No matter your shape, size, schedule or wedding style, every bride deserves to look and feel absolutely incredible, from the inside out. Ever wonder what you should eat to reduce bloating before dress shopping or a fitting? What about the best foods to promote glowing skin and silky, bridal-ready hair? We went to two nutritionists—Amy Gannon, program manager and chief coach of eCoaching at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, and Robyn Youkilis, author of Go With Your Gut—for expert advice on what to eat, and what to avoid, before five important events leading up to “I do.”
Wedding Dress Shopping
You want to embody the best, most natural version of yourself on your wedding day. To achieve that goal, you should start your wedding dresssearch feeling that way too.
Steer Clear of Sodium
A great way to reduce bloating is to monitor your sodium intake. Any prepared or processed foods contain a ton of sodium. Gannon says 75 percent of sodium intake in the US comes from packaged and restaurant food—whoa. Definitely watch out for this and be extra careful when unwrapping a snack or ordering at a restaurant. Shoot for the most simply prepared, least processed foods, and try to cook for yourself as often as you can.
When it comes to fiber in your diet, Gannon suggests taking the Goldilocks approach: too much and you’ll end up bloated and uncomfortable; but too little and you’ll feel blocked up and bloated (it’s not pretty, but it’s true). So before trying on dresses, heed Gannon’s note: “Instead of a heaping bowl of bran cereal, which could be too much fiber at once, opt for low-fat Greek yogurt with berries for the right mix of lean protein and fiber.”
Probiotics stimulate the growth of good bacteria in your gut for healthy digestion. Fermented foods (Youkilis loves sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir and yogurt) are full of quality probiotics to help curb cravings, keep your digestive system on track, and guard you from feeling bloated and sluggish after meals.
Don’t knock this super simple tip before you try it. Youkilis claims this one change in your eating habits can completely transform your relationship with food. The fact is, your stomach can’t chew on it’s own (that’s why we have teeth!). So any food that isn’t thoroughly chewed can’t actually be digested, which causes bloating, weight gain and inflammation. “Chew your food until it’s liquid to feel full for longer and keep your stomach flatter. You’ll be skipping around from all the energy without a single diet change!” Youkilis says.
Wedding Dress Fittings
The Goal: To maintain your weight and shape from your previous fittings (and avoid having to undergo severe dress alterations).
Slow and Steady
If you want to slim down and stay trim, you have to go about it in a healthy, balanced, gradual and sustainable way, Gannon says. That means no crazy crash diets that severely limit or cut out entire food groups. Even if one of those drastic diets does work at first, it could only cause rapid weight loss that you can’t maintain (in fact, many people gain weight after the initial, rapid drop due to eventual binge eating and the inability to sustain such a severely restricted diet). For a bride-to-be, a fiasco like this could mean thousands of dollars in dress alterations if you lose, or regain, a lot of weight between fittings.
The Whole Picture
So, if you’re really serious about shedding some weight before your date, you should approach it as a more holistic lifestyle change. Don’t panic—it sounds scary and drastic, but it’s really about the combination of many small, subtle changes in order to achieve a larger goal. First, start early—gradual is best. “Focus on balanced meals with lean proteins, healthy fats and quality carbohydrates,” Gannon says. “[Look to] whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, chicken, fish, avocados, oatmeal, quinoa and plain, low-fat dairy.”
Five Foods Rule
To help maintain weight between fittings, follow Youkilis’s handy Rule of Five: Eat a maximum of five different foods at each given meal. This method helps you avoid the troublesome trap of complicating and overcrowding your meals with too many things. You don’t need a salad with dozens of body-friendly toppings—that’s too much clutter, even if all the ingredients are good for you on their own. Chill out and focus on eating a balanced meal or snack with no more than five major ingredients (oil and spices don’t count).
One great way to curb junk food cravings and stay lean is Youkilis’s Two-Minute Rule, which is just as simple as it sounds. Want that leftover doughnut from the office party? Wait—set a timer (on your phone, for example) for two minutes. Consider what you’re really craving. Maybe you’d be satisfied with a cup of hot green tea or a few gulps of water. If when the two minutes is up, you still can’t stop thinking about that treat, go ahead and have some. “It’s likely though, in those two minutes, the craving will disappear, or you’ll be able to decide on a better-for-you alternative,” Youkilis says.
Engagement Photo Shoot
The Goal: To energize and promote both clear skin and a healthy, natural, camera-ready glow.
Keep nutrient-rich foods—full of antioxidants, phytochemicals and healthy fats—in your meal wheelhouse to support healthy, clear skin. Fresh fruits and veggies are always an awesome go-to, as they’re full of these nutrients and water (which we’ll get to in a minute). Gannon recommends choosing produce like oranges, bell peppers, broccoli and cantaloupe that have tons of vitamin C (important for collagen production for healthy skin and tissues). Foods like salmon, sardines, walnuts and flaxseeds offer omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory and can benefit skin too.