Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.
Springtime in New Orleans means festival season is here! It is a chance to experience some of New Orleans’ best music, art and food as well as the lovely weather. However, this season can take a toll on your health and body. There are plenty of ways to maximize your fun by knowing what to expect and by making healthy decisions. Below are a few dos and don’ts for festival season.
How-To Not Overindulge in Food and Drinks
There are often many temptations at festivals including lots of heavy and salty foods, sugary drinks and alcohol. Some of the more popular food dishes include bread pudding, fried catfish and beignets. While these may sound tempting, this fare is typically laden with fat and sugar and you often end the day feeling overindulged and tired.
Certain foods to avoid include the deep-fried foods and fatty meats. Fried foods such as fried chicken contain the worst type of fat, called trans-fat. Unlike other dietary fats, trans-fatty acids both raises your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (“good”) cholesterol. The meat found in meat pies and boudin generally contain a high saturated fat content, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. You may also notice many of the local favorites contain rice, which is energy dense. Both white and brown rice contain similar calorie, protein and carbohydrate content; however, brown rice tends to have more fiber and minerals such as magnesium and zinc. Therefore, you may want to opt for brown rice or omit the rice serving altogether. Also, try sticking to healthier options including dishes that contain seafood as they are high in lean proteins and often include the “holy trinity of Cajun cooking”- celery, bell pepper and onion. Below are some of the healthier food options at festivals:
- Boiled seafood
- Crawfish etouffee
- Red beans and rice
- Shrimp Creole
- Any grilled options
- Barbeque chicken
- Seafood gumbo
Staying hydrated during festival season is of the utmost importance. In fact, one of the top conditions seen in medical tents during festival season is dehydration. It can be easy to forget to drink until you suddenly feel a pang of thirst, but thirst is a sign that you’re already dehydrated. The key to drinking water is to sip early and sip often. So, start the day with a big glass of water and try to limit sugary drinks, soft drinks, caffeine and, of course, alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption along with the heat can leave you feeling fatigued or even worse, feeling ill. If you are really craving a cocktail, a good tactic is to alternate an alcoholic beverage with a full glass of water. You don’t want your festival season to be derailed by dehydration. And, of course, indulging in just one fried seafood po-boy or having just one cocktail will not alter your healthy eating habits. So, remember to keep things in moderation and have fun!
How-To Prepare for NOLA Festivals
Many New Orleanians love to bring their kids to festivals to join in the fun! However, it’s important to keep in mind the large crowds, heat and loud noise. Whether it’s keeping track of your kids or your friends, you should have an emergency plan. Below you’ll find a basic list of items to bring with you:
- Pack a contact card that has your phone numbers, the address of where you’re staying, and meeting spot in case you get separated from the group, or just want to see different bands for the afternoon.
- A wallet with your ID, spending cash and a backup card is always a good idea.
- Advil, allergy meds, and any prescriptions are a must.
- Hand sanitizer are great a way to avoid germs throughout the day. You can use it before you eat or use the portlet.
- Have Band-Aids and some sort of antiseptic in case of a minor injury.
- Sunglasses, high SPF sunscreen, and Chapstick with SPF as well.
- Ziploc bag to protect your phone from rain.
- Noise canceling headphones for babies and young children to protect their sensitive ears and help keep them calm
About Jennifer Driver
Jennifer Driver was born and raised in New Orleans. For undergrad, she attended University of New Orleans where she majored in biology. After college, she spent a couple of years dabbling in research and received both a Master of Science in Pharmacology and her MD from Tulane. She loves Family Medicine for its breadth of scope of practice, emphasis on prevention, and continuity of care. She is currently a Family Medicine Physician for Crescent City Physicians, Inc.