Natural Living

By Laura Peterson

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Perhaps the most important diet most women go on in their whole lives is the diet that ends with them slipping into a gorgeous white dress for their big day. Well, my dear Princesses, Beauty News has heard your cries for help and reached out to one of the best Holistic Nutritionists in the entire city for guidance.

Esther Blum is quite a dynamo. She has the sort of credentials that command respect (registered dietitian, certified dietitian-nutritionist, certified nutrition specialist and certified holistic nutritionist) paired with a warm, charismatic personality and understanding of holistic health. Who better to turn to for advice about the all-important Bridal Diet?
I spoke with Esther recently about Bridal Diets, and here’s what she had to say:

BN: Has weight loss become one of the biggest priorities for a woman the second the ring is slipped onto her finger?
Esther Blum: It really depends on the bride-to-be and her relationship with herself and her body. Some clients feel like they want to look their best, and for them that means looking healthy and radiant. Other babes feel like they want to shed a few pounds beforehand. Most of them just want to look toned and firm- especially if they’re wearing a strapless gown! That seems to be the biggest priority.

BN: Do you find some women turn to unhealthy measures to look thin for their wedding?
Esther Blum: Fortunately, I haven’t seen anything too drastic. Most women will skip meals here and there or cut down on their portion sizes on account of being too excited to eat, but overall I’ve never seen anything too crazy. Most brides kick their workouts up a notch to look extra-fine on their wedding day.

The biggest travesty I’ve been privy to is that brides often skip meals on their wedding day. That’s a recipe for dehydration, low blood sugar, and hypoglycemia. The last thing you want to do is pass out on your wedding day!

BN: What are some of the dangers in crash dieting?
Esther Blum: Skipping meals can wreak havoc on your adrenal glands, which are responsible for balancing your blood sugar. Stressing out your adrenals will cause your blood sugar to spike and dip during the day. When you skip meals, your adrenals also secrete cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Chronically high cortisol levels help your body break down muscle and store your food as fat, ultimately making you far more prone to weight gain. Crash dieting also makes you cranky and irritable and can lead to mood swings and dips in your energy throughout the day. It’s much harder to make decisions when you’re not getting sugar to your brain.

BN: What is a healthy time frame for a weight loss of 20 pounds or less? How about over 20 pounds?
Esther Blum: To ensure that you are losing body fat and not muscle mass, aim for a 1-2 pound weight loss each week. That means that you should allow yourself a minimum of 10 weeks to safely take off 20 pounds. Diet alone will help you lose the weight, but diet and exercise will ensure the weight stays off.

BN: How can brides-to-be stay realistic in their expectations? Is this the hardest part of your job, keeping clients patient and grounded in reality?
Esther Blum: I find it’s often most challenging to help clients learn to be insightful about not only what they’re eating, but what’s eating them. So often, we check out of the eating experience when we’re stressed out. We eat walking down the street, in front of the TV, or while reading. It’s a challenge to help clients re-learn eating behaviors and get them to be present in the eating experience. To do that, we have to listen to our inner hungers and figure out what foods we enjoy and stop eating when we’re full.

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BN: Please give our readers some general holistic nutritional advice for starting a wedding weight loss program.
Esther Blum:
* Make sure you keep a regular eating schedule. Don’t skip meals just because you’re busy. Eat every 3-4 hour hours to stabilize your blood sugar.
* Eat some protein at each meal to support your adrenal glands and ultimately your blood sugar.
* Work out 5 days a week and incorporate 1 day of yoga into your regime for stress management. Yoga helps lower cortisol levels and supports thyroid function, which can increase your metabolism.
* Skip the coffee and go for green tea; coffee makes you jittery and also raises cortisol levels and helps contribute to weight gain. Green tea has been scientifically proven to burn body fat while keep you cool, calm and collected.
* Limit your sugar intake to keep yourself lean and mean. Eating sugar while working out will make your workouts much less effective because it makes it much harder for your body to access body fat when you are eating sugar.

BN: How can proper weight and health be maintained after the wedding?
Esther Blum: It’s harder for clients to stay motivated once the honeymoon’s over. There’s less pressure and less incentive to look picture-perfect. After the wedding is over, try to be as consistent with your eating and exercise efforts as your endeavors before the wedding. Exercise is important for getting the weight off, but even more important for keeping it off. And stick to eating 3 meals and 2 snacks to keep your metabolism chirping at a faster pace.

BN: What is the difference between the conventional approach to nutrition and the holistic approach?
Esther Blum: Holistic nutrition is a philosophy and lifestyle that treats the whole person, rather than one specific health problem. A holistic approach takes into consideration the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of a person so that great healing can take place. This enables clients to learn to understand their body better and achieve greater balance in their energy levels and eating practices.
Conventional nutrition looks at the symptom or the direct relationship with nutrients and disease prevention, but does not typically address how a person interfaces with the environment.

BN: I heard you have a book coming out soon. Please tell our readers what they can look forward to.
Esther Blum: Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous (Chronicle Books, 2007) is a nutritionist’s guide to living well while living it up. This book is about creating a guiding force for women of all ages. The heart and soul of this book is not intended to be a diet book, but a book to live by. I hope it is the book that you pull out when you want to recharge your batteries and set yourself back on track. I hope it helps you decide what role eating well and taking supplements will play in your life. My goal more than anything else is to empower women to make the choices that fit into their lives as seamlessly as possible.

Widely respected as an industry expert, Esther has been a guest on VH-1, ABC-TV with Dr. Jay Adlersberg, FOX 5’s Good Day New York, the WB11 morning news, WOR-AM’s program “Health Talk”, Bloomberg Radio and eYada.com web radio. She is also an in-demand nutritional authority whose services are frequently called upon by national consumer publications, including Fitness, Bazaar, Self, Men’s Health, Let’s Live!, Health, and WeightWatchers.com.

As an author, Esther’s byline can be found in Healthology, Weight Watchers and Dance Spirit Magazine. She lectures widely on nutrition to physician and patient groups and has addressed a wide variety of audiences including the Steinhardt Center/Makor at the 92nd Street Y, Viacom, the NYU Bioethics Forum, the JCC, the 92nd Street Y, Beth Israel Medical Center, The Yale Club, Health South Physical Therapy, and her running team, The Reservoir Dogs.
You can contact Esther to schedule a consultation at 917.592.8946, or through her website at www.essentialnutrition.com

Originally published May 2006
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