As we lean further into “Deep Gras,” as Wednesday through Mardi Gras day has come to be known, you likely aren’t yet thinking about Lenten sacrifices. That said, by the time Ash Wednesday rolls around, Catholic or not, most Louisianians are ready to take a booze break for a least a week or so, if not 46 days. If that’s you, consider signing up for the Ochsner Eat Fit #AlcoholFreeFor40 Challenge. (Disclosure: I’m an unpaid partner via one of my labors of love, Drink Fit Club. I don’t get anything monetary or otherwise if you sign up. I just really believe in this program.)

This free challenge was launched in 2016 by registered dietician and Eat Fit founder and director Molly Kimball. Participants get support, encouragement, an active Facebook community, events and — for those in Louisiana — in-depth pre- and post-challenge metrics including labs, body composition analysis, weight, blood pressure and before-and-after photos to measure the physical changes. (Note there is a $35 fee for metrics or you can do the challenge free without that element.)

As long-term Bon Vivant readers know, I participated in the inaugural challenge and then again in 2020. The 2020 installment ended up being the catalyst for me to ultimately go alcohol free at the beginning of July that year. (I hit 600 days dry on Thursday. I’m more surprised to write that than you are to read it.) For those who decide to pay for metrics, don’t be too hard on yourself if your liver enzymes are abnormally high. Your poor liver has been working overtime throughout Carnival season. You’ll be shocked at how soon those numbers right themselves. This is one of the many benefits of taking a break. Expect also to sleep better, have more energy, perhaps lose a few pounds, see your skin clear up and maybe even glow up and enjoy a host of physical and mental health improvements that vary according to how much you were letting the good times roll this season. And possibly before that too — no judgement though, because your girl here was a pro-level drinker until 2020, so I get it!

If you are wondering what to do with your hands for 46 days and nights, check out my list of alcohol free beer, wine and spirits recommendations, along with links to online sellers and local purveyors. (I’m not a paid partner or affiliate of any of the brands or companies mentioned. These are simply my favorite NA beverages.) This is also a great time to explore hobbies old and new, connect with friends over coffee, tea or neighborhood walks, amp up your exercise and nutrition or just sit back and relax for a bit. You haven’t had Carnival in two years, so you could probably use a little R-and-R once it’s over.


Meanwhile, have a safe, fun-filled Deep Gras. I’ll see you out on the route!


If you want to tell Melanie how absurd it sounds for her to be alcohol free in New Orleans or trade Deep Gras survival tips, email