Mardi Gras is special because it is a time of indulgence. Our focus shifts to parades and parties and the city swells with visitors. All of these factors can be disruptive to our wellness routines, but the good news is that there are just a few easy, highly impactful ways to stay healthy during Carnival season. Luckily, our New Orleans dietitian can help you make the right choices without compromising on having a good time.
Fried foods and alcohol beckon at this time of year, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t partake. As long as you prioritize a handful of healthful lifestyle choices in between bouts of revelry, you can have your King Cake and eat it too.
Let’s take a look at some simple but important dietary choices that will help you enjoy Mardi Gras season to the max and come out on top once Ash Wednesday rolls around.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
It may be the oldest trick in the book, but drinking water is one of the best ways to optimize your body’s functioning. Our bodies consist of roughly 70% water, and H2O is crucial to our core physical and chemical processes. Water is vital to digestion, as well as nutrient absorption and transportation. In order to reap the benefits of healthy eating, hydration is a must.
Additionally, water is a detoxifier and helps your body flush out waste. Without water, your organs can’t do their job. Especially during Mardi Gras, when we’re consuming plenty of sugar, alcohol, and processed foods, it’s important to make sure your body’s purification system is functioning at full capacity.
Water also boosts metabolism, sharpens cognitive abilities, and improves endurance. By hydrating, you can stay out longer and recover faster. When you stay on top of your water intake, you can enjoy the festivities more and have an edge when it’s time to bounce back for work on Monday morning.
Hydrating is easier than it sounds. Put down the water bottle for a bit and snack on nutritious foods with high water content. Fruits, vegetables, plain yogurt, and fish are all excellent for upping water intake. These foods have tons of health benefits and will help you reach your hydration goal of at least eight glasses of water per day.
Maximize Fruits and Veggies
The new department of health food pyramid is actually a plate – and half of it is filled up with fruits and vegetables. In addition to their hydrating qualities, fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They curb appetite, boost your immune system, and provide the nutrients your body needs.
The fiber in fruits and vegetables improves digestive health and can help lower blood sugar levels. This is why eating a whole fruit always preferable to juicing. Juicing separates fruit sugars from fiber, allowing your body to absorb them immediately. The fiber in whole fruits forces your body to break down sugar more slowly and increases feelings of fullness.
Integrate fruits and vegetables into your regular meals to balance out the delicious but nutrient-poor fare that we enjoy on festive days. This is a habit you can carry over into daily life after Mardi Gras season ends.
Here are a few of the most nutritious fruits and vegetables to prioritize in your diet:
Just one cup of this raw leafy green will cover 56% of your daily Vitamin A intake, and all of your Vitamin K intake. Spinach is also full of beta carotene and lutein, which are powerful antioxidants.
This mild, delicious green comes in many stunning colors stems, making it both tasty and fun to eat. It’s packed with essential vitamins and minerals, and one cup provides a gram of fiber, a gram of protein, and tons of vitamin A, C, and K, as well as manganese and magnesium.
This rich, creamy fruit is low in carbs and consists primarily of healthy fats, particularly oleic acid. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat that helps reduce inflammation and improves heart health. Avocados are packed with potassium, fiber, and magnesium, and are a great way to fill up on the go.
Blueberries are an antioxidant powerhouse, and provide tons of fiber, vitamin c, vitamin k, and magnanese. If you’re feeling under the weather from too many late nights, blueberries can offer an amazing immune system boost.
Apples are packed with pectin, a prebiotic fiber that nourishes the good bacteria in your gut, boosting digestion and overall metabolic health. They’re also loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium, and even offer some B vitamins as well. This classic on the go snack is perfect for tossing in your bag (or eating on the way) any day of the week.
Think of fruits and veggies as both an immediate and long-term investment in your health. Their antioxidants fight free radicals, which helps to mitigate the effects of aging and lowers your risk for disease. Their fiber content also will help you stay full and energized, making you less likely to reach for unhealthy foods out of desperation and lack of options when you’re out on the town.
Sleep It Off
Sleep improves metabolic health and lowers stress, which reduces emotional binge eating. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your metabolism will slow in order to conserve resources. Your internal sympathetic nervous system will increase levels of alertness, releasing higher levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Your body will crave high-fat and and high-carb comfort foods, which release serotonin.
If you’re sleep-deprived, levels of grehlin, a hormone that stimulates hunger, rise significantly, and leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger, decreases. Inflammation will also increases, disrupting the microbiome in your gut. The foods and drinks we consume during Mardi Gras increase inflammation, so make sure you give your body time to recover with 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
Find a New Orleans Dietitian Near You
Our nutrition coaches can help you design a plan for healthy eating based on your unique body and lifestyle. We are committed to helping you find what works and implementing changes in a sustainable, stress-free way. We’ll work with you to ensure your success during Mardi Gras and beyond! Contact us to find out how you can create a healthier, more energized life today.