To look stunning on their big day, most brides-to-be go on some kind of a weight loss diet or detox programme. However, few give any thought to how they will adjust to the change in their food habits and lifestyle after their wedding. I was no different. In spite of being a dietician, I had not planned for the inevitable changes that I was going to have to make after marriage. Reality hit me a month after the wedding when I stood on the weighing scale and discovered I had already put on 4kg. Thanks to the support and help of my husband and mother-in-law, I took stock of the situation and got back on track quickly. Here, I share with you tips and tricks that worked for me in the hope that they will help you too.
You’ve said “I do”. Now what?
The first few weeks after marriage are blissful, but it is also the time when the bride is adjusting from “her” way of living to “their” way of living and this is especially so if you are living with your in-laws. Whether you marry someone from the same community or from a different religion, there will always be differences in food culture as each household has different ways of cooking. For instance, in some families, fresh meals are cooked for breakfast, lunch and dinner, whereas in others, food is made once in the morning and relished all through the day. Likewise, in some families, eating leftover food is frowned upon whereas there are families who have no qualms about eating today’s food tomorrow or even the day after. While a new bride has to adjust to so many sudden changes, the issues get further compounded if you are a vegetarian/vegan and your husband/in-laws are not.
In our maternal homes, many of us have the luxury of eating food prepared by our mom or the family cook. But this changes if you are expected to shoulder the responsibility of cooking for the family. This is especially so in Indian families. And, should you be a working woman, you must juggle your home and work life, which often means that your own dietary needs take a back seat.
Failure to adjust to a new lifestyle leads to eating disorders in many women. While some of them become bulimic, others get anorexic because of not being able to adapt to the new way of preparing/consuming food.
Tips for the new bride
Here are few tips the new bride can follow to keep herself fit and happy.
- Share your likes and dislikes – Marriage is about making adjustments. But that doesn’t mean you need to force yourself to eat something you don’t like. Find a middle path such that both you and your partner [and your in-laws too] are happy. Tell your new family about your likes, dislikes, and other food-related restrictions such as allergies; also understand theirs.
- Include everyone – If you’re in charge of the kitchen, plan the weekly menu keeping in mind food choices of all family members. Try not to experiment too much in the early months; keep things simple.
- Don’t forget to exercise – After marriage, it is difficult to find time for yourself as most of your “me-time” becomes “we-time”. However, make it a point to exercise for at least 30 minutes everyday. Exercise heightens your energy, improves sex life and boosts your self-esteem. You could go for an early morning walk or do yoga in the privacy of your room or, if you have access, hit the gym for a quick workout.
- Don’t skip breakfast – If you are a working professional, make sure to eat a nutritious breakfast. You may have to work your way around this if your new family does not have a culture of eating breakfast. Go for easy-to-prepare recipes like a vegetable sandwich, oats omelette, a mix flour chilla, boiled egg whites, fruits or a smoothie. Have 200ml of soymilk twice a week, to get a dose of calcium and protein. Your healthy food choices may inspire other family members to join the health wagon too.
- Eat when hungry – In Indian homes, families usually eat together and the women of the house don’t eat before the men. But these are not rules written in stone. If your husband and in-laws eat at a time that is much later than what you’re used to, there is no need to sit through your hunger pangs in silence or worse, munch on chips and other junk food. Just eat when you are hungry or request them to shift their meal timings to an earlier time so you can all enjoy meals together as a family.
- Introduce them to foods you like – Marriage is not just about the wife learning her husband’s culture but also introducing him and his family to her own culture. Once in a while prepare and serve dishes that you’ve grown up eating. This will also give you a sense of comfort while you are adjusting to the new place.
- Get the cookware you need – If your new home kitchen is not equipped with the cookware that you are used to using, it’s time to go shopping. For instance, you may need a dosa tawa, a chopper, a pressure cooker, a toaster etc. to make cooking quick and enjoyable for you. It’s alright to indulge in these expenses, provided you will really use them well.
- Be mindful of social eating – After marriage, socialising naturally increases—those lunch and dinner invites from friends, family and relatives can add many extra [and needless] calories on your plate. Be mindful of how often you eat out and the quantity you eat. If it gets too much, skip desserts, deep fried items and other calorie-dense foods.
- Get enough shut eye – Newly married women tend to be sleep-deprived. But did you know that there is a definite connection between lack of sleep and weight gain? Try sleeping at a regular time every day and get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Striving to understand your new family and helping them to understand you is the recipe for health and happiness. In the end, it’s all about a little give and take.