Some brides-to-be embark on a clean eating and exercise regimen ahead of their wedding days; other simply try to keep unhealthy eating habits in check. Whichever camp you fall into, you're making these changes so that you feel and look your best when you walk down the aisle. The good news is that you don't have to totally overhaul your meal plan in order to feel confident in your wedding dress. There are, however, certain foods and drinks you might want to avoid in the days leading up to your wedding, including at your rehearsal dinner. Although you should enjoy yourself at this celebratory event, you'll also want to pass on any foods that cause bloating, dehydration, and even interfere with sleep.
To help guide you, we talked to nutrition experts, who share the foods you should pile on your plate during the rehearsal dinner and the ones to stay away from.
Yes, it's your rehearsal dinner and you should have at least a glass of something, but be weary of anything more than that. "Excessive alcohol can interrupt sleep patterns, causing you to feel fatigued the next day, which you definitely don't want to deal with on your wedding day," warns Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies. "Excess alcohol can also dehydrate you, leaving you feeling bloated with a lingering headache—not the ideal combination for looking and feeling your best in your wedding dress."
Have: Sparkling Water with Lemon
Your friends might be clinking flutes of Champagne in your honor, nutritionists say the bride-to-be needs to be cautious about how much alcohol she drinks the night before your wedding. In fact, they recommend filling your cup with mostly water and lemon to ensure you stay properly hydrated. "Many brides will actually restrict water intake leading up to big events, such as their wedding, as they think fluids will bloat them, however, this is not the case," explains Eliza Savage, R.D.. "Water helps flush everything through the body and drinking two to three liters of water per day will help you to fight the bloat." The addition of lemon is a plus, as she explains that the acid acts as a digestive aid and mild diuretic.
You may be tempted to reach for that extra cup of coffee at the end of the evening, but be warned that too much caffeine may interrupt your sleep. You don't need us to tell you that getting enough rest is important, do you? "Swap the caffeine for a glass of water, or a cup of hot water with lemon," says Palinski-Wade. "Your skin and body will thank you!"
Have: Protein and Non-Starchy Vegetables
When the entrées are served at your rehearsal dinner, Savage suggests prioritizing protein and non-starchy veggies, like greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and asparagus, over starchy ones, like corn, potatoes, and peas. "I find that many brides and grooms are mindful of carbohydrate portions leading up to the big day but then fall victim to the wrong ones the night before," says Savage. Her advice is to stick to lean sources of protein (salmon, chicken, a small piece of filet) and a side of vegetables.
Avoid: Processed Foods
Pretty much all of those passed hors d'oeuvres are not conducive to you feeling your very best in your wedding dress the following day, since most common apps are known to cause belly bloat and indigestion. "You may be wanting to sample all the delicious items offered, but it's a better idea to try and include some bride- and groom-friendly picks such as chicken skewers or veggie platters," says Palinski-Wade. Does that mean you have to skip the good stuff entirely? Nope, just choose one or two bites you really want to try, then fill up on healthy options after.
If you haven't already selected your rehearsal dinner menu, consider adding in dishes with this edible flowering plant. "Artichokes help the liver produce and excrete bile, which, in turn, prevents gastrointestinal disturbances like gas and bloat," explains Palinski-Wade. "Adding artichoke can provide support to your liver and help fight against bloat, gas, and constipation."
Have: Healthy Fats
It's important to remember not all fat is the enemy. In fact, there's good fat, like the kind found in avocados, that can actually help trim you down and provide you with sustaining energy. "Dietary fats are digested slower than complex carbohydrates and protein, so you will feel satisfied for the long haul," says Savage. Her favorite picks are unsalted nuts and seeds, avocado, and hummus.
Avoid: French Fries
Remember that excess fat and sodium are a recipe for a wedding-day disaster. "Eating high fat foods before bed may lead to indigestion and interrupted sleep—plus, the excess fat may also cause gastrointestinal distress, especially when combined with wedding jitters," says Palinski-Wade. "Combine that with the high sodium content that can cause bloat and you have a food you will want to wait for the honeymoon to splurge on."