Bridal showers, mehndi, sangeet, cocktail parties, pheras and finally the grand reception. All this and more, pre-wedding days do get exhausting and most times chaotic. And the toughest challenge every bride to-be faces is making the right food choices to have the perfect body on her wedding day while still enjoying every pre and post wedding party treats. The key is to find the balance. It is your wedding and you deserve the best, today and every day. Make this is your mantra from this day forward.

Most fruits, whole-grains, nuts and vegetables, especially greens, are ‘high-fiber, low-glycemic' and provide long-lasting energy which the bride to-be needs. For optimal health, get your grains intact from foods such as brown rice, whole-grain pasta and bread, and other grains like whole oats, millet and quinoa.

Though eating small, frequent meals are important, the most significant meal of the day is ‘Breakfast'. This is the one meal you cannot afford to miss, especially if you are on a wedding weight loss program! Just remember that breakfast must include protein, healthy fat, fiber and calcium rich foods. Every single day!

Protein at breakfast is the key to balancing blood sugar and is essential for weight loss. Protein is necessary for your bridal body to build muscle thus increasing your ability to burn fat. Jump start your day with high-fiber, high protein meal and top with low-fat or fat-free milk or dairy products or milk substitute. Sweeten with strawberries or blueberries for a boost in antioxidants. A protein-rich breakfast may include whole grain toast with nut butter or cottage cheese with flax meal or 2 eggs with chicken sausage or a veggie patty and fresh fruit or a nourishing protein-rich smoothie. Apart from these, there are also nuts and legumes which are excellent sources of protein with the added benefit of vitamins, fiber and minerals. Legumes include black beans, navy beans, red beans, pinto beans and other beans that are usually sold dried.

On that note, eating healthy isn't just for brides to-be, but for everybody, for life. Create a diet and exercise plan that suits you and make it a part of who you are. And don't forget to get plenty of sleep, on a regular schedule.

The Quick and Healthy Bites
Don't go hungry while shopping for your wedding. Pick simple and nutritious foods.

1. Whole grain cracker with nut butter and sliced fruit.
2. Plain yogurt with muesli.
3. Carrot or celery sticks with bean dip or hummus (you could also use cucumbers, bell peppers, snow peas, green beans, broccoli or cauliflower).
4. Hard-boiled egg.
5. Apple or pear with nut butter or low-fat cheese.
6. Plain yogurt with cucumbers and fresh dill.
7. Trail mix with nuts and seeds.
8. Egg salad on whole grain crackers.

The Weight Loss Strategy!
If you have a goal to achieve, take one step at a time and stay focused. Choose healthy substitutes for unhealthy foods.

1. To begin with, maintain a food record so you know what exactly your daily intake is.
2. There are no quick fixes, but dedicated plans result in long term success.
3. Understand your body. Your patterns, strengths and weaknesses and then try to modify.
4. Experts say you have to eat (right) to lose weight.
5. Going too long without food is bad for your energy as well as your weight loss efforts.
6. How much one should eat depends upon individual metabolic needs and activity levels.
7. Stay hydrated at all times.
8. Take time to eat three meals and two snacks. This helps you handle stress better and will ensure that you will supply your bridal body with the necessary nutrients.
9. If you have to eat out, choose a wrap over a burger and fries.
10. Instead of cheese use mustard as a sauce or flavoring agent in salads or sandwiches.
11. Choose lemonade over fizzy drinks.
12. Love your salads and veggies. Protein from chicken, beans, soy, fish, eggs and lean red meats. Brown rice, whole grain bread and whole-grain pasta are good side dishes.
13. Snack on fruits and nuts and even use them to top whole-grain cereals and yogurt.
14. Look for whole wheat bread with at least 5 grams of fiber per slice.
15. Try to have at least one cup of cooked broccoli with your meal.

 

THE RECIPES

Herbed Lentil and Vegetable Soup
1 cup brown lentils
4 cups vegetable broth with tomatoes
1 onion (chopped)
2 carrots (sliced)
3 celery stalks (sliced)
1 tsp thyme (dried )
1 tsp basil (dried )
1 tsp rosemary
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 bay leaves
2 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste

In a medium soup pot add olive oil and sauté the garlic, onions, carrot, celery and spices over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the broth, lentils and water and let it come to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer, covered for about an hour. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Before serving, you may add optional fresh vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, fennel or dark green leafy vegetables; simmer for 5 minutes and serve. You may also add some barley or brown rice to the soup.

Black Bean Burrito
1can black beans
2 whole wheat tortillas
2oz low-fat cheese
1 cup prepared salsa
½ red onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 red bell pepper (diced)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
goat cheese (optional)

Sauté onions and bell peppers for 5 minutes. Add garlic, black beans, olive oil, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Wrap ½ of mixture and 1 oz of low-fat cheese into each of the two tortillas. Top with salsa, and goat cheese (if desired). Serve immediately.

Waldorf Salad
1 golden apple (cut into cubes)
2 red or pink apples (cut into cubes)
2 celery stalks (finely chopped)
½ cup dried, unsweetened cherries (or raisins)
2 cups yogurt
¾ cup walnuts
2 tsp honey
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 lemon Juice

Combine yogurt, honey, nutmeg, and cinnamon in bowl. Combine apple chunks with lemon juice to prevent browning. Toss yogurt mixture with apple chunks, walnuts, dried fruit, and celery. Grapes and strawberries are optional. Serve with a hardboiled egg and some fresh veggies on a bed of lettuce.

Spinach and Warm Beetroot Salad
2 cup beetroot steamed (wedges or slices)
8 cups baby spinach
1 cup red onion (thinly sliced)
2 tomatoes (chopped)
2 tbsp olives (sliced)
2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Wash and drain spinach in a large bowl. Heat oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat and add onions. Cook until onions soften then add tomatoes, olives, parsley, garlic and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add steamed beet wedges, vinegar, salt and pepper and cook until the beets are heated through for about a minute more. Add the beet mixture to the spinach and toss to combine. Add few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice, if needed. Serve warm.

Breakfast Smoothie
10 ounces water
10 ounces organic cow's milk (or unsweetened soy or almond milk)
2 scoops protein powder
2 tsp flax oil or cod liver oil
2 tsp oat bran or flax meal
1 cup fresh or frozen fruit

Add all ingredients together and blend until smooth. You may want to add water or ice to change the texture of your smoothie. For fruits, you could choose from: Mangos, papaya, b