Mardi Gras: Mardi being French for “Tuesday” and Gras being French for “fat,” literally translates to “Fat Tuesday” which is meant to be celebrated as a feast upon the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual of fasting in the Lenten season begins. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is not only a celebration, but an art form. From the marching bands and floats to the throws and the dancers, we know how to carnival and eat our King Cake week after week!
Throwing our new year’s resolutions right out the door, this begs the question: How does one have a healthy Mardi Gras season during a time that focuses so much on the rich delicacies? Here are some tips to keep in mind!
- Pack your own snacks. You never know when you might get a craving for something along the parade route. Carrying snacks that are nutrient-dense such as trail mix, granola bars, and fruit are light snacks that offer fiber to help keep you full and energized to catch all the throws!
- Drink more water. Whether you are indulging in alcoholic or non-alcoholic sweetened beverages or not, alternating between water will help to keep you hydrated and minimize your intake of these high caloric beverages.
- Savor each bite and be more mindful. It takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to send the signal that it is full. It is easy for us to want to overindulge, so be mindful of your portion and take time to enjoy the flavor of that king cake, daiquiri, or sweet.
- Get Moving. Plan to walk or bike to the parade route! This way you can get some exercise in as well as avoid the stress of trying to drive around the blocked streets. Take advantage of the city’s Blue Bikes! You can also dance along the parade route to the music from the marching bands and jump up and down for throws! Catch all the coconuts, purses, shoes, or beads while burning calories, aiding digestion and stabilizing your blood sugars.
- Lose the guilt. Mardi Gras is such a joyous time that it should be celebrated, not dreaded. If you do end up eating or drinking more than planned, the most important thing is that you try to get back into your healthy eating habits as soon as possible.
Here is one of my favorite parade snack recipes. Popcorn is a whole grain with only 30 calories per cup popped. I mix it in with dried fruit, chocolate, and nuts for a sweet but satisfying treat with protein and fiber!
Poppin' Trail Mix
- 3 cups popcorn
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- 2 cups lightly salted almonds
- 1 cup dried craisins or raisins
- 2 cups dried mango
1. Melt 1/2 chocolate chips in the microwave
2. On a lined baking sheet, drizzle popcorn with chocolate and chia seeds. Let dry for 15 - 20 minutes.
3. Once dry, in a bowl, mix all ingredients (including the remaining chocolate chips) together. Store in airtight container or ziplock bags.
Devin Brittain is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist in the state of Louisiana. Born and raised in California, Devin obtained her Bachelors of Science in Food and Nutritional Sciences with an emphasis in Dietetics and Food Administration from California State University, Fresno. She then moved to Louisiana and completed her Dietetic Internship at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Devin is currently the Outpatient Dietitian for the Cancer Center at West Jefferson Medical Center where she assists patients and teaches healthy cooking classes. She is serving on the board for the New Orleans Dietetic Association where she strongly advocates for the dietetic profession and the health of her community. In her free time, Devin enjoys attending festivals, reading, developing recipes, dancing, and cheering on the Saints! She is passionate about utilizing her food and nutrition knowledge to benefit others and believes in finding innovative ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle that works for each individual.