Nov 7, 201209:57 AM
Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer
Eating Healthy in New Orleans
I was going to write about the elections, but I decided we've heard enough about that, and I'm actually pretty excited that the constant election coverage and annoying campaign ads are going to end. So for today's post, I thought it would be good to talk about something Democrats and Republicans can both agree on: eating.
My apartment complex has recently started sending out a newsletter that includes events happening around New Orleans. One of the events featured in the latest newsletter was the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival happening on Nov. 18.
“This sounds great!” I thought to myself. "Oak Street is a fun street and po-boys are delicious. How could this festival be bad?"
But then my girl mind piped in, the one that questions everything I eat and the one that loves to read about Jessica Simpson’s latest weight loss adventures. “More po-boys?” girl mind asked. “More white bread topped with fried food? That can’t be good for your waistline.”
This internal struggle brings me to my latest question about New Orleans: Is it possible to enjoy New Orleans cuisine and its culture while worrying about your waistline? And if not, is that okay?
The food in New Orleans is something I’ve both enjoyed and stressed about since moving here. In a city known for its cuisine and nightlife, there are temptations everywhere. There are the beignets at Café Du Monde, the alligator sausage at the Saints games and that tasty remoulade sauce that turns up just about everywhere. While there are temptations in every city, the love of eating seems to be amplified in New Orleans. Locals and tourists alike love to drink and be merry while enjoying the dishes from the city's world-famous chefs.
I’ve been trying to find a healthy balance here, but as a girl, I’m always thinking about losing weight and finding new ways to do so. Does eating po-boys regularly fit into this way of thinking? Not really, but I feel like it's a waste to live in New Orleans and not eat the delicious cuisine the city is famous for. However, when I indulge too much, and I feel myself gaining weight, my girl mind kicks in and makes me say things like, "I need to stop drinking wine." "I can't have that ice cream from Creole Creamery." “I think I’m just going to eat celery tomorrow.” I know these comments are annoying to the people around me and they don't really accomplish anything.
In an effort to find a balance in the Big Easy, I've been doing some brainstorming and research. I've decided to share my plan with you all, in case you, too, struggle with a healthy lifestyle while enjoying New Orleans' cuisine and appreciation of booze. Keep in mind that I don’t want this blog post to sound like New Orleans’ food is completely bad for you. We are lucky to live in a city where chefs love to use lots of fresh and local ingredients, but we can all get a little more exercise every now and then, or maybe have one less beignet. I also want you to keep in mind that I'm not a certified nutritionist (although, I did grow up with a health teacher for a mom so I learned about food portions and food labels younger than most).
So using my non-scientific method, I have come up with four tactics I'm going to try to stick to so I can feel better about myself while enjoying New Orleans' myriad of tasty treats:
1. I'm going to enjoy fresh veggies as much as I can. We all know how to eat healthy—eat lots of veggies, use the appropriate portion size, drink lots of water—but it's nice to have a reminder or two. A good resource I found is a blog post from Kimberly Snyder, a nutritionist and author of The Beauty Detox Solution. She spent some time in New Orleans and writes that it’s not any harder to eat healthy in New Orleans than it is in Los Angeles, a city known for having lots of healthy options. Snyder recommends looking for restaurants that tend to have good salads and plenty of produce. Her thoughts aren't new ideas, but sometimes reading a few food tips is enough inspiration to get back on the healthy wagon.
2. I'm going to look for New Orleans activities that don't involve food. In addition to looking for healthy food options, I’ve also been looking for some activities in New Orleans that don’t revolve around food and drinking. Chris and I went to the National World War II Museum over the weekend, which was fantastic. I still haven’t been to the New Orleans Museum of Art or the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, but I hope to do so soon. I am also thinking of signing up for a half-marathon or one of the many road races Louisiana has to offer.
3. I'm going to keep attending my gym. I bought a gym membership about a month ago. While it's a little pricey, I think it was a good investment. The gym has also turned out to be a good place to meet people and it has given me a sense of belonging in a city where I still feel a little bit like an out-of-towner.
4. I'm going to eat that po-boy if I really want it. I think it's important to splurge occasionally. Just think of Parisian women. When I was studying abroad in Paris, I learned that it is true that French women tend to be trim. For the most part, they eat a lot of protein and produce, but they also don't feel guilty about having a pastry every so often. This method of thinking can be applied to New Orleans. Life is too short to miss out on po-boys.