I’m in that time of my life where everybody gets married for the next bunch of years, and we’re all in that time of year where it’s a really good idea for all of the young lovebirds to make it official – summertime is magical. However, amidst all the celebrations, health and fitness goals can get a little bit lost.
I’m here to help you through this oh-so-difficult time by providing you with a Nutrition Guide for the Frequent Wedding Goer, inspired by the format of my core residency form that I recently had to fill out for grad school (FYI, not officially a Texan yet).
NUTRITION GUIDE for the FREQUENT WEDDING GOER
A. Are you:
watching your weight? If so, proceed to part C
not watching your weight? If so, proceed to part D
or somewhere in the middle? If so, proceed to part B
B. Somewhere in the Middle
Since the first two categories are self explanatory, let’s look at the “somewhere in the middle” group. You’re not actively trying to lose weight, but if you somehow do you’re cool with it. Though if you somehow gain a little weight you’re kind of perturbed by it. You go to an event/holiday/vacation of some sort knowing there is going to be all kinds of delicious food, and since you aren’t trying to lose weight you have an “F it” attitude and eat whatever you want. Then, when it’s all over, you’re a little sad that you gained a couple pounds. Well, maybe it’s the gratuitous amount of bagels that you consumed in a 4-day period. I tend to fall into this category 90% of the time (yes the bagels were delicious), and I know better. The bottom line is that all actions have consequences: extra calories lead to extra pounds, and we need to be ready for those consequences. Instead of living in this land of ambiguity, cement yourself solidly in either the “weight watching” or “throwing it all to the wind” category. Return to part A.
C. Watching Your Weight
You’re the smart one. You have goals, and you want to stick to them, but also not be a wet blanket. Here are some strategies that will help you stick with your healthy habits in the face of temptation.
Exercise No matter how “good” you are at the celebration, exercise is always an important way to balance your day. You’ll probably have no choice but to squeeze it in in the morning, which will set you up to make healthy choices all day long. You’ll work up enough of an appetite to have a solid balanced meal for breakfast, which will help you avoid cornering the server with the passed app trays at the reception.
Eat a good breakfast and lunch Even if you don’t exercise in the AM, you should still eat a balanced breakfast and lunch, and keep it vegetable-heavy. Chances are the calories from drinking at the wedding will be more than your usual (even if you keep it reasonable), and making sure that you get a little bit of whole grains, some protein, and a good chunk of veggies in at your other meals will keep things balanced but low-calorie. Of course, those veg should be grilled/steamed/raw/roasted/sauteed in not a TON of oil or butter and not covered in high calorie sauces. A good lunch might be a big salad with various vegetables tossed in a small amount of dressing and topped with grilled chicken, with a whole wheat roll on the side. For quick and easy healthy meals, look for a grocery store nearby with a salad bar. This may be the time to suck it up and pay for Whole Foods.
Pre-eat A good idea whenever you’re about to go to a big social gathering with lots of delicious food (especially during the holidays) is to pre-eat. We all know I have a hanger problem, and I don’t want it to happen to you. Have a snack that includes a fruit or vegetable (to take up volume) and a protein (to keep you sustained) before heading out to the festivities. Carrots and hummus, apple and string cheese, grapes and almonds are some personal faves.
Choose your entree wisely Typically a sit-down wedding will have three options: chicken/fish, red meat, and vegetarian; all of which are accompanied by some starch (rice or potatoes) and a vegetable. More often than not, that vegetarian option is a vegetable napoleon, which is just weddingspeak for a stack of grilled vegetables. Sounds healthy and low-calorie, and typically it is. BUT, I urge you: do not order this unless you’ve convinced your date to split a protein with you. Protein has staying power. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be dancing your tail off as soon as you lick the plate clean and you will need a meal that is going to provide you some sustenance well into the night. Read the food descriptions before choosing, and pick a protein that is grilled if possible, avoiding foods that are fried or served with heavy sauces (or choosing not to eat the sauce). Be a good salad-eater, start with the vegetables on your plate, and have a moderate amount of protein and starch. Eat until you are satisfied, but don’t overstuff yourself – you’ve got dancing to do. The same principles apply for buffet-style events: stock up on vegetables, and include a moderate portion of protein and starch. ALWAYS keep the Plate Method in mind
Don’t drink your calories Well, within reason. We are all here to
party celebrate the joyous union of two wonderful people, and along with that comes alcohol. Alcohol itself has 7 calories per gram, more than both carbohydrate and protein (4), so no matter what kind of booze you’re sippin on it’s going to have calories. HOWEVER, certain drinks will rack it up more than others. If your goal is simply to get a good buzz, choose hard liquor and club soda with a squeeze of citrus or a diet drink. Regular soda and juice are going to add calories from sugar that you simply do not need. If your goal is to enjoy a tasty bev, pick a good one, and sip it slowly. I understand the allure of an open bar, but just because you don’t need to pay for your alcohol doesn’t make it a contest to see who can drink the most before the night is over. You’re not in college anymore. I think.
Bring snacks Any dietitian will tell you that snacks are the most important thing ever. Stashing an apple, a STRONG + Kind bar, or some other portable healthy bite in your purse/”European Carryall” will help you to avoid that late night desperate Yelp search for “delivery + open now”. Late night delivery is basically the wild west, and not in a good way. Keep yourself responsibly sustained until your head hits the pillow.
D. Not Watching Your Weight
For you, my friend, we are just going to discuss damage control. Eat whatever you want, and enjoy yourself. That’s the whole point!! You’re the life of the party, and I’m not here to dampen your spirits. Just to make sure you can poop and aren’t miserable tomorrow.
Move around Do something. Whether it’s a morning jog or just a walk around the venue get your body goin’. We all feel blah when we are in one place for too long (right?) BONUS: if you take your workout outside, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the local scenery.
Hydrate You will be drinking. Consciously hydrate the day before and the day-of. Carry a bottle of water everywhere you go and drink from it a bunch, especially if you’re traveling – I find that people often neglect their thirst on trips. Get ahead of the game and hydrate early, it will help you in the future. The morning after, you may want to consider replacing some electrolytes too, especially if you weren’t so good at staying hydrated while dancing up a storm at the reception. Reach for a beverage that will replace electrolytes without added sugar, like Powerade Zero or Nuun.
Fiber Chances are that you haven’t been seeking out whole grains and fiber-rich vegetables all weekend, so take a fiber supplement for smooth moves. There’s nothing worse than a long ride home while constipated. There are fiber gummies on the market that make taking your fiber fun (!) or you could go with a supplement that dissolves into water.
Whatever you choose, please please be safe and please please have a freakin’ BLAST! It’s the biggest day of your friends’ lives up to this point and it’s your job to show them they’re loved (and to show the world your sweet Electric Slide skills). So go out there and have a ball.