Weddings content

Weddings content


So it’s finally happening. You’re getting married! After you’ve been overcome by all the congratulations, where to start? Wedding planning is a huge task and is not to be taken lightly or it threatens to become daunting, especially when you have no idea where to start and what needs to be prioritised if it’s all going to run smoothly. This is why we’ve prepared this guide. It covers everything you will need to know, from budgeting to those intricate last-minute details. We’ll guide you through dealing with vendors and tackling the fine detail. Our aim is to inspire and inform.


This guide is designed to help you prioritise the tasks that need planning and know which ones need to be organised earlier than some others. We recommend looking over the sections of this guide before you hone in on any individual tasks. We’ve included a useful checklist to help you plan the big event from beginning to end – however short or long it’s going to take!


To keep the wedding planning simple and stress-free here are the preliminary steps:

  1. Do your research and don’t rely on just one resource; there’s some inspiration to be found everywhere
  2. List those resources you find useful and which mirror your style
  3. Note any items you may need to hire as you go along – don’t leave it to the end!
  4. Set a realistic budget
  5. Ask for help if you think you need it – it’s what family and friends are for!


Determine which tasks are urgent and need to be booked in advance – like the venue and the celebrant – and separate out the tasks that can comfortably be left to complete closer to the Big Day.

This sample checklist is based on an engagement lasting 12 months. If yours is shorter or longer, you may find you need to adjust your priorities.

Let the Adventure Begin

10–12 Months to Go
  1. Start planning your wedding!
  2. Calculate your budget and establish the top priorities—where you can save/where you’d like to splurge.
  3. Get creative by browsing the sites and mags to identify the wedding style and colour palette for you.
  4. Compile a preliminary guest list (the numbers are key to other aspects of the planning – not least the venue and the budget!).
  5. Choose the wedding party—who are the key people you want with you at the altar – as well as the other half?
  6. Choose the venue(s) for both your ceremony and reception, and get the date reserved as soon as possible. It’s important to know what to ask when weighing up the pros and cons of a wedding venue.
  7. Consider wedding insurance. Does your chosen venue have liability Insurance and do you need a cancellation policy?
  8. When you have the date, tell everyone to save it! If you are planning a destination wedding or are designing your big day around a holiday, think about sending out save-the-date cards and emails.
  9. Create your own wedding website, and let everyone know about it.
  10. Choose the wedding attire – dress and suit, outfit and tux – and start to build the ideal accessories. If you need inspiration, attend a bridal fair or trunk show.
  11. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider hiring a Wedding Planner.
  12. Choose your Vendors. The team you are going to need will include the Caterer and a Photographer and/ or Videographer Officiant. Get all the details in writing!
  13. Start dreaming of your honeymoon.
6–9 Months to Go
  1. Continue your research. Carry on with interviewing and booking the vendors
  2. Decide on Floral Design arrangements.
  3. Do tastings of food and drinks, and choose a wedding cake, if necessary with a Cake Designer.
  4. Hire the DJ and/or other Entertainment for the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception.
  5. Organise your wedding invitations and discuss style and wording with a Stationer.
  6. Assemble a gift registry (and make sure this is updated on your wedding website!)
  7. Book your suite for the wedding night
  8. Arrange hotel rooms/accommodation, especially for any out-of-town guests.
  9. Shop for your bridesmaid and flower girl dresses and make sure your attendants have clear instructions on placing their orders.
  10. Book any associated transportation.
  11. Finalise bridal shower, bachelorette details and the guest list with whoever is hosting your party.
3–5 Months to Go
  1. Compile a guest list for your rehearsal dinner.
  2. Book the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner locations.
  3. If entertainment or other specialty details, like a groom’s cake, are included lock in these elements.
  4. Make any necessary childcare arrangements for guests’ kids.
  5. Reserve party rentals and linens.
  6. Order wedding favours for the guests.
  7. Choose and reserve the men’s formalwear.
  8. Finalize the Guestlist and ensure you have everyone’s mailing address.
  9. Confirm the invitation text and consider if any additional stationery may be required. These could include menu cards, place cards, thank-you cards and programs.
  10. Schedule the date to collect your invites.
  11. Finalize the ceremony’s readings and the vows.
  12. Sign off on the menu, beverage and other catering details.
  13. Have a trial for the bride’s Makeup and Hair trial and book the stylists.
  14. Choose and buy wedding rings.
  15. Finalize honeymoon plans and ensure all necessary documents are in hand and up to date.
6–8 Weeks to Go
  1. Mail the invitations!
  2. Plan how you are going to record RSVPs and meal choices.
  3. Contact all vendors to confirm dates, details and deposits.
  4. Research marriage license requirements and set name-change paperwork in motion
  5. Begin dress fittings – and don’t forget to wear appropriate undergarments.
  6. Break-in bridal shoes with some dance practice!
  7. Nudge the wedding party to ensure they’ve ordered all the attire.
  8. Write thank-you cards for any shower gifts and early wedding gifts.
3–5 Weeks to Go
  1. Send rehearsal dinner invitations.
  2. Finalize and confirm the readings and wedding vows with the Officiant.
  3. Sort out the shoot list with your Photographer and Videographer.
  4. Prepare the list of songs and music for the ceremony, the cocktail hour and the reception in discussion with the DJ or musicians.
  5. Order the timeline for the reception including who is giving each of the toasts.
  6. Finalize the accommodation for the wedding night and honeymoon.
  7. Get hold of the marriage license and complete all the appropriate name-change documents.
  8. Pick up the wedding rings!
  9. Gather together something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue?
  10. Buy last-minute items including toasting flutes, guest book, cake servers, and unity candle.
  11. Purchase the gifts you’ll be presenting to the wedding party members, and parents of the couple.
  12. Have a final dress fitting.
  13. Chase any guests who haven’t responded to your invitation.
1–2 Weeks to Go
  1. Give the caterer and the venue the final guest count.
  2. Plan the seating arrangement and create a seating chart and organise the place cards.
  3. Pick up The Dress.
  4. Finalize the wedding timeline and confirm arrival times with vendors and the wedding party.
  5. Put together a Bridal Emergency Kit.
  6. Check the weather report, and if necessary contact the venue to see what contingency plans are in place.
  7. Start the honeymoon packing.
  8. Last-minute facials and massages should take place now.
The Day Before
  1. Check all wedding-day items are packed or laid out and ready!
  2. Don’t forget rings and marriage license!
  3. Sort tips and final payments for your vendors and give them to the Best Man.
  4. Assign whoever to pack your gifts and belongings after the reception.
  5. Arrange the return of the groom’s outfit and any other rental items after the wedding.
  6. Have a manicure and pedicure.
  7. Attend the rehearsal and dinner.
  8. Give out any gifts to the wedding party.
  9. Go to bed early.
 On The Big Day
  1. Give yourself lots of time to get ready.
  2. Greet everyone, thanking them for coming.
  3. Take a moment to appreciate your new spouse and enjoy the day you spent so long planning!
After the Honeymoon
  1. Prepare to get back to reality.
  2. Send thank-you cards.
  3. Complete the registry process
  4. Exchange any unwanted gifts.
  5. Have the wedding dress cleaned and preserved.
  6. Contact the Photographer and Videographer about albums and DVDs.
  7. Embark on wedded bliss.


Weddings can turn out to be very expensive.

So, before jumping headlong into the planning for your Big Day – committing to venues and vendors for example – it’s advisable to decide the size of your budget. What can you afford? And who will pay for what?


In the past, the tradition has been for the bride’s parents to foot the bill for most of a wedding’s costs. But today, more and more couples are choosing to pay themselves or to share the cost with both sets of parents – those of the bride and the groom.

There are also some effective and simple things you can do to help trim costs from the wedding without needing to overly compromise on the style of the day about which you’ve no doubt been dreaming.


When it comes to weddings, Saturdays are the most expensive days because they are the most sought after, Expect costs to rise for every aspect from venues, through wedding planners, to photographers, transport and even makeup and hair appointments.

It’s so much cheaper to have your wedding during the week. Even opting for a Sunday can seriously slim down the costs. With enough notice guests are invariably happy to take time off to be at your Big Day.


Before you consider buying anything new for your wedding, consider all those weddings you’ve attended and who may have items you could reuse. There could be a family ring to pass down, a veil, suitcases, or a great vintage car someone owns that could be your wedding transport.


Before you book a vendor, think about how your friends and family may be able to lend a hand. Friends can help make decorations or assist by designing the invitations.

Big-ticket items like entertainment or photography could be delivered at a discount if you use your friends and contacts.


Before you book any vendors, ask friends and family who they could recommend. Many vendors have partnerships or work closely with others they can recommend too.

Booking both a venue and using their preferred vendors as a package price can often save money.


Get a range of quotes for the same thing to get an idea of who is offering the best deals and prices.


The earlier you decide the items you want, the better chance you will have of buying them on the sales. Waiting to buy items on sale not only saves you money, but it will give you time to make decisions and choose gifts and accessories.


There are so many things that can be done yourself for your wedding. Look around for the websites that enable you to create your own invitations. And hunt out the blogs that detail DIY activities to help you make your decorations and wedding favours.

These include:
·         The marriage license
·         Beauty treatments including hair and makeup, manicures, pedicures, tanning.
·         Hen party – bridesmaids should cover the bride’s cost but if a weekend getaway is planned you may need to stump up for your own airfare and accommodation.
·         Place cards, menus, and programs etc.
·         Postage costs.
·         Hotel room for the night prior to the wedding
·         Big Day food to stop you and the bridesmaids going hungry.
·         Lingerie.
·         Party dresses – for the hen night, rehearsal dinner and day-after brunch.
·         Welcome packs for any out-of-town guests.
·         Wedding favours and presents for parents and helpers.
·         Meals for all including the wedding couple and possibly key vendors.
Remember a buffer of cash for unexpected items like last-minute decorations and when the wedding runs on overtime and you need to cover the extra cost of vendors.


When the excitement of the engagement eases and all your family and friends have been notified, it’s time to plan a party. It’s not necessary but having a party is a fun way to celebrate as well as an opportunity for introducing families and friends to each other before the Big Day.


It’s common courtesy to contact your close family and best friends before blasting the announcement to all and sundry on social media.

To surprise your close family and best friends, you could share the news with them by throwing a small, spontaneous party


It’s an important rule to only invite people to any engagement bash if they’ll be invited to the big event as well.

This is an ideal opportunity to consider how large you want the eventual wedding to be, and use the engagement party as a testbed.


It is a tradition for the bride’s parents to host the engagement party, but these lines are much more blurred today. It’s a good idea to discuss how you want to celebrate if at all with close family and good friends.

If the bride and groom come from far apart it may be beneficial to have two parties.


As engagement parties kick start the eventual wedding celebrations, it’s sensible for the tone to be set at this stage for both the style and the theme.

If the plan is to have a low-key wedding, for example, throwing a sparkling and glamorous cocktail party for the engagement may be a tad confusing.


It is not typically for couples to specify gifts to receive to mark their engagement.

·         Select the host and venue
·         Decide the date
·         Build a guest list
·         Send invitations
·         Plan decorations
·         Chose the menu and drinks
·         Prepare activities to break the ice for friends and families
·         Choose the outfits


What sort of wedding do you fancy? A destination event? One that’s closer to home? Will it be in a church? Would you prefer an informal gathering in your own backyard?

Wherever you opt to have your wedding, you need to secure the venue and the time of year as early as possible.

When it comes to the time of year when will you choose: a summer evening wedding or a cosy winter’s day?

What you need to consider are the dress, the food, the flowers, the photos and the time of day. These will all change depending on the season you select.


The venue you select depends on the size of the wedding you are planning. If it’s an intimate gathering numbering around 50 guests, it would not be wise to look for places able to cater for

The guest list does not have to be set in stone. But it should give you an idea of the
guest numbers you’d like.

If you’re struggling to determine numbers, choosing a smaller venue would be a good way of limiting your options for a guest list.

It’s common for the venue to ask you to book a specific time. Before setting this in stone take into consideration the season and the actual timing of the day. It is bound to affect your photos and your guests’ travel arrangements.

The best time for photos tends to be an hour or two before sunset. It’s not surprising that it’s called The Golden Hour.

Morning ceremonies are a good idea as you can add brunch or a lunchtime reception, which can both save money and give more time for your Big Day!

When booking the venue ask about vendors. Many venues have preferred vendors that have to be engaged.

Many venues offer in-house catering services. Make sure these can cater for your preferred options and any dietary requirements.

It could well be possible to bring in an external catering company.

Many don’t bother with a wedding planner and don’t want the extra cost. However, wedding planners can save time, stress, and sometimes money.

Those couples that have a clear vision of what they want, could be organised enough to make their dreams come true. But there are others who may know what they want, but
have no idea about making it happen. A wedding planner can help.

Even the most organised couples really don’t want to be running around finishing last minute touches either the night before, or, God forbid, even on the day of the wedding.

This is why the majority of wedding planners offer a DOP service, which takes over the
controls from the bride and her family in the week before the wedding.

The Day-Of-Planner takes care of:
•             Confirming all the bookings and vendor payments
•             Organising or helping organise the venue being set up the night before, including confirming matters like catering numbers and place settings
•             Confirming  times and locations for delivers including the cake and the flowers along with just about everything else
•             Ensuring all vendors are where they should be at the correct time
•             Helping organise guests for the ceremony, the photos, and the reception
•             Dealing with any disasters and hiccups.

Who do you want at the alter? Perhaps you don’t want any bridesmaids or groomsmen; or can you think of nothing more fulfilling than a long line of close friends?

•             Host a ‘bridesmaids’ high tea’
•             Slip a handwritten note into their handbags explaining your desire to have their company on the Big Day
•             Give your chosen maids rings or bracelets for wearing on the Big Day
•             Send them customised alcohol bottles or beer glasses or just a personal message
•             Plan an event to ask your best man the question
•             Give them a bowtie and or colourful socks to wear on the Big Day.

Choose friends who are organised and will take the initiative to release pressure on you.

The hardest part of planning a wedding for a lot of couples is the guest list.

Some may have a shortlist of closest friends, but your parents, the new in-laws and even extended family members are bound to have more to add to your list.

The simplest way to get a handle on your guest list is by prioritising.
People you only know through friends can be written off. If in doubt, leave people out. If there are any that would be awkward not to invite, it’s probably wise to include them.

  • How many does the venue accommodate? This will likely dictate numbers
  • What are the seating arrangements?
  • Do you want your friends’ children?
  • Spouses-to-be have absolute power of veto over exes
  • Whoever is paying for the wedding should have at least have some say on invites


When the time comes to save the date there are many different ways this can be done.

When designing and posting invites consider:

  • The theme of your Big Day so your invites become a sneak preview into what guests can look forward to
  • Saving time and money by sending out your save-the-date cards with the engagement party invites by email and together

You can save cost on postage, paper, time  and be environmentally friendly by emailing your invites to your friends and family


There are numerous routes to sourcing the perfect stationery. You can seek out talented designers who can create the themed and custom stationery sets you require within your budget.

You could ask friends you believe have the ability to create what you want and of course, you could do it all yourself

There are many websites that enable you to select a design and input the appropriate details.  Some of these also offer printing services, and others make it possible to save a PDF and have your nearest printing store put the invites on craft card.


There are a few people more important than the person chosen to officiate the ceremony, so researching and choosing someone with shared ideas and an understanding of who the couple is and how they want the Big Day to go is important. It could be a civil celebrant or a priest.

When making a selection some questions that are worth asking include

  • What does marriage mean to them?
  • What qualifications do they have?
  • How do they plan to run the ceremony?
  • Does their personality, confidence and attitude match up with what you are wanting?


The key is to select a photographer and videographer who understands and can deliver your vision for the Big Day.

The photographer will be with you for the whole day, so the importance of feeling comfortable with them can’t be overstated.

Remember the pictures taken will be your memories for many years to come.

To find the right photographic and video graphic support look at the bridal blogs and magazines and ask friends for recommendations.


When you choose your vendors, discuss what images you want to remember your Big Day

Are there any special locations you’d like captured in the photos?

What sort of coverage will you want on the day? Getting ready shots? The farewells? Or do you want just the ceremony and some newlywed photos?

Photographers are professionals,  so ask them for some ideas!


  • What style do you shoot?
  • Do you set up photos or capture them as they naturally unfold?
  • Could you do an engagement shoot or a shoot of the couple before the Big Day?
  • Do you charge a flat rate or have different packages?
  • Can you show your portfolio?


You can set the mood you want for your wedding with your choice of entertainment. You can make it relaxed with soft acoustic music in the background, or you can ramp it up to a big, happy occasion with a live rock band. If you want a bit of both, the world is your oyster.


  • The venue
  • The size of the wedding
  • The mood
  • How you want it to vary from ceremony to reception
  • Budget

Many couples choose live music and opt for string quartets or acoustic duets for the ceremony, and then a funky DJ or an eclectic playlist for the reception.

Alternatively, you could choose to have particular songs played with a recording at your ceremony and then have a full live band at the reception.




  1. The Prelude, which is played as your guests take their seats before the ceremony
  2. The Procession, which is played when the bride and her bridesmaids come in. You can select one piece of music for the bridesmaids with a pause before another piece for the bride’s entrance
  3. The Ceremony, where there may be a string quartet, a choir or a soloist to play at selected points of the nuptials
  4. The Recession, which is joyful music played at the end of the ceremony
  5. The Postlude, which is invariably upbeat music that plays as the guests all leave the ceremony after the newlyweds.


  • The style of ceremony you want – religious, outdoors, formal
  • The setting of your ceremony
  • How many songs you need to cover the ceremony – this will include the number of guests to be seated, how long the ceremony will last, any special cultural inclusions
  • Will you have a main instrument for your ceremony music?
  • Run through your music run a few weeks or a month before the ceremony to give yourselves  time to add or remove any songs as needed


  • Talk to one another about what makes a song meaningful to you – is it the lyrics, or association with a memory that makes a song important to you?
  • Give yourselves plenty of time to choose music – about 6 months is a good place to start, giving you time to revisit the playlist before your Big Day
  • Begin with your existing music collection – a perfect song is a very personal decision
  • Break up the playlist into the different sections of the day to make it a little less daunting – ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, dancing   If you’re feeling totally trumped for where to start, this helpful article on Beaucoup gives some good  examples of songs for traditional, most popular and modern song choices


The food and drink you serve at your weddings will be determined in the main by the venue you choose, the wedding’s style and any particular cultural traditions associated with the families of the bride and groom.

It’s likely when choosing your wedding venue the menus on offer will sway your choice.

When you select a venue offering catering, not only study their menu options but arrange to have a tasting of each menu that appeals. If instead, you opt for an external catering company, consider what is important to you in a vendor:

  • Quality of food
  • Origin of produce
  • Range of menu selections
  • Dietary considerations
  • Choosing a local business or bringing them in from interstate
  • Your budget
  • Recommendations from friends or family
  • What will happen to any leftover food?

HOT TIP!   Before doing a generic Google search for wedding catering, think about the food you want – do you want Mexican street food, a BBQ, a cold buffet, or a gourmet vegan feast?


One of the biggest expenses at a wedding can be alcohol

Many venues include an alcohol  package with their catering, offering a choice of wine, beer and even spirits

When engaging an  external catering company, you can often have the alcohol included or opt to supply your own

It really  is a matter of taste and style

If your reception is at a winery, you’re most likely limited to their wines,  but you get the venue, catering and servers all included

If your wedding is at a private venue, you can  choose to purchase as much or as little of each tipple you like, however, you may need to organise  cool boxes, ice and a drinks area yourselves


  • Don’t have servers – let your guests serve themselves
  • Opt for simple over fancy when it comes to starters and appetisers
  • Supply your own alcohol to avoid overhead prices a venue charges
  • Serve only wine and beer – skip the spirits
  • Serve non-alcoholic beverages
  • Serve one signature cocktail – gin and tonic, whisky and lime, or your favourite drink to have with your better half
  • Have a family-style meal where dishes are brought to the table and passed around to share •   Or don’t have a sit-down dinner at all – instead have tapas-style appetisers throughout the  evening
  • Serve smaller slices – instead of an extravagant 5 tiered cake, have a smaller cake, cupcakes as a cake, or a sweets bar for dessert – your guests will be none the wiser
  • Have a daytime wedding – brunch and lunchtime meals are often significantly cheaper than evening meals   For some more tips to save money on your wedding meal, take a look at this Money Crashers guide


For the majority, if not all, brides, The Dress is a fundamental aspect of the Big Day.

HOT TIP!    Buy the dress size that fits now, not the size you want to be on your  Big Day

Whatever type of wedding you are going to have and whatever style of bride you are, and whether you are planning to wear an extravagant gown or your mum’s recycled wedding dress, there are some things you need to consider:

  • Dresses are much easier, and cheaper to take in than to let out!
  • Book an early appointment: Try to get the first appointment of the day and only visit two boutiques in a day. The sales assistants will be fresh and focused and you won’t be overwhelmed from seeing too many dresses.
  • Keep in mind that a wedding dress can take between six and eight months to make and up to two months to alter.


If you can, take a photo of a dress when you try it on. Mirrors are designed to sell dresses, photos don’t lie

Unfortunately, most bridal boutiques don’t allow you to take photos of dresses you try on –  only the one you purchase

If this is the case take a notebook and get your bridesmaid or mum to  write notes describing each so you can remember them later

Don’t go with a trend

Your wedding dress will be present in your wedding photos for a lifetime, so think about whether you’d be happy to wear the same dress in 10 years time.


Dresses look different on hangers to on a body – so even if you don’t think it looks fantastic on the  hanger, try on a few different dresses

You never know the one that looked unimpressive on the rack  might transform into the one when you slip it on

Wedding dress sizes aren’t always the same as high street clothing  sizes

Some designers sizes are tiny, others large. Don’t focus on the size of the dress, focus on the fit.

Again, don’t buy a smaller size  because you plan to lose weight, buy the one that fits now


Don’t bring too many people along when you go dress shopping – it can make it more stressful than it  needs to be

Choose a couple of friends, mum or your sister whose judgement you can trust and who  know your taste well

WEAR YOUR BEST LINGERIE   Before you go dress shopping, head to a department store or lingerie store and have a proper bra  fitting

When trying on dresses, you’ll spend a fair amount of time in your underwear.

So wearing a  nice underwear set will make you feel beautiful, putting you in the right mindset to try on dresses


As you probably already know, there are certain dress shapes that do and don’t suit your body type.

Finding a dress that fits your body shape will not only make you look a million dollars, chances are it’ll  be more comfortable so you’ll also feel like a princess


You want your dress to look spectacular, but even more importantly, you want to be able to move in it. Your wedding dress needs to be comfortable enough for you to take part in any activities you have planned on the Big Day.

If you can’t eat or dance, let alone sit in it, is it really your dream gown?

When considering the budget for your dress, don’t forget to include any accessories (veil, headpiece etc.),  alterations, steaming and even shoes to be included in this total.


If you have a special necklace or earrings that you know you want to wear, be sure to take these along to your dress fittings – to make sure they match the dress you choose.


Prior to paying your deposit, ensure all of the details are correct and in writing. Double-check the designer, manufacturer, style number, colour and size.

Also, double-check the estimated time the dress will take to make, and an approximate cost for any alterations.


Once your dress has been made you’ll need a couple of fittings to ensure it fits like a glove.  The first fitting is usually about two months before your Big Day.

Make sure you wear your undergarments and perhaps do your hair similar to how you will have it on the day.

This fitting exists to  make sure you can move freely (lift your arms, sit down) and to plan any alterations if necessary

The final fitting, usually a week or two out, is when you should take one of your bridesmaids, your mother,  or someone who will be helping you into your dress on the Big Day, so they can learn how to tie it up.

Many brides find the idea of spending money on a dress you’ll wear once a little daunting

There are many websites dedicated to wedding gown hire and second-hand dresses.


Just as your photos will be the lasting memories of your day, your engagement and wedding ring will  be with you for the rest of your life

Some couples choose matching wedding bands, while others like  to make each other’s ring themselves for a more personal touch

But the world of engagement and  wedding rings can be a complicated place


It’s important to understand what the jeweller is talking about when he runs you through a princess or cushion cut ring, whoever is choosing the ring – your beau or you as a couple.


How your wedding and engagement ring fit together is important, seeing you’ll be wearing them  together

This will also depend on the size and shape of your engagement ring

Some engagement and wedding rings can be bought as a set and as a result fit together perfectly.

Others, you will need to try a  couple of different style wedding bands to find the one that fits with your engagement ring best


  • Add a personal touch by making your own or each other’s rings
  • What material do you wear most? Silver, white gold, rose gold or yellow gold – select the one  that matches most of your existing jewellery
  • Ensure to choose a ring that matches your lifestyle – if you’re not comfortable walking around with a $16k ring on your finger then don’t choose that one
  • Can you wear your wedding ring at work? Would different styles be more suitable?
  • Will you wear your rings all day, every day?


You don’t have to have a wedding register. It used to be used to kit out a couple’s new home but these days couples might have been living together a while and have all they need.

Alternatives include having a wishing well, asking guests for money rather than gifts. If this would be your choice then:

  • Tell the guests how you would use the cash to give them an incentive
  • Explain it by telling the guests on a card what are your wishes.


  • It makes it easier on the guests because they know exactly what you require
  • It makes it easier on you because you get what you need

HOT TIP!        If you don’t need or want anything, you can register with a charity and ask your guests to donate on your behalf


When choosing the perfect bridal bouquet there are many things considerations – the dress, the venue, the decorations, the groom’s outfit.

Luckily, florists are professionals who do this every day and usually have an excellent eye for selecting  a bunch that perfectly suits you


THE DRESS   Make sure you’ve picked your dress before your bouquet

Take a picture of your dress to show the  florist so they can design a bouquet that fits in

The bouquet shouldn’t clash with the dress shape,  frame or colour

The most important thing is that your bouquet works with your dress


Always choose flowers that are in season

This ensures you’ll have fresh, vibrant flowers, and you’ll  likely save money as there is an abundance available


It’s important to consider that the size and shape of your bouquet suits your body shape and size

As  a rule of thumb, make sure your bouquet is at least an inch narrower than your hips

If it’s too small it  will make your hips look bigger, but if too large, it will drown you out

Also, consider the height of your  husband – if he’s shorter or the same height as you, ensure your bouquet doesn’t elongate you in  any way


When choosing the size and shape of your bouquet, make sure you’ll be comfortable – you will be  carrying it around all day after all

Make sure it’s fairly easy to hold and isn’t too heavy

Talk to your florist about using flowers to decorate your venues, accents for the groomsmen and any other special guests like the mothers of the bride and groom

Often if you choose a package deal your florist can give you a better price.


When the venue’s been booked, and your dress and bouquet design have been chosen, it’s time to think about the decorations.

Whether you choose to do the decorations yourself or engage a vendor, developing a vision for your setting is key.

If your ceremony and reception are to be at different locations or all in the same place, it will influence your decorating style.   Opting for one location over two, not only eliminates travel time and a lot of expense but also it may need you to consider using decorations that separate the ceremony and reception areas.

Consider colours, lighting and strategic pieces of furniture to set the two scenes apart.

Selecting the venue will, of course, have a big influence over your style of decorating.

If the venue is established, with its own distinct charm, you may not need to do that much to bring it alive for your Big Day.

However, if your wedding is going to be an outdoor on, for example in a marquee, you will have great scope to bring your wedding vision to life.

To have the best of both worlds think about opting for a marquee.

To make the most of being outdoors while remaining protected from the elements you can select a full or partial clear ceiling and walls.

Remember you are able to bring space to life with decorations like ceiling drapes, fairy lights and even coloured accents.


The seating plan is an important consideration. You need to think about who knows whom, and who may get along together.

Also, make sure you will have the room to move around and greet everyone at your wedding. As the newly married couple, people will expect you to at least say hello to them.

Bear in mind elderly guests and young children

Elderly guests are best seated close to the door so it’s easy for them to get in and out. Try to position children where there’s extra space for them to play if necessary. Consider adding a small activities box to keep young people happy.



Where you decide to have your ceremony and reception determines the transport arrangements that will be required.

If the wedding ceremony and reception areas are in the centre of the city, you only need to think about the bridal party’s cars. A country wedding will need more planning.

It’s not always the responsibility of the bride and groom to organise transport for everyone but with a country wedding, a number of couples organise a bus from some central rendezvous place and time to bring guests to the wedding location and take them back again later.

Check with local bus hire companies and ask around for recommendations.

Having the ceremony and reception in the one location saves on transport costs, makes logistics easier and reduces the time required to travel between the two events.


  • How far is the wedding from the nearest town?
  • Do the majority of guests live locally, or will they be travelling to the wedding?
  • The distance between the ceremony and the reception?
  • How will the bridal party get around?


The time the wedding should start depends on different factors: time of year, budget, and the style of the celebration.

But there are a few things you might not have considered including:


To determine how much time each associated activity is likely to take have a chat with your vendors, like the hair and makeup artists, the photographer, your celebrant and wedding planner. As professionals who have done weddings many times before they will have a good idea of how long things take.


If driving from where the photos are being taken to the reception takes time, build in this to the daytime plan. You don’t want to be late at your reception!


As these photos will be your memories for many years to come, think about how you want them to look. Talk to the photographer about the style you’re after and the best time to capture them.

Remember to send the day’s timeline to the vendors, so everyone is able to plan.


The rehearsal dinner’s purpose is to provide an opportunity to run through the wedding before it happens. It’s also a chance for everyone in the bridal party to meet each other if they don’t already.

The bride and groom can also to thank the people who have helped them plan the wedding.

Traditionally, this dinner is a formal, sit-down dinner and is typically paid for by the groom’s parents.

Today, however, a lot of couples split the cost with the parents or pay it entirely themselves.


If you choose to have a rehearsal the day before the Big Day, it can be a quick 10-minute affair before the bride, her bridesmaids and the groomsmen go off to enjoy time together.

If you opt not to have any rehearsal, you don’t need to do anything at all. An alternative is to have a casual dinner or some kind of party the evening before the wedding with close family and friends to make the most of the wedding celebrations and to be able to spend time with your guests who might have travelled a long way.

It enables you to spend some quality time with the people you want to thank for helping you bring your wedding plan to life.

Whether or not you have a rehearsal, the couple should do a quick run-through of the ceremony a couple of weeks before the big day! It will give you the chance to ensure the music fits, and throw up any questions you may have for the celebrant.


Do you have a cake or do you not have a cake? The tradition of cutting the wedding cake has been a staple of weddings for many centuries. It began in Roman times when a groom would break the cake over his bride’s head to bring good luck.

These days, the couple tends to cut through to the bottom of the cake as a symbol of the ongoing nature of their relationship

Despite all this the history and tradition, some couples opt not to have a cake at all. Modern alternatives have included desserts or the drinking of a signature dessert cocktail.

When you start looking for a cake bear in mind that if a bakery’s photos are out of date, their cakes probably are too.

Ask friends and family for any cake bakery recommendations. You may find some excellent bakers locally.

When choosing the taste, bear in mind that simple flavours like chocolate and vanilla can taste very different from one baker to the next. Always do a taste test!

Then when you meet your cake designer, take along photos of your dress and any theme ideas you already have so they can come up with a design that suits.

When it comes to, topping off this confection, there are many modern trends to compete with the age-old marzipan couple on top of the cake.

Some people choose cupcakes over a traditional tiered cake, a sweets bar and many other interesting cake toppers.


     The most important person on the Big Day, aside from the bride, is, of course, the groom.

You spend months looking for the perfect dress, so why not spend as much time focused on what the groom is going to wear? If the wedding is to have a vintage theme, make sure he is dressed in a smart, well-cut suit with a bowtie that matches.

If you’re having a beach wedding theme and the bride is wearing sandals, don’t make the groom wear black lace-ups!


  • Match the style of the wedding theme
  • Buying is better than renting because a badly fitting suit is not a good look. Have the groom properly measured whatever he’s wearing
  • Have the suit tailored to fit. It should last a lifetime
  • Stay true to his style
  • Add stylish cuff links

The next most important people are the bridesmaids and the groomsmen.

When searching for inspiration and styling your groom, make sure you consider how his groomsmen will look. Dress them the same as the groom, or add a slight variation with different ties, shirts or vests.  And consider the groomsmen’s outfits when you turn to search for the ideal bridesmaids’ dresses. They are going to be at the same event!


  • Decide the look you’re going for before you go shopping, or it can become overwhelming
  • Begin shopping early to make the most of sales
  • Share the budget with the bridesmaids so they are on the same page
  • Start the search with your maid of honour and mother only before bringing the whole party along to try any chosen dresses
  • Take skin tones of the bridesmaids into consideration when selecting colours
  • Be flexible by allowing the bridesmaids to have an input into the styles that suit them, but it’s your day, so you always have the final say
  • Remember your undergarments! Wearing a white dress, especially strapless or open-backed, means you can’t just pull on any old underwear. Make sure to have a proper bra fitting at a department store and purchase comfortable underwear.


Wedding makeup should be in keeping with how you normally look, only better

Some brides believe they should wear a huge amount of makeup on their Big Day, even if they wear minimal makeup usually

The danger is you may end up looking too different, rather than just an enhanced version

Whoever does your makeup remember to stay true to your personal style


  • If a lot of makeup day-to-day is not your style, don’t change just for your Big Day
  • Bridal makeup needs to use enough colour to compensate for the whiteness of the Dress
  • Your makeup should fit in with your flowers – especially if you’ve chosen a bright  bouquet with big colours
  • Having a practice run to make sure whoever is doing the makeup knows how to get the look you’re after
  • Focussing on either your eyes or your mouth – not both
  • Being wary of fake tan – you don’t want to look orange rather than golden brown


In all of the excitement of a wedding, be sure not to forget the legal side of the ceremony.

If  you’re getting married in Australia, the priest or celebrant can help arrange the paperwork for you to  sign on the day of your ceremony

If you’re getting married abroad, be sure to know what exactly you  need to do in order to make the ceremony official and recognised in Australia

In Australia, a marriage falls under state and territory legislation, so you will need to look at each state’s  individual rules and requirements

If tying the knot overseas, be sure to take a look at the Australian government information on what is  required, as marrying in different countries may require different paperwork and authorisation


The Wedding vows you say are what make the marriage official

The ones you say to each other when you tie the knot could be chosen from a traditional verse,  a religious script, or they may be words you have written yourselves.

The type of ceremony you choose to have (religious or not) will play a big part in the vows you say

Be sure to talk to your celebrant about the vows and your options for making them unique to you (see section 9 for more on the celebrant)


  • Decide together if it’s really what you want to do or not
  • Discuss it with your celebrant – they may have some resources to help you find the right words  for you
  • Set a date to have them written by – you don’t need the stress of writing them the night before the wedding!  •                Stick to a structure – whether you’re going to show each other your vows before the wedding  or not, it’s best to keep them in a similar format
  • Do your research – look at traditional religious vows from different faiths, and read poems and  books to find something that suits you
  • Remember that your vows don’t need to be complicated, they just need to show what you  mean to each other


Do you have a favourite poem you’d like to be read at your wedding? Or perhaps a friend you’d love to have spoken? Wedding speeches aren’t just about the father of the bride and the best man’s speech

In  both religious and civil ceremonies today, couples are increasingly including meaningful readings and  speeches from their loved ones


  • Will you have an MC? If so, who?
  • Who you might like to do a reading or make a speech, and why
  • Any important, meaningful readings you’d like included
  • Perhaps you’d like your siblings or good friends to give some advice on marriage
  • Do you want specifically religious or non-religious readings?     In the search for wedding readings, it is easy to get lost in the similarity of the most popular chosen  readings

If traditional isn’t necessarily your style, try starting your search with this Buzzfeed article of  unique wedding readings from books


When planning a wedding, there seem to be an endless list of things to organise, do and purchase

One of the final, but not unimportant things to think about are gifts.

There are a few people that you  should send a thank you gift to, as well as those wedding favours


  • A gift from the groom to his bride on the morning of the wedding. This is usually accompanied  by a note, champagne, flowers or a simple piece of jewellery
  • A gift to the groom from his bride to be – this could be anything from unique cufflinks to a box  with 10 notes of why you love him inside
  • Gifts to the bridesmaids and groomsmen to say thankyou
  • Small gifts to show appreciation of anyone who has helped make the wedding happen
  • Wedding favours


By now you’re probably well aware that planning a wedding can be stressful

The last thing you want  to be doing is organising payments to vendors and chasing up confirmations or details


  • Send the timeline of the day to all of your vendors who need it (wedding planner, hair and  makeup, photographers, celebrant, venue etc)
  • Make and confirm final payments to vendors
  • Confirm bookings for the venue, catering, cake, flowers, celebrant, transport etc
  • Final dress fitting and collection
  • Collect the rings
  • Hair and makeup trial
  • Finish all DIY projects
  • Confirm who is in charge of organising what – DIY decorations, set up, collecting the cake etc
  • Ask your bridesmaids or your mum to organise food and refreshments for before the ceremony
  • Book and confirm all beauty appointments such as manicure, pedicure, hair cut, waxing, tanning etc


The style of wedding you want and the things that are important to you and your partner will be  different from the next couple

Luckily, there are a host of unique and focused resources available at  your disposal

Image by Olessya from Pixabay

How to Train Your Puppy

Puppy Training

Puppy TrainingYour puppy will start to learn from the moment it’s born. The window of opportunity for you to instil the calm confidence and positive behaviour you want from your pup is not vast so, Roger Wilsher writes, it’s important to start from the moment you enter the puppy’s life.

If you are clear, consistent and fair from the start, you will teach your pup the boundaries to which it needs to adhere. The skills, rules and boundaries your pup adopts in its early weeks will be with it for the rest of the dog’s life.

First three weeks

You don’t need to worry yourself about the first three weeks when the pup will be more or less under the complete care of its mum, and how she behaves will affect the pup’s behaviour later in life.

Puppies have sponge-like brains so even though their senses are by no means fully developed they will be picking up influences and conditioning as the mother is licking, grooming and feeding her litter.

A puppy’s sense of touch is its main form of communication at this stage. Its sense of smell is already starting to develop.

Three to 14 weeks

By the end of the third week, most of the senses will have begun to develop. Eyes and ears are open, and the teeth are appearing.

Expect your pup to start walking and don’t be surprised if you hear the odd bark and growl. Your puppy is becoming aware of the existence of the humans around it as well as its litter mates and the wider world.

Mum’s influence is still enormous and although she will still be stimulating her offspring to go to the toilet, your puppy will be starting to learn how to go by itself. Mum will start to create more of a distance between her and her family as the pups move around.

This is when the puppy will experience conflict for the first time. It will be learning through consequences, like when it wants to feed and mum says no or when it plays with the other puppies and finds there are limits to how hard littermates will let it bite.

At this time your puppy will be learning about pleasure, pain and consequences, so if it was removed at this stage it would most likely miss out on this valuable learning experience. It’s acquiring knowledge from everything it comes across including other animals, humans and other pups.

What it is picking up is how to communicate, ways of receiving information and how to develop its own way of getting a message across. Your pup will be building an understanding of what is rewarding and what others will and will not tolerate.

It is important that at this crucial stage your pup does not learn fear, but instead acquires an understanding of compromise and what constitutes good manners.

Excessive punishment for anti-social behaviour, whether administered by its mother, its littermates or the humans around it, can have a detrimental effect on your puppy and may even lead to it becoming fearful and timid.

However, interaction is very important for your pup to learn what is known as ‘bite inhibition’. Your pup needs to find out what is an acceptable level of play mouthing, both when it is being invited to interact with and when it’s being told to back off from its peers.

Obesity Unlocked – the eBook

Obesity Unlocked - the eBook

Obesity Unlocked - the eBookSECTION 1: THE PROBLEM

What is obesity and how has it become such an issue?

Being overweight and obese is defined as having accumulated abnormal or excessive fat which presents a health risk.

Crudely obesity is measured by one’s body mass index (BMI). This is calculated by taking someone’s weight and dividing it by the square of that person’s height. People with BMIs of 30 or more are generally considered obese. People with BMIs of 25 or above are considered overweight.

Being overweight and obese poses significant risks of a number of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer.

It was once considered a problem restricted to high-income countries, but the problem is now rising in both low- and middle-income countries, particularly in the urban areas in these countries.

Indeed, worldwide obesity has almost tripled in the past 45 years. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2016, over 1.9 billion adults, aged over 18 years, were considered overweight, with 650 million of these being obese.

That’s 39% of all adults being overweight and 13% being obese.

The majority of the world’s population lives in countries where people are more likely to die from being too heavy rather than being underweight.

The WHO estimates that in 2016, 41 million children younger than five years were considered overweight or obese.

More than 340 million children and adolescents aged between five and 19 years were overweight or obese in the same year.

The Causes

Growth in people’s consumption of fast food, eating more trans-fatty acids (TFAs), and an increased intake of fructose, along with a growth in portion sizes and people being involved in less physical activity are all implicated as potential contributing factors in the global obesity crisis.

Globally, this has involved:

  • Higher intakes of energy-dense foods which are high in fat
  • Decreases in physical activity due to the sedentary nature of many types of work, less movement because of changing modes of transportation, and increased urbanisation.

Adjustments to patterns of diet and physical activity are frequently caused by changes in environment and society that can be attributed to the development and lack of policies supporting key sectors like agriculture, health, transport, planning, food processing, education, distribution, and marketing.

The Risks

Common health consequences of being overweight and obese include:

Raised BMI heightening the risk of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, in particular osteoarthritis and some cancers.

In addition, childhood obesity is associated with higher chances of premature death and disability in adulthood. Obese children may also experience difficulties with their breathing along with the increased risk of hypertension, fractures, and early indications of cardiovascular disease increased insulin resistance and psychological effects.

Obesity in childhood adds up to some significant health problems that frequently can last a lifetime. When obesity occurs in adults the problem is linked to increased risk of suffering from heart disease, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, particular cancers, and other conditions that are considered chronic.

Previously rare in people aged between 12 and 19 years, type II diabetes is being increasingly discovered in children and adolescents, particularly in minority communities.


The Calories Myth

Weight control is torture that millions of dieters have to go through. For a very long time, people who are overweight have been living with real pain and guilt as they try to apply the advice that is at best confused and in many cases just plain wrong.

The guidance that doctors and a string of nutritionists have provided in the past has been unanimous: to lose weight eat less and move more and keep tabs on your progress by counting your calories.

A typical example is someone who at their heaviest has a body-mass index—the ratio of height to weight of 35.6, well above the mark of 30 that doctors use to define someone as clinically obese.

The majority of government guidelines indicate that, as a man, this person needs to consume 2,500 calories a day to maintain their weight (the female target is 2,000). On this basis the advice would have been, by eating fewer than 2,000 calories a day, a weekly “deficit” of 3,500 would mean the person would be on target to lose 0.5kg a week.

The argument has always been consuming fewer calories than you burn each day would soon show results. The problem is that keeping to low-fat, low-calorie food doesn’t work. Dieters all over the world are familiar with the frustrations this myth has caused.

The majority of studies demonstrate that over 80% of people put on any weight they lose in the long term. As a result, most people assume this failure is down to being too lazy or greedy!

In general, it is true that by eating vastly fewer calories than are burned people become slimmer, and by consuming far more, people put on weight.

Calories as scientific measurement are not disputed. But working out the exact calorific content of food is! The reason is that is much harder than is implied in the precise numbers shown on food packaging. Two types of food that have identical calorific values can be digested in different ways and everybody processes calories differently.

There are plenty of variables, for example, the time of day that we eat can change the outcome. The fact is that tallying calories does little to help control weight or even to maintain a healthy diet.

The idea that counting calories in and out will help us control our weight is dangerously flawed.

Calories are ubiquitous in our daily lives. They take top billing on most packaged food and drink information labels. Increasing numbers of restaurants list calorie numbers found in each dish on menus.

Counting calories expended is just as standard. Wrist pounted fitness devices, our gym equipment, even phones inform us of the rate at which we supposedly burn calories.

It wasn’t always this way. For many centuries, scientists made the assumption that what was important was the mass of food we consumed. In the late 1700s, the Italian physician Santorio Sanctorius came up with his “weighing chair”, which dangled from a giant scale.

He would sit in it at regular intervals to measure his weight, all the things he ate and drank, and all the output he produced. He did this for 30 years but came up with no real conclusions about the impact his consumption had on his own body.

Later the focus shifted to the energy various foods contained. By the 18th century, the French aristocrat Antoine Lavoisier had come to the conclusion that burning a candle needed gas, which he named oxygen, to feed the flame, releasing heat.

Applying the same principle to food, Lavoisier concluded that it feeds the body like a fire burning slowly. This led to him building a calorimeter big enough to contain a guinea pig to measure heat generated by the animal so he could estimate the amount of energy produced.

Lavoisier’s research was literally cut short when the French revolutionaries removed the scientist’s head with the guillotine. It was not the end of developments. Later scientists built “bomb calorimeters” that burned food and measured the potential energy released.

The word calorie derives from the Latin for heat “calor” and was originally used to describe the efficiency of steam engines: one calorie is the energy needed to warm 1kg of water by 1⁰C.

By the 1860s German scientists began using the calorie to calculate the energy contained in food. But it was an American, Wilbur Atwater, who made popular the concept that the calorie could be employed to measure not just the energy in food but also the energy our bodies expend on an activity like muscular work, powering organs or repairing body tissue.

After visiting Germany in 1887, he penned articles that became hugely popular for their suggestions that “food is to the body what fuel is to the fire”. Atwater also introduced the notion of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, which he called “macronutrients”.

The drive for most of us today is to keep in touch with our calorie consumption so we can lose or maintain weight. It was the opposite concern that drove Atwater, the son of a Methodist minister, who was living at a time when malnutrition was affecting poor people. He wanted to uncover the most cost-effective foods that would satisfy the appetites of the poor.

The digestion rate differs among individuals but on average food takes between eight and 80 hours to travel through our systems. Atwater assessed how much energy a variety of macronutrients gave to the body by feeding samples of what was considered an “average” American diet. Atwater believed a large proportion of the constituents were made up of barley meal, molasses cookies, and chicken gizzards.

For as many as 12 days at a time, one volunteer would eat, sleep and exercise inside a 6ftx4ftx7ft container. With walls filled with water, Atwater was able to calculate the amount of energy each student’s body was generating.

The experiment also involved collecting the students’ faeces, which was burned to discover just how much energy was left behind in the body during the process of digestion.

Back in the 1890s this was pioneering stuff and Atwater concluded that a gram of either protein or carbohydrate created an average of four calories of energy, and each gram of fat provided an average 8.9 calories, which was rounded up for the purposes of convenience.

Since then we have learned much more about how our bodies work and have found that Atwater was correct that a proportion of every meal’s potential energy is excreted, but he had not realized that some energy was expended on the digestion process itself or that different foods generate different amounts of energy.

However, over a century later, the figures Atwater worked out that each macronutrient is still regarded as the standard for measuring calories in food!

Atwater believed there was no difference wherever calories came from. Whether a person was eating chocolate or spinach, if their bodies absorbed more energy than was used, then the excess would be stored as body fat, and people would put on weight.

The public imagination was captivated by the idea and in 1918 the very first book was published in the US promulgating the idea that healthy diet involved nothing more complicated than adding and subtracting the number of calories consumed and expended.

Lulu Hunt Peters in “Diet and Health” encouraged people to eat what they liked, including candies, pies, cakes, fatty meat, butter and cream as long as the calories were counted. The book was a best seller!

The cult of the calorie was entrenched in the public and government policy imagination by the 1930s.

However, by the late 1960s, obesity was a pressing health concern as people began eating more highly processed foods and an increased amount of sugar, while also leading a more sedentary lifestyle. With a growing number of people needing to lose weight, the focus of attention shifted to changing diets.

A war on fat was triggered, and Atwater’s calorie calculations became an unwitting ally. With counting calories seen as the ultimate authority on the health qualities of food, it was assumed obvious that the most calorie-laden food constituent —fat— had to be bad.

Dishes that were low in calories, but laden with sugar and other carbohydrates, were considered healthier. Fat became increasingly blamed for a lot of the health ills, aided and abetted by the powerful sugar lobby.

One researcher at the University of California has recently discovered documents from the later 1960s revealing how sugar companies secretly funded research at Harvard University with the aim of blaming fat for the obesity epidemic.

After a US Senate committee reported in 1977 that it recommended a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, other governments quickly followed suit. The food industry removed fats from food items and replaced them with sugar, along with starch and salt to maintain flavour.

But the expected improvements in public health didn’t manifest themselves. Instead, the trend led to the most dramatic increase in obesity in our history. Indeed, obesity almost tripled worldwide between 1975 and 2016, according to the WHO.

This has contributed to the fast rise in cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke, that is now recognized as the leading causes of death throughout the world. Rates of type-II diabetes have more than doubled in the past 40 years.

It isn’t just wealthy countries that have been witnessing these trends. In Mexico, urban middle-class families have put on weight aided by an increasing trade with the US that led to cheap sweets and fizzy drinks flooding the shops.

On top of this, it is now reckoned that the labels on food may be understating the calorie contents by as much as 20%.

But governments worldwide are not helping. They have enshrined calorie-counting into policy. Indeed, the WHO put the “fundamental cause” of obesity down to “an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended”.

Last year the US government demanded that food chains and vending machines provide calorie details on menus. Australia and the UK are going in a similar direction. Government bodies encourage dieters to record meals in calorie journals to lose weight. The results of experiments of a 19th-century scientist have hardly been changed—and are rarely ever questioned.


Yet millions of people give up their attempts at diets when the calorie-counting efforts are unsuccessful.

Food producers give specific readings: a slice of a Domino’s double pepperoni pizza is purported to be 248 calories. Yet the calories listed on food packaging and menus are often routinely wrong.

One nutritionist at Tufts University in Boston discovered that labels on US packaged food miss the correct calorie counts by 18% on average. US government rules allow food labels to understate calories by as much as 20%.

But some processed frozen foods get away with misstating calorific content by up to 70%!

It isn’t the only problem by any stretch of the imagination. The calorie counts printed on labels are invariably based on the amount of heat created when food is burned in an oven.

However, the human body is more complex than any oven. Food burned in a laboratory surrenders its calorie content in seconds. In real life, the journey food takes from our dinner plates to our toilet bowls averages about a day but has been found to range from eight to 80 hours depending on the individual.

Also, the calorie of one carbohydrate and that of a protein contain the same amount of stored energy, and as a result perform in the same way in an oven. But when those calories are put into a real body they behave very differently. US researchers last year discovered that we’ve been exaggerating by about 20% the calories absorbed from almonds. And we have been doing so for more than a century!

Dozens of factors influence the process our bodies use to store fat—the “weight” most of us seek to lose. As well as calories, our genes, the bacteria that live in our guts, the way we prepare food and how we sleep all have an effect on how we process food.

The fact is that the act of counting calories is a very crude and an often misleading way of dieting. All carbohydrates break down into sugars, which are the body’s main fuel source. But the speed at which your body gets its fuel from food can be as important as the amount of fuel.

Simple carbohydrates are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream to provide fast shots of energy: we absorb sugar from fizzy drinks at 30 calories per minute, compared with just two calories every 60 seconds from complex carbohydrates like potatoes or rice.

This matters because sudden hits of sugar prompt the rapid release of insulin, which carries this sugar from the bloodstream into our body’s cells. The problems occur when too much sugar is in the blood. While out liver is able to store some of this excess, the remains are stashed as fat.

This is why consuming sugar is the quickest way of creating body fat. And, if that’s not bad enough when the insulin has finished its job, our blood-sugar levels slump leaving us hungrier.

The reason why obesity is getting worse is as a consequence of civilisation. While our ancestors would enjoy a sugar hit maybe four times a year, with each new season producing fresh fruit, many of us are now able to enjoy this sugar kick every day. Those of us in the developed world now consume 20 times as much sugar as our forebears did even in Atwater’s age.

When we consume complex carbohydrates like cereals although these still break down into sugar they do so much more slowly, so our blood-sugar levels remain steadier. Fruit juices may contain fewer calories than a wholegrain bun but the bread delivers less sugar hit and leaves us feeling satiated for longer.

Other macronutrients with different functions include protein, which as the primary constituent of fish, meat, and dairy products has a major role to play in our bones, skin, and hair among other body tissues. When carbohydrate is absent in the necessary quantities protein also serves as fuel for our bodies. And because it breaks down slower than carbohydrates, is not so readily converted into body fat.

Fat should leave us feeling full for longer because our bodies split it into fatty acids slower than they process either carbohydrate or protein. Fat is needed to create hormones and helps protects our nerves.

Fat has also always been crucial for us to store energy, enabling us to survive even in periods of famine. Today our bodies are programmed to store extra fuel just in case there is a lack of food.

The fixation with counting calories makes the assumptions that calories are all equal and that all our bodies react to calories in the same way. Men are told they need 2,500 calories a day to maintain their weight. But there is an increasing amount of research that indicates when different people eat the same meal, the impact on each of those individual’s blood sugar and formation of fat varies according to their lifestyles, genes and unique gut bacteria.

One study published earlier this year shows that a certain group of genes is to be found more frequently in people who are overweight than those who are skinny. This suggests that some of us have to work harder than our peers to stay thin.

How we process food can be altered by differences in our gut microbiomes. In one 2015 study of 800, it was discovered that the rise in each person’s blood-sugar levels could vary by a factor of four even when everyone at identical food.

In addition, some of our intestines are 50% longer than other peoples and the people with shorter intestines absorb fewer calories. The knock on effect of this is that these people excrete more of the energy derived from food, which means they put on less weight.

Our own body’s response may also change depending on when we are eating. When we lose weight, our body tries to regain it, which slows down our metabolisms and even reduces the energy we spend on twitching and fidgeting our muscles.

Even our eating and sleeping schedules are important. When we go without a full night’s sleep it may be spurring our bodies to create a larger amount of fatty tissue. We may increase the amount of weight we put on by eating small amounts over a 12 to 15 hour period than we would if we ate the same amount of food in three separate meals in a shorter period of time.

One other weakness in the system of calorie-counting is that the energy we absorb from food is directly linked to the way the food is prepared. Grinding and chopping ingredients do part of digestion’s work, which means more calories are available to our bodies by cell walls being ripped apart before we eat.

This effect is magnified when the heat is applied. Just the act of cooking something increases the amount of food that can be digested in a stomach and small intestine, from 50% to an astonishing 95%. Digestible calories in beef rise by 15% with cooking. In sweet potato, the increase is around 40%. Boiling, roasting or microwaving all have different effects.

This impact is so significant it is why many scientists believe the discovery of fire and application to food played a crucial role in human evolution and is what made the human race the dominant species on earth. Put simply, the revelation of using heat to cook enabled the neurological expansion that created Homo sapiens.

The difficulty in accurately counting calories doesn’t end there. Calorie loads of foods heavy in carbohydrate, including pasta, bread, rice, and potatoes are slashed just by the acts of cooking, cooling and reheating them. As the starch molecules chill they form new structures which are more resilient to digestion. We absorb fewer calories when we consume toast that has gone cold than when it is hot off the grill.

Sri Lankan scientists have found that by adding coconut oil to rice during cooking and then cooling the food they could more than halve the calories potentially absorbed. The starch became less digestible so the body takes on fewer calories.

The Exercise Myth

The message that emanates from many public authorities and operations that produce food, especially those companies in the fast-food industry that sponsor sports events is that we can swerve getting fat if we take plenty of exercise.

There are unassailable health benefits from taking exercise for sure, but the truth is that unless you’re a professional athlete, the role it plays in weight control is much less than people are led to believe.

Of our daily energy expenditure on average, as much as 75% comes not through exercise but from ordinary daily activities, like digesting food, maintaining regular body temperature and powering our organs. We even force our bodies to burn calories when we drink ice-cold water.

By all means, exercise regularly, but rather than limit your calories, eat natural foods and steer clear of low-calorie products that are heavily processed and focus instead on the quality of the food you eat rather than the quantity.

To stop feeling ravenous all the time listen to your body and eat whenever you are hungry but only then and eat real food, not food ‘products’. Bacon, cheese, whole-fat milk, steaks, egg yolks, olive oil and nuts are not what causes people to put on weight.

There is a growing band of academics and scientists who advocate that persisting with the obsession with calorie-counting is actually compounding the obesity epidemic, not remedy it.

Counting calories disrupts our ability to eat the right amount of food. It has persisted because of its simplicity.

The scientific and health establishment is well aware that the current system is flawed. WHO officials acknowledge there are problems with the current system but argue that it has become so entrenched in industry standards consumer behaviour, and public policy that it is too expensive to make big changes.

Physical activity plays a very small role when it comes to tackling obesity. It is recognized that rather than playing it up public health messages should instead be squarely focusing on unhealthy eating.

In one editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a group of international experts called for people to “bust the myth” about exercise, saying that while activity is key to staving off diseases like diabetes, dementia and heart disease its impact on obesity was minimal.

The argument is that reducing the consumption of sugar and carbohydrates is key to tackling obesity. Experts blame the food industry for encouraging the belief that exercise is a way of counteracting the huge impact of unhealthy eating.

Obese people, they say, do not need to do any exercise to lose weight, but they need to eat less sugar and carbohydrates. The evidence is that as much as 40% of people within a normal weight range still harbour the harmful metabolic abnormalities that are typically associated with obesity.

The experts now say that public health messaging has “unhelpfully” been focusing on healthy weight maintenance through calorie counting when in fact it’s the source of calories that matters most. For example, research indicates diabetes increases by as much as 11-fold for every 150 added sugar calories consumed compared to equivalent fat calories.

Indeed, the Lancet global burden of disease programme has produced evidence that demonstrates unhealthy eating is linked to more ill health than lack of physical activity, drinking alcohol and smoking combined.

Leading Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra says that an obese person does not need to do any exercise in order to lose weight. His biggest concern is that the messaging emanating from the authorities suggests people can eat what they like as long as they exercise. He argues that this is “unscientific and wrong” because “you cannot outrun a bad diet.”


Understanding obesity and hormones

The hormones like insulin, oestrogens, androgens, leptin and growth hormones have a big influence on our metabolism, appetite and body fat distribution.

It is common to hear people say they are fat or overweight because of a hormone imbalance and that it is predetermined and even inborn and they feel like victims of nature. But often the problem lies in those on people’s behaviour, like lack of activity and confidence, which can lead to hormonal imbalance and consequently to obesity.

Hormones are chemical messengers regulating our body’s processes. They play a role in causing obesity. Particular hormones – leptin, insulin, our sex and growth hormones- influence our metabolism, our appetite and how fat is distributed in our body.

Metabolism is the rate our body burns kilojoules to provide is with energy, and the levels of these hormones in people who are obese can encourage abnormal metabolism and accumulation of body fat.

A gland system, called the endocrine system, is what secretes hormones into the bloodstream. It works in conjunction with our nervous and immune systems to assist our body in coping with various stressful events. If we have these hormones in excess or deficit it can both lead to obesity and to obesity leading to hormonal changes.


Fat cells produce leptin, which is secreted in our bloodstream. This hormone reduces our appetite by working on specific centres of our brain to reduce the urge to eat. It has also been linked to the way the body manages the storage of body fat.

Leptin levels have a tendency to be higher in obese people because it is produced by fat. However, despite higher levels of the appetite-reducing hormone, obese people aren’t as sensitive leptin’s effects and so don’t benefit from feeling full when eating.


Insulin is produced by our pancreas, and importantly regulates carbohydrates and how our body metabolises fat. It works by stimulating our muscles, liver and fat, for instance, to take up glucose/sugar, which ensures energy is available to us to function and maintain normal levels of circulating glucose.

In an obese person, insulin signals are disrupted and sometimes lost and the body’s tissues can no longer control glucose levels, which can lead to type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome developing.

Sex hormones

The distribution of our body fat distribution plays a key role in how obesity-related conditions develop, including strokes, heart disease, and various forms of arthritis. Fat around the abdomen is riskier than fat stored on our bottoms, hips and thighs.

It seems that what helps to decide body fat distribution is oestrogens and androgens. Oestrogens are sex hormones that are made by the pre-menopausal women’s ovaries and account for prompting ovulation during the menstrual cycle.

Postmenopausal women and men hardly produce any oestrogen. Instead, the majority of oestrogen is produced in body fat.

As sex hormone levels of both men and women change with age there are associated body fat distribution changes. Ageing men and postmenopausal women increasingly tend to store fat around their abdomen and become apple-shaped. Postmenopausal women who take oestrogen supplements don’t tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen. Studies of animals indicate lack of oestrogen can lead to excessive weight gain.

Growth hormones

Our brain’s pituitary gland produces growth hormone, which has an influence on a person’s height and assists in building bones and muscles. Growth hormone also has an effect on metabolism. Indeed, studies indicate that growth hormone levels in obese people are lower than those people who benefit from having normal weights.

Inflammatory factors

There are associations between obesity and low-grade chronic inflammation within fat tissue. When there is excessive fat storage it can lead to stress reactions within the fat cells, which then can lead to pro-inflammatory factors from the fat cells being released.

Obesity hormones

There is an increased risk of many diseases, including stroke, cardiovascular disease, and many types of cancer linked to obesity. For example, older women who are considered obese have an increased risk of breast cancer risk.


Obese people, unfortunately, have hormone levels which encourage body fat to accumulate. It would appear that such behaviours as overeating and failing to take regular exercise can over time make a person physiologically more likely to put on weight.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that the leptin level in a person’s blood falls following a low-kilojoule diet. These lower levels of leptin can increase appetite and slow down a person’s metabolism, which may explain why people who go on crash diets tend to put the lost weight back on.

Evidence suggests that with behaviour changes like healthy eating and regular exercise, the body can be re-trained to shed body fat and keep it off. Studies also indicate that weight loss can lead to enhanced insulin resistance, beneficial modulation of obesity hormones and decreased inflammation. Losing weight is also linked with decreasing risks of developing problems like stroke, heart disease, type II diabetes and specific cancers.

Sugar versus fat

Traditionally obesity has been thought of as the result of a caloric imbalance: our intake of calories exceeds the expenditure of calories.

However, the truth is more nuanced and suggests that the state of obesity results from a hormonal imbalance and nutrient and energy deficit that leads to a natural disinclination to get involved in physical activity.

Added sugars not only displace nutritionally superior food, but they can also deplete the nutrients from other food consumed. Moreover, by over-consuming sugar can trigger leptin and insulin resistance and result in what is known as ‘internal starvation’ which leads to increased hunger signals encouraging more eating. Sugar promotes obesity by promoting nutrient and energy deficit.

Sugar has hit the headlines and is now considered “the new tobacco”.  High sugar consumption has been linked to the rise of both obesity and diabetes.

The warning is that in addition to sugar being a primary cause of obesity, there is evidence that added sugar enhances the risk of people developing type II diabetes, fatty livers and metabolic syndrome.

Indeed, experts have now come to the conclusion that fruit juice has so much sugar it should no longer be counted as one of the five-a-day fruit and vegetable portions.

Campaigners against sugar in food believe there is a link between calories and obesity caused at least in part by high consumption of sugar. They argue that not enough is done to tackle the obesity and diabetes epidemic.

Most people are eating too much sugar, much of which is hidden in the food we consume.  The British Dietetic Association (BDA) says that adding sugar is unnecessary for a healthy diet. They point out that research indicates many foods with added sugars also have a lot of calories, and few other nutrients, like vitamins, proteins, and minerals.

Carbohydrate and low carb diets

It appears to be clear that the consumption of large amounts of carbohydrate invariably leads to weight gain.

New research by a US team has shown that consuming low carbs enhances the success rate of obesity treatments assisting people to maintain their weight loss. For example, studies published in The British Medical Journal (BMJ) have revealed how eating a low carb, high-fat diet benefitted the metabolisms of obese participants and enabled them to expend more calories, while experiencing less hunger than their counterparts who consumed a high carbohydrate, low-fat diet.

The research involved 164 overweight people with Body Mass Indexes (BMI) of 25 or more. Every participant lost 12% of his or her body weight on the initial 10-week weight loss diet, where 45% of the total energy was generated by carbohydrate, 30% by fat, and 25% by protein.

After this initial period, each participant was then assigned either a high, medium or low carb diet for another 20 weeks. In the high carb diet, the carbohydrates accounted for 60%, in the moderate carb diet 40% and in the low carb diet 20%.

Those assigned the low carb diet burned an average of 200 kcal per day more than other participants on high carb diets. They also demonstrated a 12% reduction in levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, compared with 5% in the participants on high carbohydrate diets.

These benefits were even more striking among the participants who demonstrated higher insulin secretion – which may lead to heightened insulin resistance in people who are overweight – with the low carbers from the higher insulin secretion group burning over 300 kcal per day on average when compared to the high carbohydrate group.

The researchers believe their results demonstrate that increased insulin levels after a high carbohydrate meal can increase hunger and lead to less energy being burned.

The findings cast even more doubt on the calories in, calories out (CICO) obesity model. They are more consistent with the new carbohydrate-insulin obesity model.

The British Dietetic Association has released a statement that clarifies how a low carb diet should become one of the possible dietary approaches for managing type II diabetes in adults.

What Needs to Change About Our Diet

The world is awash with diets. There are millions of them but there still seems to be a distinct lack of improvement in the fight against weight gain.

The reason is many faceted but starts from a lack of understanding of the problem of obesity. We eat too much sugar and an excess of carbohydrates. It is almost an addiction, comparable to alcohol, nicotine and many drugs.

Karen Thomson, the founder of Cape Town’s Help (Harmony Eating and Lifestyle Program), believes sugar is no less an addiction like alcohol, heroin or anorexia. Her operation is the world’s first and so far only rehab centre offering bespoke programs tailored to tackle sugar and carbohydrate addiction. To do this Help employs traditional rehabilitation techniques.

In the same way, a smoker finds it difficult to stop his or her habit of smoking and discovers that many anti-smoke programs are useless, so someone who finds it impossible to break the sugar and carbohydrate habit cannot stop consuming their favourite foods and finds diets do not help much.

As Thomson says it’s strange to think of someone hankering for a cupcake in the same way as others do for a crack pipe, but there is increasing evidence indicating that sugar may be triggering similar responses in the brain as more traditional forms of addiction.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans are imaging tests which enable doctors to check for diseases in our bodies. According to Help, PET scans have been showing that the very same neural pathways that are to be found in the brain come alight when obese children are exposed to sugar as they do when an alcoholic has a drink.

Currently, sugar is not classed as addictive. Instead, as is the case with gambling, the hit of pleasure that accompanies the consumption of sugar is seen as merely leading to addictive behaviour.

There is a ‘No Sugar’ movement, with Dr Robert Lustig at its head, whose claim that sugar is the world’s leading health risk, responsible for heart disease, diabetes and obesity, has been gaining traction.

The ‘No Sugar’ campaigners highlight Sweden, where low-carb/high-fat diets are long-established, and rates of obesity have been stabilised. There is an increasing number of health specialists who recommend we cut down on sugar. For example, Mandy Saligari, who founded London’s Charter Harley Street rehab centre, believes that sugar plays a key role in all manner of eating disorders, and sometimes even in cases of alcoholism.

Cape Town’s Thomson believes sugar addiction has to be treated in the same way as other addictions. Thomson is a recovering cocaine addict and alcoholic herself and adheres to the 12 steps approach used in Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups. Her clinic employs a 24-hour  team involving nurses, a medical doctor, clinical psychologists, trauma specialists, psychiatrists, addiction counsellors and a detox unit.

Her program consists of one-on-one therapy, learning programs tackling subjects like nutrition, trauma and group therapies, the 12-step program and diet.

Meals are all low-carb and high-fat, and a typical menu for a day could include avocado and eggs, tuna salad and chicken curry, with nuts and biltong for snacks. Because sugar is widely available, there is always a concern about patients relapsing so Help provides a complete after-care program with online support, and Skype counselling calls and WhatsApp support groups.



Managing obesity

An enormous amount of attention is concentrated on diet and physical activity. As a result, it seems that a great part of the population is still in the dark about the exact causes of obesity.

Too many people still hold the strong opinion that the way to weight loss means adopting some special diet and combining this with time spent on exercising. The idea is that the stricter the diet and the harder the physical activity, the better result will be achieved as far as weight loss is concerned.

Actually, neither solution is a solution at all. A main cause of disability is hormonal dysfunction.

If your BMI is within the range of obesity, it is typical for a health care provider to review your health history, carry out a physical exam and then recommend some tests, which will generally include:

  • Reviewing your weight history, any efforts you’ve made to lose weight, your exercise habits, your patterns of eating, any other conditions you’ve ever had, what medications are you taking, whether you are stressed and other health issues. Your doctor will probably ask about your family’s health history to identify if you are predisposed to certain conditions.
  • Physical examination to measure your height; check vital signs, like your heart rate, your blood pressure and your temperature; listen to your heart and lungs, and examine your abdomen.
  • Calculate your BMI by checking your body mass index (BMI) in a bid to determine your obesity level.
  • Measure your waist circumference. Fat that is stored around the waist, also visceral or abdominal fat, may increase the risk of diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
  • Check for signs of other health problems.
  • Blood tests.

Armed with all this information helps determine how much weight you need to lose and what health risks you already face, which will help guide any treatment decisions.

The goal of any obesity treatment is to aim for and retain a healthy weight. You may need to work with a team that could include a dietitian, a behaviour counsellor and an obesity specialist.

Initially, treatment is aimed at modest weight loss of between 3% and 5% of your total weight, but the more weight you are able to lose, the greater the benefits are likely to be.

To lose weight will require changes to eating habits and increased physical activity.

As well as dietary changes and activity other management techniques include:

  • Behavioural changes which can assist in making lifestyle changes so weight is lost and kept off. Steps to take include:
  • Examination of current habits to find out what factors might have contributed to obesity.
  • Behaviour therapy, which can include:
    • Counselling with trained mental health professionals who can help tackle emotional issues related to eating.
    • Support groups where others are able to share the challenges they have had with obesity.
  • Taking weight-loss medications, though there is a high likelihood of regaining weight when the medication stops being taken.
  • Bariatric surgery includes:
    • Gastric bypass where a surgeon makes a small pouch at the stomach’s top and cuts the small intestine a short distance below the main stomach and connects it to the new pouch so food and drink flow directly from the pouch into this part of the intestine and bypasses most of the stomach.
  • Gastric banding where the stomach is split into two pouches with an inflatable band. The band is pulled tight, like a belt and a tiny channel is created between the two pouches.

Setting a Strategy

As with any strategy to tackle obesity you need to have a plan that is easy to follow and to understand.

Plan your day and week ahead.

Take a look at what kind of products you have in your refrigerator and kitchen lockers.

In most cases we eat what we have at home at the times we want to eat.  There is not much time to go buying some products when you are hungry. Your stomach and your brain are telling you that need it immediately.

Usually, we don´t tend to think consciously. Instead, we act automatically because we need to fulfil our hunger. It´s only natural.  So what we need to develop is a habit of planning what we are going to be eating over the next couple of days.

Make this pan as easy as possible.  Complexity is our enemy. So take a seat and consider which products you are going to need and reject any that are extra to requirements.

Take a piece of paper and write it all down.  Have you noticed that in many cases you buy the same products when you go shopping? You probably are used to picking these automatically, especially if you have done so for a long time.

You probably know the store you are buying in, so you can save time and finish shopping very quickly.  But by planning and writing down the things you need you can avoid the trap of buying the same things automatically.

When you want to add something new to your daily rations or to prepare a different salad it is highly recommended that you choose meals that can be made with only a few ingredients – maybe two or three – to avoid having to buy too much and putting pressure on your wallet.

You don’t need recipes where the ingredients are difficult to find. To be sure you are buying just the right things make your shopping as easy as possible.

Sometimes you may notice that many unnecessary products will gradually disappear from your house without them being thrown away because you are consuming these and instead of buying new ones.

In the beginning, it is bound to be a little unusual to be making the things that you have not cooked before, but this is normal when you are breaking habits that previously caused you to consume products that were unhealthy.

Don’t worry. Soon the new habits will lead you enjoying your new healthy life and the freedom from being addicted to fast food and food that is too rich in carbohydrates.

Practical tips

  • Just take a five minutes break and consider what would like to eat today and tomorrow
  • Take a piece of paper and write down your list of all the necessary products you are going to need.
  • Shop little and often.
  • Don´t throw away the food you may consider to be unhealthy. It will disappear automatically when you buy new alternatives.
  • Make a plan for at least three weeks until your conscious new action becomes a habit.
  • Keep your strategy as simple as possible.

Strategies only work when they are simple. This is valid in many life spheres, whether in sport, in business, or in education.

Your strategy needs to be individually yours. Each person responds differently.

Be confident and consistent so that in time you will see the results. It´s not just about following your plan once a week or a month, it’s all about regularity. Going to the gym and training for eight hours on one occasion does nothing lasting to your body, but going regularly and putting in 20 minutes in time will soon see your body change. Another way of looking at it is if you go to a dentist twice a year you won’t make your teeth healthy. But if you clean your teeth twice a day you will your mouth healthy for a long time.

Aim to eliminate the cause but not the result. Many people don´t understand the underlying cause of a problem. If you think that carrying excess weight is the problem you are misunderstanding the issue.

It would be like an alcoholic or drug addict thinking that it’s the alcohol or the drugs that are the root cause of their addiction.

The problem lies instead in internal factors, such as low self-esteem, lack of confidence, being socially challenged, and in some cases, the problem may grow out of a lack of education or bad-breeding.

In the case of obesity, the problem is most likely as a result of hormonal dysfunction.

One study has indicated that exercise may both increase the sensitivity of insulin and simultaneously decrease its production. On another hand, a diet doesn’t affect either the sensitivity or the secretion of insulin.

This is very important because insulin resistance leads to diabetes and weight gain. This is why some form of physical activity should be integrated into any plan to lose weight.

However, it’s important not to obsess about physical activity. It should not be the leading strategy when trying to lose weight, because it takes a lot of time and efforts to burn calories. Moreover, physical activity requires a lot of energy, which can encourage the body to find ways to gain calories to produce that energy.

Exercise must be balanced with other methods, like decreasing your sugar intake.

Intermittent fasting

Several studies indicate that short-term and intermittent fasting of up to 24 weeks in duration, can lead to weight loss in some overweight individuals. There are various routines including:

  • The 5:2 Diet, which means fasting on two out of every seven days and on these fasting days consuming between 500 and 600 calories.
  • The 16/8 method, which requires fasting for 16 hours and eating only during an eight-hour window. For the majority of people, this eight-hour window would be between noon and 8 pm. Research into this method discovered that eating during the restricted period caused participants to consume fewer calories and lose more weight.

Eating mindfully

As the majority of us lead busy lives, we often eat quickly and on the run, while driving, at our desks, and during bouts of watching TV. As a result, many of us are hardly aware of the food we eat.

To eat more mindfully try:

  • Sitting at a table to eat.
  • Avoiding any distractions like the TV, working or driving while eating.
  • Eating more slowly so you take time to chew and savour the flavour of your food.
  • Considering your food choices so you select food that is full of nutrients and is likely to satisfy you for more than just minutes.

Eating protein for breakfast

Protein regulates our appetite hormones and helps us feel full, mostly because of a decrease in the hunger hormone ghrelin and an increase in the satiety hormones cholecystokinin, peptide YY, and GLP-1.

Studies of young adults who have eaten a high-protein breakfast have found the hormonal effects can last for several hours. Good high-protein breakfast ingredients include oats, eggs, nut and seed kinds of butter, quinoa, porridge, sardines, and chia seeds.


Reducing sugar and refined carbohydrates

Swapping high-sugar snacks for fruits and nuts is beneficial because it counters trends in the Western diet towards increasingly high uses of added sugars, with definite links to obesity.

White rice, bread, and pasta contain refined carbohydrates that no longer contain any fibre or other nutrients.

Quick to digest, these foods convert rapidly to glucose and excess glucose provokes the insulin hormone that encourages fat storage and weight gain.

What to eat

Where possible, we should be swapping processed and sugary foods for healthier options like:

  • whole-grain bread, rice, and pasta replacing white versions
  • nuts, fruit, and seeds rather than high-sugar snacks
  • fruit-infused water instead of regular or diet sodas
  • smoothies with water or milk rather than fruit juice

There are simple steps we can take to help keep our weight in check and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Eat Well

Healthy eating is crucial to good health and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s not just what and how much we eat but also how we eat that’s important.

The whole foods we should be using include:


  • Whole wheat, oats, brown rice, quinoa
  • Vegetables of all colours but not potatoes
  • Whole fruits but not fruit juices, which are packed with natural sugar
  • Seeds, nuts, beans, and other sources of protein like fish and poultry
  • Olive and other vegetable oils
  • Water and beverages that are naturally free of calories.


The food and drinks that need to be limited include:

  • Soda, fruit juices, sports drinks
  • White bread, white rice, white pasta and sweets
  • Potatoes
  • Red meat like beef, lamb and pork and processed meats like ham, salami, bacon and sausages
  • Highly processed fast food.

How Much to Eat

Body size, age, gender, and the level of physical activity carried out by an individual are what dictate how much we should be eating if we want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

The recommended approach is to adopt those habits that are likely to help you avoid overeating and to skip the high-calorie, low-nutrient foods most strongly linked to people gaining weight, like sodas, refined grains, and potatoes.

To avoid over-eating it is advised to:

  • Eat breakfast, because skipping this invariably backfires with hunger crashing in mid-morning leading to overeating.
  • Eat slowly and choose small portions, both of which can help avoid excess consumption by allowing the brain time to inform the stomach that it’s had enough.
  • Limit distractions like the television, the computer, or your smartphone to better focus on your food.
  • Eat at home rather than out where the portions can be larger and are bound to be less nutritious than foods you cook for yourself.
  • Eat mindfully so you take time to think about why you’re eating.
  • Focus all of the senses on your food, so you truly enjoy what you eat.



Obesity and its related non-communicable diseases are for the most part preventable.  Choosing healthier food and regular physical activity are most easily followed in supportive environments and communities which prevent us from becoming overweight and obese.

At an individual level, we can:

  • Limit energy intake from total sugars and carbohydrates
  • Increase our consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, nuts and whole grains
  • Take part in regular physical activity

It’s important to avoid unrealistic diet changes, like crash diets, which are unlikely to help keep excess weight off in the long term.

The plan should be to participate in a weight-loss program for at least six months followed by a year of maintenance to boost the odds of weight-loss success.

There is no one best program. The key is choosing one that includes healthy food you feel will work for you. Dietary changes to treat obesity include:

  • Feeling full eating less.
  • Making healthier choices by eating more plant-based foods, like fruit, vegetables and whole-grain carbohydrates, as well as lean sources of protein including beans, lentils and soy along with lean meat and fish.
  • Limit salt and added sugar.
  • Restricting high-carbohydrate food.
  • Cut out sugary drinks.
  • Eat healthy snacks.
  • Be wary of crash diets and quick fixes.

The food industry, of course, has a lot it can do to play a significant role in promoting a healthy diet by:

  • Reducing the sugar and salt content of processed foods
  • Ensuring that nutritious choices are available and affordable
  • Restricting the marketing of food that is high in sugars, salt and carbohydrates, especially when they are aimed at children and teenagers
  • Making sure there are healthy food choices available.