Healthy Living

Staying Healthy and Having Fun at Festivals

Meredith Maxwell, M.D., M.H.A.
Staying Healthy and Having Fun at Festivals

Springtime means the beginning of festival season is upon us. The hot New Orleans sun, allergies, and overindulgence can really wear you out in the spring. We share tips on how you can stay healthy and still enjoy festival season. 

What are foods to say YES to at festivals?

Say YES to:

  • Jambalaya
  • Boiled seafood
  • Crawfish etouffee
  • Red beans and rice
  • Shrimp creole
  • Any grilled options
  • Barbeque chicken
  • Seafood gumbo
  • Crawfish bread

As you may notice, many local favorites contain rice, which is energy dense. So regardless if it’s white rice or brown rice, watch the serving as both types provide the same amount of calories. To make these meals lower in calories, omit or limit the rice serving. Also, dishes that contain seafood are high in lean proteins and often include the “trinity”- celery, bell pepper and onion.

What are foods to say NO to at festivals?

Say NO to:

  • Po’boys
  • Fried seafood or chicken
  • Meat pies
  • Boudin
  • Pasta
  • Fried turkey legs

Deep fried foods like fried chicken contain the worst type of fat, trans fat, and increases your bad cholesterol (LDL) and decreases the good cholesterol (HDL). The meat used in meat pies and boudin is generally the fattiest meats and have the highest saturated fat content. These high amounts of bad fats increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

How can your curb your instincts from overindulging?

  • We recommend “going grilled” with your food choices, such as buying grilled options at Greek Fest.
    • Seafood like shrimp and crawfish are just as good grilled as they are fried.
  • You also should remember to pace yourself. Strawberry daquiris, a cold Abita, and classic New Orleans cocktails are all part of the fun, but these are long festival days.
    • Indulge in one drink for every band you see at Essence Festival
    • Celebrate unique cocktails by sipping slowly and make the drink last. Or you can share with a friend and taste a couple favorites.