Fat Tuesday…


This week’s column was written by my friend Dr. J (yes, a real doctor) over at www.calorielab.com.   This week Dr. J shares his thoughts on Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday — or Transfat Tuesday as I prefer to call it. 

I once lived near New Orleans, and attended a Mardi Gras there in 1986 – it didn’t really enjoy it, and it fell much below the high expectations of my young imagination.  Excess is never good, especially when it is done excessively. Please take time to read Dr. J’s column, and please pass it along to others.  Thank you.  roy

 Fat Tuesday

by Dr. J

While in the last year of my surgical residency, during a frigid February in the Midwest, I was graced with a one week vacation. My best friend and I formulated a complicated plan, drive south until we found warm weather! Finally getting the car started in the sub zero temperatures we were off. When we reached Gulfport, Mississippi, we decided to make a right hand turn and soon found ourselves in the warmth of New Orleans and discovered they were celebrating Mardi Gras!

After the better part of a week around http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beignet beignets, booze, and beads, we managed to extricate ourselves from too much fun, click our surgical clogs together three times, and somehow we were once again in that knee deep Midwestern snow!

Mardi Gras:

The origins of Mardi Gras, or more affectionately translated as Fat Tuesday, http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/MardiGras/ traces its name and origins from Catholic roots and the feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival as people were preparing for the abstinence of Lent. http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/MardiGras/

Mardi Gras and fitness:

I wouldn’t say the folks at Mardi Gras were the fittest folks I’d ever seen, but then, it’s hard to hide much when all you are wearing is a few strings of beads. Still they didn’t look too bad, and as doctors, we were used to seeing a lot of skin. I wasn’t at Mardi Gras this year, but studies http://www.allbusiness.com/medicine-health/diseases-disorders-obesity/13599664-1.html  show that since 1990, the prevalence of obesity in Louisiana has increased by at least 135 percent, and it’s not the beads that are getting larger! Actually, Louisiana http://calorielab.com/news/2008/07/02/fattest-states-2008/ has one of the largest rates of overweight and obese individuals in the country, with New Orleans one of the leading cities in this unhealthy statistic. What is even more unsettling is that these rates in children is these areas rank in the top ten nationally and are increasing. http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/07/mississippi_has_highest_rate_o.html  

New Orleans and food:

Even though in this years Super bowl, the Colts were the favored team, in a food war between the two participating cities, Indianapolis and New Orleans, there was no contest. The wide variety of New Orleans cuisine was an easy favorite over the bland casseroles of the Midwest. Really, few cities can compete with New Orleans in the food court!

Although the origins of the cuisine in the French Quarter is, well, French, the so-called French paradox http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Paradox does not seem to be valid in New Orleans. The reason for this is likely that even though the origin of the food is French, it has been changed to the all-American style of increased portion sizes with even more fat, sugar, and salt than the original recipes called for to suit the ever gluttonous American palate.

Too much food, not enough activity:

Although Mardi Gras is officially a two to three week holiday http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Orleans_Mardi_Gras#Contemporary_Mardi_Gras, eating like it’s Mardi Gras has become an all year round event! The only realistic answer http://nutrition.about.com/od/foodfun/a/obese_overweigh.htm is to eat less unhealthy food, eat fewer calories, eat more healthful food, and to be more active. Perhaps concrete ideas such as choose smaller portions, don’t eat seconds, avoid buffets, eat out less and eat more at home. Make your own meals, shop for healthy food choices and stock your home with these healthy foods. In addition, develop a personal exercise program. All of these ideas can be helpful if you are willing to apply them.

It’s very important, if you haven’t already, to make these types of changes. After all, the only thing we want to be fat is a time of celebration, and maybe a calf!

Dr. J

16 responses

  1. Very interesting. I’m pretty proud of myself for staying away from those stupid patzki’s this year. In years past I could easily put several away.

    I’m now at the point where I dislike holidays that encourage eating unhealthy foods in excess. Well, maybe it’s not the holiday but the foods. I’m not sure.

    Good post.

  2. Roy, thx so much for bringing Dr. J here! He will visit my blog tomorrow! Yahoo!

    Dr, J, this: eat less unhealthy food, eat fewer calories, eat more healthful food, and to be more active. Perhaps concrete ideas such as choose smaller portions, don’t eat seconds, avoid buffets, eat out less and eat more at home. Make your own meals, shop for healthy food choices and stock your home with these healthy foods. In addition, develop a personal exercise program. All of these ideas can be helpful if you are willing to apply them.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm, what a novel idea! :-)

    And they sure seem to drink a lot at Mardi Gras along with eating & showing too much! :-)

    Great post. Now I must click my workouts shoes 3 times & get some sleep!

  3. I love New Orleans and the food–but if I lived there I’d have to take a whole different approach than I do as an occasional tourist. I love beignets and crawfish etouffee, (though I’m probably spelling both wrong), but those would have to be rare treats and not frequent occurrences.

    And the less said about Hurricanes the better.

  4. Those statistics on the obesity rates in Louisiana are amazing. We are in Tennessee and the obesity rates here are embarassing.

    Great practical tips at the end of your column Dr. J. Thanks for the information and for pointing me to Roy’s blog!

  5. I’d first like to thank Roy, for his generosity in allowing me to post on his web site! I hope those of you who are here for the first time will continue to visit, as I do, and read Roy’s interesting and thought provoking writings on life, health, and fitness.

    Anonfatgirl!

    We are proud of you too! I think I stay away from those things also, at least from what you say, I hope I do :-)
    I agree with you about how the focus of holidays has seemed to change. I do think each of has the opportunity with our family and friends to get back to the real meaning of “Christmas,” so to speak. Thank you!

    Jody!

    Thank you! You are right about the drinking! I guess you know I don’t drink alcohol, but I still had a great time at Mardi Gras. Probably being with a good friend, and being warm had a lot to do with that :-)

    Crabby!

    You are right about New Orleans! I’ve been there at other times since that first time, but nothing was quite like the first!

    Vered!

    Thank you! I agree with you about the importance of portion control.

  6. First I’d like to thank Roy, for his generosity in allowing me to post on his web site! I hope those of you who are here for the first time will continue to visit, as I do, and read Roy’s interesting and thought provoking writings on life, health, and fitness.

    Anonfatgirl!

    We are proud of you too! I think I stay away from those things also, at least from what you say, I hope I do :-)
    I agree with you about how the focus of holidays has seemed to change. I do think each of has the opportunity with our family and friends to get back to the real meaning of “Christmas,” so to speak. Thank you!

    Jody!

    Thank you! You are right about the drinking! I guess you know I don’t drink alcohol, but I still had a great time at Mardi Gras. Probably being with a good friend, and being warm had a lot to do with that :-)

    Crabby!

    You are right about New Orleans! I’ve been there at other times since that first time, but nothing was quite like the first!

    Vered!

    Thank you! I agree with you about the importance of portion control.

  7. For sure one of the scariest changes happening around the world is that as we are all being able to try out new cuisines, we’re ALSO altering them to be Americanized! No food is healthy once it’s three or four times as big as it should be, or fried, or coated in sugar, etc etc. And we’ve also adopted the American relationship with food- if we can change the way we VIEW food, we’d be much healthier people for it!

  8. Is it crazy that I have absolutely no idea what traditional New Orleans/Mardi Gras food is?? But I imagine it is like any other festive food…just nakeder? Saturday I went to a Turbokick Mardi Gras party – there was no food but lots of cardio. And tons of beads!! (But no flashing thank you very much.)

  9. Hey Dr. J! I was wondering if you were on vacation or what but it was a mystery because I saw you commentating around…

    I have been looking forward to a mardi gras for years but whenever the wife and I finally make it… it will probably just be one day of feasting… too much more and it will take too long to recover. :)

    Good to see you posting – thanks to Roy until calorielab is working for you again! :)

  10. Charlotte!

    I guess you’ll just have to pack the family in the “bus,” and drive south like I did to experience Creole cooking! I wish I could have been at your Turbokick Mardi Gras, I must still have some of those beads around here somewhere :-)

    Hey John!

    Thank you! When you go to New Orleans visit Preservation Hall around the corner from Bourbon Street, that’s where you’ll find some of the great musicians that really made New Orleans famous!

  11. Very true: ethnic cuisine always seems to lose something in translation when it hits our shores. Portions definitely get a lot larger, for one thing.

    The detail that sticks in my head about my visit to New Orleans many years ago: mosquitoes the size of cocker spaniels. Well, anyway, bigger than they had a right to be.

    Nice to read you again, Dr. J.!

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