Eat, drink and be merry! It’s the festive season, yay! With the festive cheer, comes a lot of food, wine, and merriment. This is great, we all need some time off to relax and regroup especially after the past two years. Of course, all the eating, drinking, and general merriment, can have a negative impact on our health. But don’t worry, there is a way to join in on all the merriment and have a couple of drinks with friends and family without blowing your diet or impacting your health.
What happens when you drink alcohol?
Let’s start with the basics; What happens when you consume alcohol? Alcohol gets into the stomach first. It then moves to the small intestine and the bloodstream. The rest goes to the liver where it then breaks down into its component alcohol. Your liver then processes that alcohol. It’s metabolized by a healthy liver at a rate of about one ounce per 90 minutes.
Various factors, such as body fat percentage and biological sex, affect this process. Over time, as the liver processes the excess alcohol, it slowly saturates the blood. The amount of alcohol that you consume isn’t immediately processed in your body. Instead, it stays in the blood until it reaches your liver, which can then remove the excess. As the alcohol in your blood increases, its effects become more severe.
Why alcohol is bad for you
Alcohol is the first fuel that is burned as energy in your body, and it contains no nutrients. Its empty calories are used as fat storage. It can also stimulate insulin production, which can result in increased fat storage. This is a known health issue that can cause issues such as dehydration and weight gain. Alcohol can also decrease your body’s hormone production, which is a big factor in maintaining a healthy weight and building muscle.
When you drink alcohol before bed, it can affect your sleep patterns. Unfortunately, the effects last for a long time after the alcohol has been metabolized. Although it can seem like it helps you to fall asleep, it can cause insomnia, especially in the longer term. Alcohol also contains a ton of liquid calories that can be easily consumed in large quantities.
Another major issue with drinking is the lack of rational decision-making. Many people, once drunk, crave and then consume all of the same food that they would usually avoid if they weren’t intoxicated.
It’s not all bad news though
Everyone knows that red wine has plenty of healthy antioxidants. But did you also know that alcohol has phenolic content that can improve a person’s vascular health?
Alcohol consumption can also help lower stress. Of course, this is only when it’s consumed in moderation. Personally, I would say that a glass of wine or a beer at the end of a day can help you feel good. Just make sure that it isn’t a crutch and that you aren’t reliant on it to feel good.
In small amounts, it can also help lower your stress levels and even lower your chances of gaining weight. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It can also help prevent strokes and deaths.
Try to practice mindful drinking
- Make sure you stay hydrated. Water intake is even more vital when you’re consuming alcohol as it can dehydrate the body.
- Make sure you eat and drink. Try not to drink on an empty stomach. We all know it can be tempting not to eat so you look particularly great in your dress. But having something in your system can really help your body to cope with the alcohol. Good fats and proteins in foods like tuna, avocado, and bananas can slow the rate of absorption of alcohol into the blood. This means you will be able to enjoy the party longer.
- Try and make every second drink non-alcoholic to give your body a break. Add some cool drinks, fruit juices, water, or non-alcoholic alternatives. This just allows your body to regain some more energy and hydration.
- Avoid mixing drinks. Whilst cocktails may seem like a fantastic idea at the start of the evening, it’s likely that you’ll regret mixing drinks. You tend to get drunk faster when you mix your spirits.
Choose your drink wisely
If you’re looking to maintain your health and are looking to have some fun without consuming sugar and empty calories from alcohol, then you need to choose wisely when it comes to what you are drinking. Here are a few options for healthier options to get you through the festive season:
- Wine: Red wine in particular contains antioxidants and is widely known as a healthier choice when drinking. If you prefer white wine, opt for a dry white as this will contain less sugar.
- Champagne or Sparkling wine: Your best bet is a very dry sparkling wine or champagne. Look for brut or ultra brut on the label. The drier the wine, the less sugar it contains.
- Vodka: Make sure you have it with soda water and a twist of lemon for a healthier option. If you really want sweetness, opt for a diet lemonade.
- Whiskey: As long as it’s on the rocks or with water or soda water, it’s a good option. Whiskey, brandy, and cognac all contain antioxidants and are free of carbs
- Beer: Your best bet is a light beer, as they contain fewer calories and carbs. However, it’s still created using grains, so it’s not the best option. It’s important to make sure that you keep consumption to a minimum.
Nobody is perfect and indeed, it would be boring if you were. No, drinking alcohol isn’t really good for you. But then, a lot of what we do on a daily basis isn’t. In moderation, alcohol does have some benefits, especially if you choose the right drink. Try to make sure that you drink in moderation and do so mindfully. Ultimately, that’s the best way to make sure that you can drink and be merry whilst still being healthy this festive season.