Snack your way to a wedding-ready body

Looking slim is a usually a top priority for brides. They treat rice like the devil and stay away from fast food and snacks, at least until the big day. Some cut back their caloric intake to 1200 or even 1000 calories a day. But there are risks associated with crash diets. I’ve heard of brides struggling with exhaustion either during the prenup shoot or on the wedding day itself. In a couple of instances i’ve seen brides nearly faint, not from overwhelming joy but from weakness. There must be more to looking your best in that white dress than just under-eating.

I sat down with my friends from Raw Box Bites, who believe that a balanced and sustainable approach to nutrition is more beneficial for brides (and everyone else) in the long run. If you haven’t heard about them, they offer a subscription-based healthy snack box that brings the best goodies from around the world to your doorstep each month. I’ve personally tried them out, and I know that they do extensive research on the products they feature and the companies that make them. I recently had a chat with Gail, one of the owners and co-founder of Raw Bites, and I want to share the highlights of our talk so you guys can benefit from her bite-sized tips.

 Raw Bites curates healthy snacks and delivers them to your door each month! 

Raw Bites curates healthy snacks and delivers them to your door each month! 

Are carbs really that bad for you?

Not all carbs are created equal! Refined carbs like white rice are not evil, but there are better carbs out there that can provide you with more protein and micronutrients. I’m a fan of quinoa, which is high in protein, and coarser variants of rice, which are high in fibre. Carbs are important to give you energy to plan your wedding, but learn to love alternative sources. Instead of cutting rice from your diet entirely, switch to brown rice. Instead of your favorite sugary cereal, try steel cut oats in almond milk and sweeten with some fresh frozen berries.

My take? You know that a lot of what we eat isn’t the best choice, but you end up choosing it anyway. I think this is mostly out of habit. Decades of living at your parents’ house have ingrained in you a habit of buying and eating the wrong kind of food. It’s going to take a conscious effort, but now is the best time to make the right choices. You need to harness the power of habit and genuinely enjoy healthier food so it becomes part of your new day-to-day.

 Strawberries aren’t just yummy, they’re great for your skin and immune system too! 

Strawberries aren’t just yummy, they’re great for your skin and immune system too! 

How do you achieve that coveted bridal glow?

Here are Raw Bites’ top picks for the best bridal munchies.

  1. Carrots for their beta-carotene, which supports good vision, immunity, and healthy skin. Cook them first! Cooked carrots have more available beta-carotene for your body to use.
  2. Salmon for its fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and ageing. This is super easy to cook or bake, and tasty too!
  3. Flax Seed Oil also assists in decreasing the body’s inflammation. This can be easily added to your favorite salad or smoothie.
  4. Strawberries have over 100% of your daily recommended dose of Vitamin C, which, among other things, aids in the production of collagen.
  5. Avocado has Vitamin E and antioxidants and should be a staple in any diet if you want to have great skin. Avocado and eggs in the morning are easier to make than you think.
  6. Cacao is filled with antioxidants and increases blood circulation in the body for up to 2 hours after consuming it, so that’s instant glow. Make sure you eat products with real cacao and avoid most of the popular chocolate bars and snacks—which have very little to no cacao in them. Cacao nibs are now easy to find; add them to your cereal or just put a few pieces in a resealable plastic for an afternoon pick-me-up.
 Yes, chocolate is good for you! But still, consume in moderation. 

Yes, chocolate is good for you! But still, consume in moderation. 

Intermittent fasting is currently a trend. Based on your research, what’s the ideal feeding window? How does a snacking habit fit in a healthy lifestyle?

To be honest, the optimal timing of eating depends on the individual. I eat every 3 or 4 hours because if I don’t, I become “hangry” and my tendency is to grab the most convenient food in sight, which is most likely fast food or chips. I also end up feeling sluggish after I overfeed myself so I prefer to eat small meals throughout the day. Meanwhile my partner, Jane, tends to only eat two meals a day. I also know other individuals who skip breakfast and yet they’re still healthy.

I think the key to eating healthy is controlled caloric intake and maximizing the nutrition those calories bring with them. Controlling calories is a matter of following these simple rules: Calorie intake > energy spent = weight gain and calorie intake < energy spent = weight loss. Maximizing nutrition is also important. A 100 kcal orange vs a 100kcal of ice cream won’t give you the same nutrition since oranges provide a high dose of Vitamin C and fibre, whereas ice cream will just give you a sugar spike.

Based on my own experimentation, diets and exercise regimens only work if they fit your daily routine. I’ve been doing “intermittent fasting”, eating only from noon until 8pm (sometimes 6pm), because mornings at our house are crazy hectic, and my dinners are usually at a hotel or catered event—so i “save up” my calorie budget for the good stuff that are hard to turn down.

Any popular myths about health and nutrition that you'd like to bust?

 Fresh is best! But frozen can be just as nutritious.  

Fresh is best! But frozen can be just as nutritious.  

Oh yeah, there’s actually a couple. Before Raw Bites, I was working for an FMCG company in Canada and one of our main lines of business is canned and/or frozen veggies. Contrary to popular belief, frozen or canned fruits and veggies are not less nutritious than fresh ones. Take advantage of fresh produce when you can but in countries like the Philippines, fresh berries aren’t readily available. Frozen berries are okay. Canned corn is also just as nutritious as fresh corn. It’s also cost efficient because it saves you prep time!

I also don’t believe in fad diets. The best diet really depends on the individual. I’ve personally tried a few fad diets before and I never lasted a day because they didn’t fit my lifestyle. The reason why they work for a lot of people, especially at the start, is reduced caloric intake. Any diet that deprives you of something (in some cases, whole food groups or an entire macronutrient!) will naturally make you lose weight because you’re eating less calories.

My eating mantra is “anything in moderation”. Although I admit that rice and fast food are not the healthiest of all, I believe that it’s better than starving yourself since you’ll end up breaking and binging on something else, then just feel guilty about it after. It’s a vicious cycle.

What's the best wedding day (or prenup shoot) snack for the bride and groom?

Avoid kale chips at all cost! Although very nutritious, these super leaves love getting stuck in between teeth. I also suggest snacking on something that won’t touch your lipstick. A perfect example would be, instead of munching on fresh strawberries, try The Giving Tree freeze dried strawberries. All of our freeze dried or vacuum fried products from The Giving Tree melt in your mouth so just pop them in, savor the taste, and get a burst of energy for your big day.

It was a productive chat with the folks from Raw Bites, as they validated many of my own beliefs about nutrition and taught me new things along the way. And just so you guys know, although they’re not doctors or food scientists, Raw Bites does a ton of research to vet everything that they put in their boxes. Gail and Jane wholeheartedly believe in the products they carry. And their advice for brides carries extra weight; Gail herself just got married!

 Gail and Vince on their wedding day.&nbsp;

Gail and Vince on their wedding day. 

I’m a fan of these guys, both for their entrepreneurial savvy and their dedication to health and wellness. I’ve enjoyed their products, and I think you will too. If you’ve got a minute, visit their website. Raw Bites is giving 200 PESOS OFF your first box, just enter the promo code JCXRAW200 upon checkout. Feel free to tell your friends!

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One of Raw Bites’ best-selling boxes!