Wedding gown fit

Concern about fitting into their gown drives many brides to crash diet in an effort to lose weight.

In addition, brides-to-be and grooms-to-be want to look their best on their wedding day, and many express concern about their weight in the weeks and months leading up to the wedding. Losing weight is a goal for many engaged couples, but it's important that couples who want to shed a few extra pounds don't sacrifice safety for the sake of slimming down.

According to a Cornell University study of 273 women with a wedding day approaching, 70 percent wanted to lose more than 20 pounds before the wedding. However, reality indicates that a weight loss of 5 to 10 pounds is more attainable – more so if the weight loss regimen is spread out over several weeks.

The term "brideorexia" has entered the vernacular, and it is associated with brides who are taking extreme measures to lose weight. Taking laxatives, engaging in fluid-only diets and even using tobacco or drugs as appetite suppressants are just some of the measures brides have taken to shed weight before their wedding day.

There is no magic formula to shed pounds, but there are certain ways to jump-start and maintain the process of healthy weight loss that can help you look slimmer and healthy for the big day.

* Eat. Although initial calorie curbing can help shed weight, eventually your body may adapt to your new eating habits or go into "survival mode," which means conserving fat reserves. Researchers at Penn State University found that fasting signals to the body that it is being starved, triggering a lower metabolic rate. Brides-to-be should never cut out food entirely. Eating anything less than 1,200 calories a day will encourage the body to try to conserve energy by lowering its metabolism. Severe calorie restriction is not an effective way to lose weight.

* Step up your exercise regimen. Reducing food intake alone will not help you lose weight quickly. For that you must burn more calories than you consume. Adding more cardiovascular activity to your routine can help burn calories more efficiently. According to a clinical study from researchers at Italy's University of Padua published in the 2011 International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, eating a light meal before exercising helps you burn more fat and keeps your body burning fat even 24 hours after the exercise.

* Reduce sodium intake. Sodium doesn't necessarily lead to weight gain, but it can make it appear so. Sodium contributes to water retention, which may make you appear heavier or bloated. Cut back on foods that are high in sodium, especially as the wedding nears, to reduce water retention.

* Identify sources of empty calories. Fruit juices, soda and other beverages are often the culprits in cases of unnecessary calorie consumption. Choose your beverages wisely and limit them to water, tea and unsweetened drinks. If you want to drink fruit juice, consider diluting it. In addition, most alcoholic beverages have 100 calories or more. While it may be tempting to celebrate with wine, champagne and mixed drinks during your engagement period, your waistline may ultimately pay the price for such indulgences.

* Hire a good photographer. It is said that a camera adds 10 pounds, a reason many couples panic about their wedding day. A photo is a two-dimensional image of a 3-D object. The photo reduces depth perception and flattens an image, which may make some items look like they have more bulk. A professional photographer will know how to manipulate lighting and camera angles for more flattering shots.

* Eat smaller portions. Often its not a matter of what you are eating but how much. Most portion sizes served in restaurants or even at home are double or triple the amount you should be eating. When in doubt, cut portions in half.

* Fill up on fiber or protein. Instead of resorting to pills to suppress an appetite, eat foods that will fill you up naturally. High-fiber foods will bulk up in the stomach and keep you feeling satiated longer. The same can be said for lean proteins, which take longer to digest, thus fending off hunger pangs.