Purple Carrot Nutrition
The new tradition is Caribbean nutrition
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Surviving the Road - Carnival Nutrition

by Janelle Zakour RD

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Mas-ments! Are you excited for the road?

Many people fail to realize that preparing for Carnival is quite similar to training for a real marathon; the same basic rules apply.

You should approach the Monday and Tuesday festivities as you would if you are preparing for an endurance race.  Treat it like a marathon, not a sprint, especially since it’s not one, but two days of revelry. You are going to need your energy if you are going to jump up all day!

Here are some tips that will ensure that you maintain a good nutrition status even when playing mas.

1. Prevent dehydration

Wake up and immediately drink a glass of water. You dehydrate while you sleep so it is important to replace fluids. Drink water consistently throughout the day. You are going to be on the road in the hot sun, possibly consuming a lot of liquor. You might think you’re well hydrated after that sixth beer but think again; excessive alcohol dehydrates the body and causes you to excrete more fluids than you normally would. Worse yet, sodas and other sugary carbonated beverages speed up the dehydration process. Avoid the risk of heat stroke (and the dreaded hangover) by drinking 8 ounces of water every hour and choose water between alcoholic beverages. Carnival time is probably the one time in the year where you require the highest water consumption. Staying adequately hydrated will prevent you from retaining water and looking like you undid all of the hard work at the gym.

2. Try not to overindulge with the alcohol

Your liver and kidneys are your body’s own detoxifying organs. When you overload them with alcohol, their functions begin to deteriorate- your liver can only handle a certain amount of alcohol at any given time. Generally, alcohol serving sizes for men per day are 2 drinks (2 12oz beers, 3 oz distilled spirits, 10 oz wine) and for women it is 1 drink (12oz beer, 1.5 oz distilled spirits, 5 oz wine). Many people also seem to forget that alcohol is extremely calorie dense. One small rum and coke can equal about 150 calories. After 1 day, you’d have well consumed over a full day’s worth of calories in drinks alone. Alcohol also reduces your inhibitions so apart from being brave enough to scale walls and buildings, you will also be tempted to indulge in anything high carb and deep fried. Stock up on coconut water and rehydration salts to help replace lost electrolytes and prevent dehydration; just like any athlete.

3. A proper diet is crucial for any sort of race

And since this is a party marathon, start the day by having a balanced breakfast with protein and fibre. Drinking on an empty stomach is the equivalent to ‘hitting the wall’ too early in the game. One of my favourite pre-jump up breakfasts is overnight oats. Here is a simple 300 calorie power-meal.
½ cup raw oats
2 tbsp raisins or ½ sliced banana
½ cup low-fat milk or milk substitute
2 tsp chia seeds or peanut butter
and a pinch of cinnamon and stevia.
Mix all ingredients in a mason jar the night before, pop it in the fridge and it will be ready by the morning. This is an easy breakfast balanced with carbohydrates, protein, fat and dietary fibre to get that engine revving.

Keep healthy snacks available if you can like whole fruit and unsalted nuts. I’ve actually been known to keep a pack of almonds in my boots. Eating something small every 2 to 3 hours will prevent you from ‘hangriness’ and overindulging in the wrong foods.

Don’t skip lunch! In a perfect world, it would be best if you can organize your own meals. But a good rule of thumb when eating any meal is to ensure that half your plate (or box) is vegetables, quarter is a mixture of staples and legumes, and quarter is animal/vegetarian protein. Don’t overeat unless you want to adopt that bloated look.

At the end of the day, make sure and have dinner. You pretty much ran a marathon out there and you will need to replenish your body with the nutrients lost. I would recommend something fluid-based and easy on the stomach like a fish broth with green fig and provisions, some lean protein and some vegetable sides.

4. Stay well rested and get to bed early on Carnival Monday

Sleep deprivation can lead to poor decisions, a foggy mind and random pass-outs; maybe not the best situation if you’re on the road all day. Save the late night jamming for Las Lap.

Let the jammin' begin!