Can You Les Bons Temps Rouler with Resolutions?
How to stick to your diet on your New Orleans vacation
It’s a new year and you are about to take your dream vacation to New Orleans! You’re boarding passes are printed and your swamp tour is booked. The music! The architecture! The food! Wait. The food? How are you going to stick to your New Year’s resolution to lose weight on a vacation in NOLA? Here are a few suggestions to help you mindfully indulge.
There’s no getting around it. New Orleans is a city that lives to eat. We celebrate everything with a special food. Carnival season begins officially on Jan. 6 and I know people who ordered their King Cakes three weeks ago. When you are visiting New Orleans, especially for the first time, the temptation is to eat everything. If you also want to improve your health and stick to a diet, moderation is the key.
Thankfully, grilled boneless skinless chicken breast is not your only option here. We glory in our fresh seafood, and because it’s so fresh, it doesn’t have to be fried to taste delicious. Grilled redfish or black drum are delightful options, just be sure to ask your waiter to request the chef use minimal butter and maybe put some of that burre blanc or amandine on the side.
It’s also the start of crawfish season. Boiled seafood is low in calories, if heavy on sodium. Don’t be afraid to order boiled seafood (crawfish, shrimp or crab) and ask your server if they can give you a lesson in head twisting and shell ripping. Eat the boiled corn and maybe one potato, but avoid the sausage to cut down on calories.
If you feel you can’t go home without trying one of our poor boys or muffulettas, you have a few options. With poor boys, choose the grilled shrimp or grilled chicken and order it “dressed but with mayo on the side, please.” This will get you the lettuce, tomato and pickles, but you can control the condiments. As for our rotund ode to processed meats, the muffuletta can’t really be trimmed down. It can only be shared. A little goes a long way so split one between a few people. If you are traveling solo, don’t feel guilty if you have to throw part of it away. Just don’t do it in front of the people who worked to make it for you.
Gumbo. You have to. It’s manna. Order a cup instead of a bowl and savor every bite. Red beans rice – same, but skip the sausage.
Dessert gets tricky. Beignets can be ordered without the powdered sugar at Café Du Monde and at Morning Call that’s how they come and you add your own sugar. The café au lait is made with full fat milk, so watch out for that too. King cake must be sampled this time of year and it’s usually so sweet that a few bites should satiate. Bananas Foster and bread pudding are also very shareable.
If you plan to imbibe on your vacation, moderation is key here too. I’m telling you now, unless it’s 90 degrees outside, you can skip the daiquiris and frozen Irish coffees this time of year. They are delicious sugar bombs with questionable ingredients. Just avoid them on this trip if you really want to make healthy choices.
Our other infamous cocktails are hit and miss when it comes to calories. A Sazerac has a bit of sugar and is worth it, while a Hurricane just isn’t. A Ramos Gin Fizz is delightful, but again, it has egg white, cream and sugar in it.
Instead, you’ll be better off ordering something like a vodka soda with lime. Have one or two, then transition to just soda with lime. Your companions don’t have to know you stopped drinking and you may feel more comfortable still having a cup in your hand.
If you are a beer drinker and want to try something local, look for Abita Light. It’s 118 calories and 8 carbs per serving. It beats the other American light beers hands down in flavor.
You’re on vacation. Of course you are going to indulge in the food and beverage department. Balance those choices with movement. Odds are you will be doing more walking on this trip than you typically do, and those steps will add up. A walking tour of the French Quarter, wandering our museums and taking a stroll beneath the Live Oaks at Audubon Park are all relaxing ways to see New Orleans while you burn a few calories.
For those with specific exercise goals, take advantage of your hotel gym or use the Wi-Fi at your vacation rental to stream workout videos. Runners may want to contact the New Orleans Track Club for outdoor route suggestions that go beyond the loop at Audubon Park or around the Big Lake at City Park. If you’re a group fitness junkie, New Orleans now participates in Class Pass and you can check out a variety of studios during your visit.
The best way to burn calories in NOLA is by dancing. Whether it’s a cover band on Bourbon Street or Grammy-winners on Frenchman, our musicians are some of the most talented in the world. They appreciate people dancing in front of the stage instead of sitting at the bar. Some of them even jump off the stage to dance with you. So burn off those beignets by boogieing the night away.