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Lifestyle changes affect post-wedding weight
By Bethany Waldrop Keiper
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many newlyweds find themselves going from happy couple to heavy couple within the first few years of marriage.
Excess post-wedding pounds are as notorious as the freshman 15, and often more difficult to lose. Pre-wedding diets may have an effect on post-wedding weight in some cases, said Rebecca Kelly, human nutrition specialist and registered dietitian with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
"The bride may have dieted before the wedding to look her best, but this was just for that one event and not a lifestyle change," Kelly said. "After the wedding, she may go back to her normal eating habits and gain back some of the weight she lost. The same is true for the groom."
The groom's switch from a bachelor's lifestyle to a new routine also can help add pounds.
"The groom may be getting better, larger meals now, and may be eating a lot to please his new wife," Kelly said. "For first-time cooks, either male or female, portion control can be a big issue. Many recipes will make four or six servings, when a couple really only needs two."
Couples can scan cookbooks, ask friends or search the Internet for two-serving recipes, low-fat recipes and heart-healthy recipes.
"It's OK to make larger servings if you plan to save some for leftovers," Kelly said.
A dish that doesn't taste "just like Mama used to make" isn't necessarily a bad thing if it is more nutritious. There are flavorful ways to prepare meals without having foods suffocated in sauce, drowned in butter or smothered in cheese.
Kelly suggested choosing reduced-fat recipes or looking for ways to cut fat out of favorites. Use herbs and spices instead of fat-filled sauces or gravies, and keep portions under control.
"A man should know that he not only takes his wife's hand in marriage, he also should take her hand in portion control," Kelly said. "The average woman's palm is the size of 4ounces of cooked meat, poultry or fish; her thumb is about the size of 1 ounce of cheese or meat. Her thumb equals a tablespoon and her fingertip about a teaspoon."
Measure at first to learn what correct portion sizes look like in a bowl or plate. After a while, it is easy to serve the correct portion size without measuring.
Time management is a problem for most couples, and newlyweds are no exception, especially as they try to establish a routine. Many couples skip a trip to the kitchen entirely and eat out or grab a fast-food meal.
"Time is especially limited when both partners work, so there is an increased tendency to eat out. Both partners working also means there is more income for visiting a restaurant or going through a fast-food drive-through window," the dietitian said. "Many convenient products are loaded with fat and salt, but with careful choices, you can control calories while dining out."
For the best results, avoid all-you-can-eat buffets, choose clear soups and tomato sauces instead of creamy ones, order sauces and dressings on the side, and eat slowly, putting your utensil down between bites.
"Ask for water as soon as you sit down in a restaurant, and choose poached, steamed, broiled, boiled or grilled items," Kelly suggested. "If you can't resist eating most of the bread that comes before the meal, ask your server to bring it with the meal, and keep your portion control guidelines in mind."
When ordering fast foods, avoid deluxe, large or super sizes, and hold the mayonnaise, tarter sauce and salad dressing. Ask for low-fat dressings, or add ketchup and mustard.
"If you know you'll grab a hamburger for lunch, then have a high-fiber breakfast and a light dinner," Kelly said. "Don't go overboard with the whole meal -- have one higher fat item surrounded by lower-fat foods."
A lack of time can actually work in a couple's favor if they keep quick, healthy choices on hand.
"Don't keep junk food and high-fat convenience foods in the house -- they make overindulging too easy," she said. "Instead, keep fruit in the house and in sight. Wash and slice raw vegetables as soon as you bring them home from the market, so that they are ready to eat when you are."
Together, a couple can make healthy lifestyle choices a part of their new marriage.
"Make some changes in your diet choices and some changes in your exercise choices. Each one of these can work separately, but together they are a powerful tool," Kelly said. "For exercising, pick something you both enjoy, such as walking, dancing or cycling. Be sure not to let the exercising or dieting become competitive, or one or both of you may give it up."
For more information, contact: Dr. Rebecca Kelly, (662) 325-1801