I’m getting married in five months’ time and I’m having some serious problems with my weight. My wedding dress has already been purchased, but I now find it’s two sizes too small for my current weight. My mother thought it would be a good motivator for me to lose weight ahead of my wedding, but I haven’t lost anything in the past seven months since the date was set! I’m starting to get anxious – time’s running out! Please help!

I understand your dilemma as many of my clients have been in a similar position. They’ve used the prospect of their own wedding as a way of trying to deal with a weight issue, believing it will galvanise them to change the way they eat. But more often than not this only increases the pressure and they pile on the kilos!

Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best on your wedding day, but I’d urge you to remember that your future husband is marrying you for who you are as opposed to the size label on your dress.

Nevertheless, you are in this situation, so let’s deal with the here and the now.

First, although it sounds like your mum suggested you buy a dress two sizes too small with good intentions, it does make me wonder whether she has put pressure on you in the past about your size, and how this emotionally affects you when it comes to your behaviour around food.

Our ‘food feelings’ are deeply entrenched in our minds with associations we make from childhood. Perhaps you have turned to food for comfort when you feel judged, or perhaps you’ve temporarily learned to quell emotional turmoil by reaching for snacks.

Whatever the reason, to start the process to change you need to understand more deeply your behaviour around food and how your thought processes, conscious and subconscious control this. Only then can you start to heal that relationship and bring it into balance.

This is a process that can take some time, so I would urge you to look beyond your wedding and make the commitment to change for you and your health in the long term, and not just for that single day.

The next thing I would say is don’t be too hard on yourself! The run-up to a wedding is all too often a stressful one; no doubt the dress is just one of the many things on your mind at the moment.

In a situation such as this where a deadline is looming, the two key things to remember are – you will look beautiful on your big day no matter your dress size, and your long-term health is of the highest importance.

It can be tempting in situations like these to explore so-called crash diets; diets that involve a level of short-term intensity and can entail skipping meals or strange combinations of food.

My biggest piece of advice is – don’t even consider these, no matter how panicked you may be feeling about fitting into a certain size of dress, because they rely on such extreme dietary changes that they’re categorically unsustainable and can even result in you putting on more weight.

Now, dropping two dress sizes in five months might seem like a daunting challenge, especially if you are surrounded by wedding stress and comfort eating because of this. But I believe that – after receiving your doctor’s approval of 
course – there are so many things you can do to achieve your goal on time.

To start with, it’s important to audit what you eat. Keep a diary for a couple of days, noting down what you eat and how you feel at the time, so that you can begin to understand the triggers for the food choices you are making.

Then start to make some healthy swaps and have a plan of action for what you will do when you feel temptation strike. Making vegetables the most important part of your lunch or dinner plate will also help to boost your health and fill you up.

Distraction techniques are important and planning your food choices ahead of time is also vital, so that you don’t make snap decisions when you feel hungry.

Listen to your body carefully too. By this I mean, before you eat try to work out whether you’re really hungry or prompted by some other emotion, such as boredom.

Buddy up with someone if you can. I would suggest you share your anxieties and feelings with your fiancé and see if together you can work towards positive health goals.

This way you’ll start off married life with that feeling of mutual support, which is such a key ingredient in the recipe for a long and happy marriage.