What About Alcohol?
By Unite Fitness Retreat Dietician, Brooke Bouwhuis
It’s stressful to figure out what to do about alcohol as part of your wellness plan. Alcohol is okay to include in your life with balance and intention. But it gets muddy when considering calories and circumstance for consumption. You know alcohol impairs judgement. It does this by affecting the pre-frontal cortex. This is where your ability to think clearly and rein in impulsive decisions disappears when you drink too much and then like many of us, start making unhealthy food choices as well.
Cocktails = Calories
Keeping your drinks to a 4 oz glass of wine or 1.5 oz spirits a few times a week is reasonable. When working on losing weight, you may want to consider having a drink even less often because the calories in alcohol add up fast! Consider just a few times a month.
Alcohol itself has 7 calories per gram; remember fat has 9 calories per gram and protein and carbohydrate each have 4. When alcohol is mixed with ingredients like juices, liqueurs, colas, tonics and super-sugary mixes like those used for margaritas and daiquiris – they really pack a caloric punch.
It doesn’t help that high calorie snacks are often eaten while drinking. Think mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, nachos and quesadillas. Yikes!
Most cocktails are loaded with simple carbohydrates which send insulin levels through the roof. Stabilize your blood sugar by eating something with fiber, protein and fat in conjunction with your beverage. Fiber, protein and fat slow down digestion allowing glucose to be released more slowly over time which keeps your blood sugar in check.
Refresh without the Calories
Want to have a refresher without as many calories? Our client, Suzanne from Fresno, suggested a mocktail of muddled mint, seltzer and lime. Boom! No hangover and it’s cheap and easy to make. Make sure it’s seltzer and not tonic water. Tonic water is usually sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or sugar to soften the bitter flavor of the added quinine.
Enjoy in Moderation
Having a drink occasionally in a social situation with friends where you are connecting and having meaningful conversation, that sets a foundation for a healthy way to enjoy a drink. Trouble happens when you are solo watching Netflix, and more than a glass of wine has disappeared.
Want to know the best beverage you could possibly drink? Water. Seemingly boring and simple yet so powerful in our bodies to promote our health. Your second-best bet? Tea, especially green tea which is rich in polyphenols which reduces inflammation and the EGCG may even help with weight loss.
Often, we have expectations and habits that govern our choices. Open that box of rules and expectations we sometimes put ourselves in and allow things to change. You may be surprised with exciting results. Enjoy your choices, make sure they add value and meaning to your life. Living a life of balance and wellness is what it’s all about.