, cleanse, or any other restrictive plan that doesn’t teach you healthy living and eating, for life. The best bride diet is a lifestyle change that shifts your mindset: how you eat, how you move, and how you love the body that you’re in every single day.

Taking care of yourself can be simple: By taking care of yourself I don’t suggest massages or manicures/pedicures every week — even though, those are great. I’m talking about checking in with yourself daily and making sure you’re getting what you need to be your best, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Tips to Do Instead of Starting a Wedding Diet

1. Get your drink on!

No, not wine!  I’m taking about WATER. You know it's good for you, and it's easy to ease into. Research shows that sipping water before a meal helps fill you up and being well hydrated will prevent bloating and give you glowing skin.

How much should you aim to drink daily? I suggest at least 10- eight-ounce glasses a day. Increase that number up when you work out.

2. Focus on Foods That Nourish You

Our philosophy is about teaching you to honor your body by focusing on the best nutrient-dense food nature has to offer (recipes!) — and yes, that could be while you’re enjoying a glass of wine, pizza out with girlfriends, or whatever your thing is. There are hundreds of ways to feel nourished.

Whole foods — the basics like spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and citrus in the produce aisle — along with plant-based proteins and nuts and seeds offer amazing health benefits that your body needs every day.

3. Get Enough of those ZZZ’s

We know, easier said than done when you have wedding tasks on your mind all night. Try to start the habit of getting a good night's rest; for most, that means seven hours of shut eye.

Plus, here are some tips for making sure those seven hours of rest are restful:

• Try to wake up and go to bed at around the same time each day. It helps set your body's internal clock, so you sleep more soundly.

• Make sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet. If your partner's a snorer, wear earplugs.

• Get off screens—your smartphone, laptop, etc.—an hour before you hit the sack. The blue light they emit can suppress melatonin and stimulate your brain to stay awake.

• Skip the nightcap. Yes, alcohol might help you nod off faster, but as it wears off, it has a rebound effect that will disrupt your sleep so try to avoid it for several hours before bedtime.

Lack of sleep has been associated with weight gain and general obesity. It can also affect cognition, insulin sensitivity, thyroid hormones, and growth hormones. Poor sleep can also make us less likely to experience positive emotions, think: feeling awesome and may increase the likelihood of depression.

4. Chill and Stress Management

How do you combat the stress? Today, you should do something—anything—that you find relaxing. Drink chamomile or Kava tea or try some meditation. Planning a wedding can be so incredibly stressful and it's all about the future. Meditation is the perfect technique for bringing us right back to the moment, so we can enjoy it. You can practice anywhere with apps like Headspace and The Mindfulness App.

Relaxation looks different for each of us, but it’s something that you’re going to need to be able to tap into during this time in your life and really, for the rest of your life. Managing stress and relaxation is a key part of a balanced life because stress can ultimately decrease your health. When you’re stressed, you run the risk of getting run down with low immunity and you can even gain weight.

While there are things you can do to plan for stress and potentially eliminate it before it happens, there are certain situations and events that can be inevitable.

5. Remove processed foods from your diet

I understand that Oreos may very well be the most delicious things on earth, a increasing amount of evidence implies eating highly processed foods contain ingredients that cause inflammation in the body and encourage overindulging.

Processed foods are intentionally engineered to make you crave them! While some processed foods are obvious (such as...potato chips), there are lots of seemingly healthy options—like whole grain crackers or cereals, frozen dinners—that are still UBER processed. ALWAYS read food labels and keep away from anything with long ingredients or unpronounceable ingredients. Generally, if it comes in a bag or box and has a long shelf life, you don't want it.

Instead, shop the perimeter of the store, where the whole foods like fruits, veggies, lean meat and dairy live, and make sure the majority of your cart is filled with those good guys.

6. Make peace with the concept: snacks are not your enemy!

Many times, I see women wanting to lose weight for a grand affair and snacks are the first thing to go. If you skip it, your body will work against you: your blood sugar will tumble, and you'll overeat at dinner. Guaranteed.

Don't forget snacks. Especially if going more than four hours between meals. Plan your snacks. You don’t want to face a situation that'll leave you less satisfied afterwards than you were before. This will also prevent you from going overboard on all the wrong foods.

I suggest keeping snacks in the fridge and stashing nonperishable snacks in your bag, desk drawer, car, so wherever you are, you'll have something nutritious to eat. The ideal snack should be unprocessed as possible and contain a mix of protein and complex carbs to keep your energy up. Think: a fruit and a small handful of almonds, or half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread. Having snacks and balanced meals, will keep your body properly fueled that can help you keep hunger at bay. 

7. Fiber up!

Fiber is essential! It feeds good gut bacteria, essential for various health benefits. Certain fibers may also encourage weight loss, stabilize blood sugars and alleviate constipation.

A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that participants who were instructed to get at least 30 grams of fiber a day—but that was the only dietary change they made. Those participants lost nearly as much as a group of people who were put on a much more complex diet that required limiting calories, fat, sugar, and salt as well as increasing the fruit, veggie, and whole grain consumption.

I suggest for a daily goal of 30-35 grams of fiber a day. The average American gets about half the recommended amount of fiber each day. Try to get eight to 10 grams of it at breakfast. It's an easy meal to get it in because there are so many high fiber options, think: cereals, whole wheat bread, and oatmeal.

Caution: If your diet is currently fiber poor, add it in slowly. If you jump right to 35 grams a day you might feel gassy and bloated. So, for example, rather than going for a big bowl of steal cut oats tomorrow morning, I suggest mixing it half and half with whatever cereal you eat now. Try the same strategy at other meals and gradually up your fiber grams until you hit that magic 30 to 35 range.

Suggested high-fiber foods (per cup)

• Black beans, canned — 17 g

• Lentils, cooked — 16 g

• Garbanzo beans, canned— 13 g

• Edamame, shelled — 8 g

• Raspberries and blackberries — 8 g

• Apples — 4 g

• Carrots — 4 g

• Potato, with skin — 4 g

• Orange — 3 g

• Broccoli — 2 g

• Cauliflower — 2 g

8. Make Fitness a priority

Fitness is just as important. Don't forget about your workouts! Treat workouts like an appointment. You wouldn't miss your dress fitting. Add workouts to your calendar, this appointment is just as essential for bride wellness.

Contribute:

Have you been in the frenzy to lose weight before your wedding? What tips and tricks have you found that help keep you grounded and help you further your health goals? Leave a comment below — others in the NC Community may need to hear it! Connect with Nutrition Connections by tagging @nutrition_connections or #nutrition_connections

By: Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN

References:

1. Macfarlane S, Macfarlane GT. 2006 Sep 1;24(5):701-14. Review article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract.

2. Wanders AJ, van den Borne JJ, Obes Rev. 2011 Sep;12(9):724-39. Epub 2011 Jun 16. Effects of dietary fiber on subjective appetite, energy intake and body weight: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.

3. Silva FM1, Kramer CK, de Almeida JC. Nutr Rev. 2013 Dec;71(12):790-801. Epub 2013 Nov 1. Fiber intake and glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

4. Jing Yang, Hai-Peng Wang. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Dec 28; 18(48): 7378–7383.2012. Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: A meta analysis.

5. Barry M. Popkin, Kristen E. D’Anci, and Irwin H. Rosenberg. (Aug 2001). Water, Hydration, and Health.

6.    Yi, Nakagawa, Yamamoto, Mizoue, Takahashi, Noda and Matsushita. Short sleep duration in association with CT-scanned abdominal fat areas: the Hitachi Health Study.

7. Park SE, Kim HM, Kim DH, Kim J, Cha BS, Kim DJ. The association between sleep duration and general and abdominal obesity in Koreans: data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2001 and 2005.

8. Hairston, Bryer-Ash, Norris, Haffner, Bowden, Wagenknecht. Sleep duration and five-year abdominal fat accumulation in a minority cohort: the IRAS family study.

9. Knutson. Oct 2010. Sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk: a review of the epidemiologic evidence.

10. Choi, Kim MY, Kim JK, Park, Oh, Koh, Eom. Nov 2011. Association between short sleep duration and high incidence of metabolic syndrome in midlife women.

11. Reynolds, Dorrian, Liu, Van Dongen, Wittert, Harmer, Banks. July 2012. Impact of Five Nights of Sleep Restriction on Glucose Metabolism, Leptin, and Testosterone in Young Adults.

12. Caine-Bish, Potkanowics, Otterstetter, Marcinkiewicz, Kamimori, Glickman. 2005. The effect of cold exposure on the hormonal and metabolic responses to sleep deprivation.

13. Opstad, Falch, Oktedalen, Fonnum, Wergeland. June 1984. The thyroid function in young men during prolonged exercise and the effect of energy and sleep deprivation.

14. Sassin, Parker, Mace, Gotlin, Johnson, Rossman. 1969. Human growth hormone release; relation to slow-wave sleep and sleepwalking cycles.

15. Takahashi, Kipnis, Daughaday. Sept 1968. Growth hormone secretion during sleep.

16. Ford, Kamerow. Epidemiologic study of sleep disturbances and psychiatric disorders. An opportunity for prevention?

17. Schneiderman, N., Ironson, G., & Siegel, S. D. (2005). STRESS AND HEALTH: Psychological, Behavioral, and Biological Determinants.

18. Suzanne C. Segerstrom and Gregory E. Miller. (Feb 2006). Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry.



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