Every year, Louisiana celebrates King Cake and Crawfish season!
In case you are not from Louisiana, this is also known as Mardi Gras season and is the period after Christmas up until the day before Ash Wednesday or Lent.
Les bon temps rouler! There are many things I have come to appreciate about living in South Louisiana. As a city transplant, one of them is the fact that the food culture is unrivaled and believe me when I tell you, I have traveled a LOT!
But I have also come to realize that what is its pride, is also its nemesis. Why do I say this? For years, Louisiana has consistently placed at the bottom of all states in terms of health and health-related disparities. Yep! 49th most of the time. We compete with our neighbor, the great state of Mississippi for that position.
While there are several other factors that come into play when these rankings are tallied, (obesity rate, infant mortality rates, vaccination rates, life expectancy, and so on), I am purposefully making a generalization here for the benefit of my making my point.
Having lived in Louisiana now for almost 18 years (Oh WOW! I didn’t think I’d ever say that!), I have tried to rationalize the challenges and tried to understand the cultural impact that food has on its citizens.
Here’s what I have found: Food is what brings people together. More importantly, Food is what brings families together. Families may not have a whole lot, but when there is a reason for a celebration, you can always bet that whatever little is provided, it will be absolutely lip-smacking delicious.
Lord knows, I have had the benefit of sampling some of the best gravies, gumbos and stews in Louisiana and when laid on top of rice, OMG! Whoa!…it sets the rice on FIRE!
I have also spent these past 18 years trying to understand the food cycle in Louisiana. As soon as Christmas is over, literally the day after Christmas, here comes the King Cake season. Never mind the recent Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday season binge.
As if that’s not enough, add to that the high sodium crawfish season and we have a recipe for disaster.
Not to mention that Fall is synonymous with Football season in south LA so you know what that means; Tailgating at its best. Lots of fried foods, plenty of alcohol and you can quickly see how this does not bode well for healthy living.
In the past, I always struggled with understanding why the patients in my traditional practice had a really difficult time modifying their diet even when they knew it was detrimental to their health.
You see, it took me a while but I finally got it. The light bulb came on one day!
I somehow finally understood that for them, leaving the food they grew up eating or not partaking in, was sort of like turning their backs away from their families. This was a departure from everything they knew as LOVE .
This experience was akin to a feeling of betrayal as if to say, “what makes me better than everyone else, especially my family that I love so much?”
“My family has survived on this food for centuries so what makes me any different?”
What I also hear is “My grandmother ate this same food (boudin and cracklins for breakfast) and lived to be 92 years old.” What they may fail to realize is that grandmother in her younger days also probably had more of an active lifestyle than what meets the eye, rather than the sedentary lifestyles our generation have adopted.
Research done by the CDC shows that we consume more sugar and more processed food than any other generation before us, which leads us to the rise in cardiovascular mortality. Over that same period of time, our generation sits for longer periods of time, exercises less and add to that our diets high in sugar, sodium and processed fats, and we’re headed for a collision course.
So how does one reconcile this fact and try to make a positive change? The question for most people is not whether they need to make a change. They know they need to make a change…they just don’t know HOW.
The bottom line is, in order to succeed, you will need a coach. A coach that can provide you a roadmap or real actionable plans for how to start to live a healthier lifestyle and hold you accountable as well.
I understand the struggle and I can tell you that trying to do this on your own is probably not the best idea if you are looking for success.
Let my team and I can be your guide.