King cake season! It’s in full swing here in Louisiana. Stacks of those colorful, tell-tale boxes are front and center in every grocery store and bakery across our great state, and they show up in office break rooms on a near daily basis. No doubt about it, king cake is an indulgence that Louisianians love and one that is also hard to avoid. It’s just one of the factors that makes this time of year particularly difficult for those attempting to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. In addition, there are gatherings with amazing food and balls and parades with free-flowing alcohol. Add to the mix the fact that this year’s Mardi Gras falls just over a week behind Valentine’s Day and it’s a virtual minefield of temptation. So, how can you enjoy this holiday season without getting too far off track from your commitment to health? Here are a few tips to help you through!
Keep Portions Small and Savor Every Bite
You don’t have to completely ignore king cake or the many other culinary delights that surround you this time of year. You simply have to be smart about your consumption of them. Keep portions of the delicious (albeit less than healthy) stuff small and eat slowly. Focus on the flavor of each bite, and limit your indulgences to only a handful of times throughout the season, versus every day or multiple times per week.
Drink More Water Throughout the Day
The body functions best when it’s hydrated. Drinking at least the recommended eight glasses of water per day helps keep you healthy and all your body’s processes running smoothly. It also has the benefit of helping you feel full. You’re less likely to overeat when you’re hydrated, especially because our brains often confuse thirst signals for hunger pangs.
Limit Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol is okay in moderation, but too much can lead to problems such as inflammation and weight gain. Furthermore, over consumption of alcohol is a risk factor linked to many chronic illnesses, including heart disease. Just as with food, moderation is key to still enjoying alcohol in a healthy way.
Maintain Your Fitness Routine
Anytime our schedule changes, whether we’re on vacation or attending parades, it can be easy to slip out of our usual habits. Oftentimes, our workouts are the first to go. By making an effort to maintain your current fitness routine despite changes in your schedule, you can help keep your health goals grounded and top of mind. When you prioritize fitness, you’ll be more like to prioritize other important areas as well, like making healthy dietary choices.
Laissez les bon temps rouler this Mardi Gras but do so in a way that doesn’t completely sideline all your hard work. You can have your king cake and eat it too, as long as you use a little moderation and focus on maintaining the healthy habits you’ve already developed.