You’ve perfected your playlist, selected your signature cocktail, and finalized the favors. The remaining item on your to-do list? Reaching your health goals before the big day. But forget the crazy workouts or restrictive cleanses: The secret to more energy, glowing skin, and a toned shape is actually in what you eat. And we’re not talking about a demanding detox diet, even if you’re the type of person who’s regularly jonesing for green juice. Instead, simply start making smarter swaps and introducing easy lifestyle hacks that’ll help you look and feel amazing by the time you walk down the aisle.
Rise and sip
It’s the simplest step, but it makes the biggest difference. Down at least 16 ounces of filtered, room-temp H2O as soon as you wake up to help kickstart your metabolism, rehydrate your organs after a long night’s fasting, and banish grogginess. Bonus points if you squeeze in half a lemon and use warm water. Not only will the lemon juice boost your immune system, but it aids digestion, acts as a skin purifier, and assists your body’s natural detox processes, too.
Trust your gut
Research has shown that chronic stress totally throws off your gut microbiome and alters the integrity of your intestinal lining, which can lead to inflammation and food sensitivities down the line. The best method to combat the negative effects of stress? Partnering up with a daily probiotic. The most effective formulas boast both prebiotics and probiotics (aka synbiotics).
Make prep a passion
Self-care is a buzzy topic right now, and for good reason. Changing your thinking about food preparation as a chore to viewing it as a personal investment in your wellbeing can do wonders for your emotional relationship with food. Reinvigorate your meal prep by trying out a new cookbook, signing up for a cooking class with your bridal party (like baltimorechefshop.com or scholacooks.com), or gifting your fiancé(e) with a bound book of compiled family recipes.
Say hello to seeds
Seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, and chia are like a secret weapon. Not only do they add crunch and dimension to salads, soups, and snacks, they’re packed full of minerals and hormone-balancing phytonutrients. Seek out sprouted seeds, which are even easier to digest and metabolize—but any raw, unsalted variety will do. Try toasting in a dry skillet for a few minutes, then sprinkling with abandon over all your favorite dishes to really boost the flavor factor (and nutritional benefits).
Try broccoli for breakfast
An often overlooked opportunity to meet your five-a-day? The humble breakfast. Try adding peas and parmesan to your oatmeal, zucchini to your smoothie, mushrooms and kale to your egg sandwich, or broccoli with walnuts and blue cheese to your toast. You’ll increase your fiber, vitamin, and mineral intakes and start the day off feeling energized—plus you’ll inspire yourself to keep up with those better choices for the rest of the day.
Eliminate white foods (mostly)
The three biggest food offenders for most men and women include white sugar, refined flour, and dairy, which can each contribute to sluggish digestion, extra pounds, and inflammation. Many people discover that after three weeks of elimination, they feel lighter and more clear-headed, but it’s difficult to nix processed carbs and dairy altogether. Try the 90/10 rule: Avoid these culprits 90 percent of the time, but incorporate your favorites into the remaining 10 percent. Not only will you savor that chocolate croissant or queso more as an occasional treat, you’ll be giving your body the best basics possible.That wedding cake will taste so much sweeter.
Make like a master chef
If you’re eating most of your meals out, you’re likely ingesting extra calories, to the tune of 20 to 40 percent more than your at-home-eating counterparts. Yes, cooking all your meals takes time. No, no one is suggesting that you spend six hours on a Sunday schlepping groceries and slaving over the stove (but if that gives you life, then go for it!). A much more reasonable, feasible way to meal prep is to make a few sauces/dressings one night a week. Miso-tahini dressing, teriyaki garlic sauce, and kale pesto make the question, “What’s for dinner?” that much easier to answer.
Eat more fat
High-quality fat sources are what your hormones’ dreams are made of—for both males and females. This isn’t an excuse to load up on pizza and burgers—we’re talking primarily plant-based fats such as avocado, coconut and coconut oil, olives and olive oil, ghee, nuts, and seeds. Combining carb-centric meals and snacks with a fat source (think brown rice and chicken burrito bowls topped with homemade guacamole) will not only keep you fuller for longer, but will aid in blood-sugar balancing and naturally start to push excess carbs off your plate.
This step is probably the most challenging: making smart swaps when your cravings are starting to rule you, rather than the reverse. If you’re downing your third cold brew of the day or finding you can’t make it through the week without a daily happy hour, it might be time to start scaling back on the vices. Most of us use caffeine and alcohol to fight burnout, but they can actually contribute to that running-on-empty feeling. And when you’re super-stressed, Red Bull and rosé aren’t your friends. Instead, swap matcha in for your regular latte or try a mushroom-coffee combo (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like) that boosts your immune system and supports your stress response. Instead of beer and cocktails, sip on kombucha, vinegar shrubs, or herbal mocktails for a post-work pick-me-up with actual health benefits. Spending a non-booze-soaked happy hour with good friends or colleagues will still take the edge off, without overtaxing your liver.
Switch up your smoothies
Consider smoothies a powerful tool in your dietary arsenal: Not only are they suitable meal replacements when chock-full of fiber, protein, fat, and greens, but they’re easy to make in a pinch, travel well, and are the epitome of good-for-you fast food. The rule of thumb? Stick to just one serving of fruit (about ½ cup) and fill the rest of your blender with leafy greens, hemp, flax, or chia seeds, nut milk, protein powder, and MCT oil to really power up.
Waller is a board-certified clinical nutritionist, herbalist, and founder of WELLTRIBE.
4 Ways to Get Fit Together
You’re about to share everything—so why not also share your workout regimens?
Whip up a double batch of your fave breakfast smoothie and pour a cup for each of you. Try blending baby spinach, coconut milk, whole milk yogurt, banana, bee pollen, and a bit of honey to check all the fat, fiber, protein, and greens boxes.
Make your next date night a workout night. We like POUNDfit at Movement Lab in Remington, which incorporates weighted drumsticks for a jam session, or FloYo, a super chill standup paddleboard yoga class in Dundalk.
Swap your regular boozy brunch for a Sunday morning hike with a couple of cold brews. Lake Roland offers miles of well-maintained trails within the city limits.
A League of Your Own
Ready for a little friendly competition? Volo City offers games in Federal Hill, Canton, and Hampden.