Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Eat Heathy During Wedding Season

Wedding season is fully underway.  Its an exciting time, as I watch loved family members and friends take the plunge into a new stage of their lives.  There is something so moving about watching two people confess their love and devotion in front of a room full of people.  Not an easy thing to do! Weddings also bring family members together; we travel miles to make up for years of being apart.  As the countdown to our own wedding begins, we are also taking notes.   I love everything about weddings from personalized vows, unique entrances, hilarious speeches, and of course the food!  Every wedding has been different, such a pleasure!

Having a good time at weddings is simple...trying to maintain a healthy diet during wedding season is the tough part.  Let me explain, my family and I just came back from my cousin's wedding in Georgia.  We opted to save money and make the 14 hour drive, rather than fly.  So in three days I attended a yummy rehearsal dinner, tasty cocktail hour, an amazingly delicious buffet-style reception, and spent 28 of the last 72 hours in the car.  Not to mention lots of local beer and signature cocktails.  Needless to say, by the end of our wedding adventure, my body was screaming for a good workout.  But all the sitting and eating made me lethargic.  It is hard to recover!  It is three days since coming home and I am finally feeling normal.  Could you imagine if we had weddings every weekend?  By the time the poor couple gets married at the end of August, we would all have to be rolled on the dance floor!

So how do we have a BLAST at weddings (like we ought to) but stay healthy-ish?  Well, here are a few tips I picked up from the last hootin' tootin' Georgia wedding.  (Even though this wedding was twice as challenging due to the long drive there and back, we all will travel at some point this summer, so the advice is still relevant.)

1. Eating and Driving

First and foremost, before the festivities can begin, we must get ourselves there.  Starting our trip out right is an vital part to keeping us feeling great and ready to party.  If you can, pack as much food as you can and place it in a cooler for the drive.  I suggest grapes, apples, bananas, dried fruit, carrots, sliced cucumbers, celery, and your favorite veggie accessory (I like homemade hummus or tzadtziki sauce, but reduced fat peanut butter is also good).  The water in the fruits and veggies will keep you feeling hydrated and the munching will be low in calories.

For protein, pack natural, low-sodium beef-jerky if you are a meat eater and lots of almonds, walnuts, cashews, and peanuts for all my veggie enthusiasts.  If you are bringing a cooler, you can even pack string cheese, no-fat greek yogurt, etc.  If you need additional carbs, limit yourself to one small box of multi-grain crackers.  (Our favorite is the reduced-fat Triscuits)

Here is the key to successful car eating--pick one snack at a time.  How could I say that after I suggested all these fine snacks?  Well its simple, if you snack on everything you want in the beginning of a long car ride, then you will crave more as the trip goes on.  If you have only one snack in between each stretch-break, then you will pace yourself mentally and gastro-ly for the entire trip.

Drink LOTS of water.  Drinking water will help keep your body and mind from thinking about food.  Additionally, drinking water will force your body to have to use the bathroom, keeping everything in your system moving at the right speed even though you are sitting in the car. NEVER not drink during a ride because you don't want to use the bathroom.  Plan for bathroom breaks and use them.

Lastly, the stretch-break.  If you have packed correctly, then you should not need to buy food, your drinking lots of water, and so on breaks the only thing you should be thinking about is peeing and moving.  At each break take time to actually stretch and then try to do a mini power set: 15 squats, 15 lunges, 15 push-ups, and 15 tricep dips.  I like to do the dips and push-ups using the back bumper, so that I don't have to get on the ground in a dirty parking lot.

2. Hotel Food

If there is a buffet (and it's free!) try to keep it light and normal.  If you normally have toast at home, have toast.  If you have cereal, have cereal.  Do not let the temptation of endless bountiful breakfast food hypnotize you.  You know that at the wedding there will be delicious food in excess, so no need to stuff yourself first thing in the morning.

If it is a day wedding, skip lunch.  If it is a night wedding, have a Powerbar or something light for lunch.

3. Cocktail Hour

The only thing I can really say here is this.  Don't make any sudden moves.  Don't run to the nearest butler hors d'oeuvres and elbow your niece for the chicken skewer.  Don't pile your plate with everything from the cheese station.  You will stuff yourself to oblivion, no doubt.

This doesn't mean that you don't eat anything.  Instead you will eat the best.  My fiance always says that the best stuff comes out later.  Think of veggie dip and chips verses pigs-in-the-blanket, no one likes to fill up on chips.  Yeah, like that.  So my advice is to take one loop around the food stations and allow one round of the butler hors d'oeuvres to pass you by.  Then come up with a game plan; what looked the best?  What are people saying about the mini-quiches?  By waiting a bit, you can ensure you only get the munchies you really want.

4. Main Meal

If it is a structured meal--enjoy it.  If it is a buffet--make one trip.  That's all!

5. Bar Time

Shots, shots, shots!  When dealing with the open bar or cash bar, the only thing I can say is be mindful.  Obviously avoid added sugars in sodas, cranberry juices, and heavy beers.  Also, the more you drink, the more you may want to eat.  And if you are full of food and beer, can you really break into the shuffle or anything else for that matter.


This is the easiest one.  Just moving around on the dance floor with friends and family is the best remedy.

So, hopefully these little tips were helpful (even if only reminders) about how to enjoy all those wonderful weddings, while still looking your best!

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