With the start of the new year, most people try to stick to resolutions of eating less sugar, drinking less alcohol or just being healthier in general.
Then, Mardi Gras season hits.
It becomes almost impossible to avoid the king cakes in the office kitchen, the king cakes at parties, the king cakes blocking your path in the grocery store. Then there are all the Mardi Gras balls, the parades, the partying and All. That. Booze.
Assistant Professor John Apolzan, director of clinical nutrition and metabolism at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, acknowledges that it’s difficult when temptation is all around. But he says self control is the key.
“We often tell people ‘everything in moderation’ in king cake, alcohol, etc.—not to eliminate things completely,” Apolzan says. “Consume in moderation. As long as you have a plan for your energy intake, whatever you consume should be in moderation.”
Apolzan suggests taking smaller slices of king cake for a start. He also says you should try to counteract the added sweets by ramping up your healthy food intake the rest of the day. This is where that adherence to a balanced diet comes in handy: make sure you’re getting the appropriate amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and nuts.
And don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that fruit filling takes the place of a serving of fruit. It’s still wrapped in dough and sugary icing, Apolzan says.
Alcohol consumption in general requires self control and moderation. But when it comes to long parade days or Mardi Gras balls that go into the evening, Apolzan suggests incorporating glasses of water between drinks. Maybe even keep a bottle of water at arm’s reach all night.
Water is known to temporarily increase metabolism, and by drinking water about a half hour before a meal, you eat fewer calories. Similarly, alcohol is oxidized as a fat, Apolzan says.
“[Alcohol is] essentially like consuming any other food. It’s seven calories per gram, and your body is going to utilize it as such,” Apolzan says. “It’s going to be metabolized and turned into fat just like anything else.”
Water between cocktails or beers will also go a long way toward preventing that awful hangover in the morning, too.
So, besides grabbing plenty of beads this Carnival season, be sure to grab plenty of water and healthy snacks to help counteract all that Mardi Gras revelry.