Today I will thoroughly enjoy grazing by the office pitch in, which consists of high fat and caloric dips, cheeses, chips, cakes and cookies. After all it is Fat Tuesday – time to celebrate! Meanwhile in New Orleans, thousands stumble into the streets to catch a buzz and a few beads while in search of a restroom which quickly gives way to an alley. What does Fat Tuesday mean to you?
Mardi Gras and its carnival-like celebrations are held for two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, or the day before Ash Wednesday, which signifies the start of the Lenten season. The celebrations, rather glutinous events, lead up to Fat Tuesday so that come Ash Wednesday, the religious can prepare for penance of sins and atonement through self-denial.
As I live in the far stretches of the North, we rarely celebrate Mardi Gras like they do down South. Typically there are a handful of traditional Louisiana style restaurants and bars that will serve up some gumbo, etouffee and Southern Comfort Hurricanes and occasionally one will fly in fresh mud bugs for a crawfish boil. I can, however, in confidence say that we Northerners know plenty of observant Christians who are preparing to atone through self-denial in the Lenten season. Ask anyone around the office, “What are you giving up for lent this year?” and most will have a detailed answer and plan of attack. As I poll those in my office, the most popular answer is fried food and alcohol. We sure are a glutinous bunch!
So how do you survive times of “Mardi Gras” then return to a life of “Lent”? Those in search of healthy living are subjected to this mental torture on a regular basis. There always seems to be a reason to celebrate; birthdays, promotions, homecomings, graduations, life achievements, and we are once again faced with times of negotiating the ok of overindulgence. “I did just get promoted, I’ve worked hard, and I should celebrate with dinner and drinks”. Who hasn’t negotiated with themselves?
As with all things enjoyable, the answer is moderation. That word is like the friend who will go to the bar whenever you want, but only drink iced tea. She’s the one holding your hair at the end of the night. Moderation is the word-version of a vacuum…sucking out all the fun. There is just no fun in moderation. But if you ask anyone who has gone on a cleanse and denied themselves ordinary food for a week, “Were you able to keep off those pounds?” the answer undoubtedly will be no because the human body does not work that way. Our bodies like consistency and balance. So try some gumbo and a Hurricane on Tuesday, just don’t eat the gumbo and etouffee and drink five Hurricanes. Make a deal with yourself…don’t deny it the fun…just don’t let the fun get away from you. And don’t forget to go for a run on Wednesday; it’s the only way to sweat out the 209 calories you’ll get from one Hurricane.Southern Comfort Hurricane (*all calories are a best guestimate based on Google research) 1 ½ oz. Southern Comfort (105 calories) 1 ½ oz. Sweet & Sour (47 calories) 1 ½ oz. Orange Juice (21 calories) 1 ½ oz. Pineapple Juice (26 calories) Splash of Grenadine (10 calories)