This week, we chat to nutritional therapist Angela Walker about choosing the right eating plan in the run up to your wedding...
What are the classic mistakes most people make that result in weight gain?
Missing meals. Yes, eating less calories than you use is necessary for weight loss, but if you do that by missing meals then it disrupts metabolism, encourages snacking on less healthy options and may cause vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Eating too many refined carbs (white pasta, bread and rice, pastries, cakes etc) is another. When we eat them, their sugar is released very quickly into the bloodstream. We get spikes and then dips in blood sugar, and during the dip we crave for more fast sugar. Longer term, this can encourage the body to store fat especially around the tummy, as well as increasing risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes. Low-fat diet foods are also a classic mistake. Manufacturers usually replace fat in low fat food with starch, which is just another form of sugar.
For desk-bound brides, what are ideal lunch suggestions?
Firstly, step away from your desk to eat, even if it's just to another part of the office. Anything to avoid that multi-tasking over lunch we are all so good at! It can really have a negative effect on our digestion. Cook extra food in the evening and bring it in for lunch, or if you have a fridge at work, stock up at the beginning of the week with salad ingredients. Then you can just chop up some vegetables, dress with lemon and oil, and serve with chicken, fish or hummus. Soup with veggies, beans and lentils are fairly easy to find in sandwich shops or supermarkets. If you do have to go for a sandwich, then make sure its wholegrain bread and contains as much fresh salad as possible!
What's the best thing to eat on the wedding morning to avoid bloating?
Try to avoid refined grains (such as pasta, white rice or bread) or anything high in fats, as these may be harder to digest. It's best to eat something substantial that will give you a steady release of energy through the day, like porridge made with oats, millet or quinoa. Poached eggs on rye bread with some steamed asparagus and tomatoes are delicious, nutritious and will keep you going. A smoothie is easy to prepare and may be easier to eat if you are feeling a bit nervous - one of my favourites at the moment is avocado, half a cup of almond milk, strawberries or blueberries, plus some pumpkin, sunflower and crushed linseeds - blend together and feel fabulous!
How does your clinic work?
My clinic is based in West London. In the initial consultation we discuss health goals, health history, current eating habits and lifestyle. I also do some in-office testing for digestive imbalance and nutrient deficiencies. During the session I develop a nutritional plan and any recommended supplements and give a variety of tools to help achieve this (meal plans, recipe ideas, shopping lists etc). I work really hard to make sure this is going to be something that will fit into the client's life and work for them. I recommend a follow-up consultation three to four weeks later, and encourage clients to keep in touch via phone or email.
If a bride can't get to London, can you recommend any good nutrition websites?
To find a qualified nutritionist in your area, try Nutri People (www.nutripeople.co.uk) or British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (www.bant.org.uk).
What are you easiest, most practical tricks towards a healthier diet?
Eating healthily is about nourishing your body with delicious food that will make you feel and look fabulous. So think about those benefits rather than the costs and remember you can still have treats, it's just about balance. Do a bit of simple planning: prepare double portions of healthy meals and keep in the fridge, and keep chopped raw veggies, nuts and seeds to snack on, that way when you get home from work you'll have something tasty and nutritious to reach for. Learn how to cook and enjoy beans, peas and lentils: they are versatile, healthy, cheap and tasty! Add them to stews, salads and roasted veggies. Eat at regular times and take your time to eat properly. Prepare the meal or snack, put it on a plate (even if it's just a snack), sit down, enjoy it, and don't do anything else while you are eating.