Photo: Getty Images
We're all about eating healthfully. But it turns out, what you don't put into your body in the weeks before your wedding is just as important as what you do. According to our experts, here are 10 foods you should avoid before the big day.
1. Your Olivia Pope-sized glass of wine (or any other alcoholic beverage).
According to health coach and founder of Brideance Emma-Louise Parkes, a glass of wine might seem like the perfect way to unwind after wedding planning. But while that glass (or two) will calm your nerves, it could also keep you up at night. "Good sleep equals cell repair and lower cortisol levels," which give you beautiful skin and control your stress levels, respectively, "so switch out that vino for a non-alcoholic drink," Parkes recommends.
2. Your sushi, with a side of soy sauce.
Sushi and perhaps more importantly, the soy sauce we dip it into, is "incredibly bloating," according to celebrity chef and weight-loss coach Devin Alexander. If you can give up those little rolls of heaven and say no to soy sauce, "you can lose a bit of tummy poof and possibly even under eye puffiness," she says. Tuna is another fishy no-no. It has enough sodium to make you seriously bloat, too, so you'll want to skip it in the days before the wedding.
3. Your morning cup of coffee.
According to Jennifer Dene, celebrity personal trainer and founder of Mind Body Bride, "caffeine is a stimulant that adds fuel to the fire on frazzled bridal nerves. It increases the amount of stress hormone cortisol in the body, and actually elevates your perception of stress, so all those last minute tasks become even more stressful." Of course, caffeine is found in more than coffee — you'll find it in tea, soda, and even chocolate — so you'll need to skip more than your morning cup of Joe if you want to go completely caffeine-free. "For most brides, consuming some caffeine is OK, but if they're experiencing a lot of stress, they might consider cutting back," says Dene.
4. Your go-to morning cereal.
There's no doubt that a bowl of Cheerios is the easiest breakfast around, especially for a busy bride. But, says Parkes, "cereal just isn't efficient at keeping you full until lunchtime. The high carbohydrate content means your body will release insulin to pull all that extra sugar from your blood, and a few hours later you'll experience that sugar crash that sends you rushing for a mid-morning snack." Instead, reach for high-protein foods that will keep you fuller for longer, such as eggs or Greek yogurt.
5. Your pre-packaged deli-meat.
Deli meats, such as turkey, chicken, and roast beef, "are insanely high in sodium — even the low sodium varieties," says Alexander. That doesn't mean you can't pack a sandwich for a quick and easy lunch. But Alexander recommends sticking to deli meats that are sliced from freshly-cooked and un-brined meats. In other words, she says, "cook a turkey breast roast or grill a London broil yourself, then slice it down to use as deli meat."
6. Your afternoon snack of raw carrots.
It seems counterintuitive to tell you to stop eating something that's so healthy. Dene knows it. "This suggestion may be a little surprising, but the reality is that the body has to work really hard to break down and digest raw vegetables, which is putting her body under even more stress," she explains. "The fiber in raw veggies can also cause a bloated belly in anyone with a weak digestive system. The exception here is water-based vegetables, such as zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce and tomato." So swap out your raw veggies for steamed or baked varieties of greens, carrots, and beets.
7. Your post-gym smoothie.
After a workout, who doesn't like a refreshing fruit smoothie (hopefully packed with a little protein). But while smoothies and fruit juices seem like a healthy choice when compared with soda, they're lacking the essential fiber your body needs to digest, as Parkes explains. "Consisting of pure sugar, you're getting all the calories without any substance to tell your brain 'I'm full,' which means you're much more likely to over-eat later in the day," she sys. Switch to plain ol' water, and your body will thank you.
8. Your side of broccoli.
Broccoli is in the family of cruciferous vegetables. (So are cauliflower, cabbage, and onions.) And they're all "wonderful foods to eat," Dene says, "but just not in the days before the wedding. Cruciferous veggies contain chemical compounds that can cause bloating, flatulence, and stomach cramps. And poorly digested food of any kind can also lead to bad breath, so it's just best to leave them out." Instead, you can opt for vegetables that have high-water content, such as zucchini, lettuce, and asparagus.
9. Your whole-wheat spaghetti.
Yes, you're making a good choice by eating whole grains. But, Parkes says, "wheat is the cause of the famous post-pasta belly, wheat is hard to digest even for those who aren't intolerant or sensitive to it." Why? As she explains, "the way high-carb foods such as wheat are digested causes the body to retain more water than eating protein or fat does, meaning potential puffiness everywhere from your face to your ankles in addition to that tummy bloat." And you don't want that in the weeks leading up to your wedding. So, she says, "substitute pasta, pizza and bread with extra helpings of fresh vegetables. Brides can see almost immediate results from this simple switch."
10. Your sauce and salad dressing.
According to Dene, "Most supermarket and restaurant sauces and salad dressings are made with lots of sugar and salt — that's what makes them tasty. But these hidden ingredients can lead to bloating, water retention, dehydration, and pack a lot of extra calories into an otherwise healthy meal." If you've made a sauce or dressing yourself, it's probably safe to eat. Otherwise, use olive oil, sliced tomatoes, or even lemon to flavor your pastas and salads.