I was nervous about traveling to New Orleans last weekend because I knew that we would be over-eating incredibly rich food and whenever I get together with my college friends, we tend to have one too many cocktails.
I made a vow to myself before our trip, that I would try to treat my body with respect and feed it the nutrients it would need to get me through 5 days of craziness. I ended up doing way better than I thought I would so I thought I’d share my tips on how to stay healthy in an unhealthy city.
Tip 1: Make the Right Choices
On the night we arrived, we had dinner for 8 at Cochon Restaurant, a local hot spot with a twist on Cajun food. While my friends ordered rabbit dumplings, cheese grits, and fried gator, I stuck to an arugula salad and had a perfectly-spiced grilled fish as my main course. I tried a bite of everything so that I didn’t feel like I was missing out, but I left the dinner not feeling too stuffed while they were all complaining about over-eating. Night one, success (now if only I hadn’t had so many glasses of wine).
At brunch on Friday, I ordered grilled fish tacos at Atchafalaya which fueled me up with protein but didn’t have any of the extra heaviness. It was perfect, full of flavor, and not too filling. While everyone else was drinking at the brunch and throughout the day, I knew that if I took-part, I would not be feeling great for the rehearsal dinner, so I steered clear of the alcohol. I still had so much fun but didn’t need to be drunk to do it. Is this called growing up?
On Friday night, the rehearsal dinner was at Luke, a famous John Besch restaurant. I was adamant that I would be bright-eyed and chipper for the wedding the next day, so I again stuck with a salad and fish for dinner with only one glass of wine followed by a traditional New Orleans Sazerac as my splurge at the gorgeous Sazerac Bar in the French Quarter. It’s all about that balance!
Tip 2: Fuel Your Body with Greens
Friday morning I woke up with a mild hangover because I’m a huge wuss like that. On the way to brunch that morning, I looked on Yelp for green juice and discovered The Pressery, a juice spot on Magazine street with the most gorgeous ambience and bottle design (I’m a sucker for glass bottles). I picked up a few green juices and immediately downed a coconut water with chia seeds to help rehydrate my body given the hangover and the humid weather.
I later discovered Pulp & Grind, a coffee and juice place near our hotel which had pre-made juices that I sipped on every day on the trip to ensure my body was getting the greens it was craving. I bought 3 bottles on the wedding day to drink while we were getting our hair and make up done for the big event.
For those times when I just can’t find the real thing, I always keep an emergency stash of green powder on hand. My go-to these days is ALOHA’s Daily Good Greens.
Tip 3: Know Your Limits
I always want to drink more when I’m with my college friends, and it’s inevitable that I’ll over-indulge at least once. I also know, however, that I’m not used to consuming large amounts of alcohol very often so I have to slow down, even if I want to party like I’m 21 again in the moment. For me, that means 2 large glasses of water between each cocktail and sticking to one liquor (vodka sodas are my go-to).
I also know that because of my insomnia, I have to be in bed before midnight in order to not be a zombie the next day. No amount of fun is worth a full day of feeling like crap.
After walking around the city and exploring different neighborhoods on Sunday, my body was telling me to slow down so I spent 2 hours lounging around by my friend’s pool, and felt reinvigorated for dinner. Taking it easy on booze, going to bed early, and relaxing when I needed to helped me survive the rest of the trip.
Tip 4: Work It Out
Just because you’re on vacation, it doesn’t mean that your exercise regimen needs to suffer. Of course you don’t have to be hitting the gym every day, but I always try to make an effort to move my body in more ways than just walking around. On Saturday morning before the wedding, my friend and I hit up an early morning hot Vinyasa flow class at Reyn Studios, a super cool space in a reclaimed warehouse with a wall of windows and beautiful light. It reminded me how much I love yoga and how much I miss my practice. I can’t believe it took me going to New Orleans to get back on yoga-track! That 90 minutes of stretching and sweating set me up for a day of feeling great in my own skin.
Tip 5: Make Exceptions for Local Cuisine
At the end of the day, there were a few things that I knew I wanted to try in NOLA. I had to have a famous beignet at Cafe du Monde but didn’t eat a full order of 3 donuts (ugh). I definitely had to partake in the day-after-the-wedding crawfish boil (as per the stunningly beautiful photo above of me and my friend Cynthia) I knew that I wanted to try a fried boudin ball, but I ate half of one and decided that it was quite enough. I reluctantly tried Cracklin’ (friend pig skin) and luckily didn’t like it. Just because you’re in a place with arguably the most amazing fried food in the world, that doesn’t mean you need to indulge on it at every meal. Pick and choose your battles.
What are your healthy travel tips?