Fun And Healthy Alternatives To Alcohol And Drinks
Contributed by Liza Rowan October 2, 2017
There is nothing wrong with the odd tipple with friends, it’s of course part of being sociable. With my Irish experience, I often say ‘the more you drink, the more you drink!’
Consuming more than one or two alcoholic beverages easily leads down that slippery slope of having more than intended.
Consuming excess alcohol often leads to nibbling or over-consuming unhealthy or junk food. This is in addition to the fact that alcohol itself doesn’t provide much nutritionally (there are some benefits -yeah!) and is often mixed with sugary fizzy drinks.
Here are some facts about alcohol that might help you steer clear from overdoing it — but not to feel bad about enjoying a little socially. The big caveat – In Moderation!
- Alcohol has 7 calories per gram (carbs & proteins have 4, fats 9) and is high in sugars
- It goes directly to liver for metabolism, taking precedence over food
- It can interfere with the efficiency of fat metabolism, which can lead to fatty liver disease
- Our body reacts not only to drinking excess over the years but also to short-term over-consumption
Short-term effects – poor judgment, risk of overeating, thirst for more alcohol.
The next day – hangover, headaches, nausea, heartburn, fatigue, lethargy, feeling of melancholy – often causing us to overeat, and not exercise.
Long-Term Potential Risks
Heart disease, high blood pressure, addiction, emotional problems, obesity, ulcers, type 2 diabetes, hypoglycemia, gout, nerve & brain dysfunction, and poor immunity.
Possible Benefits Of Alcohol
When alcohol is enjoyed in moderation, some of the reported benefits are stress relief, improves blood flow, may lessen progression of heart disease as it slightly increases HDL (good) cholesterol
Suggested Safe Social Intake
Various recommendations are put forward, here at Health & Vitality we suggest 5-7 units a week for ladies (not all at one sitting), with one unit being a 125ml glass of wine, 250ml beer or 25 ml of spirits.
To avoid excess drinking, commit to a number before you start. Focus on the social aspect of the occasion, taking the opportunity to catch up with friends, or to strike up a conversation with someone new — you never know where it might lead!
If social drinking does become a concern, there are online sources that can support (e.g. soberistas or HelloSundayMorning.org).
Commit to a ‘dry month’ so that alcohol isn’t your only social focus; perhaps donate savings to charity as a motivating factor. You will feel all the better for your achievements and it puts you back in control.
- Order water first, and always have a water glass on hand — water can be made palatable by adding fruit slices, fresh juice and herbs
- Sip slowly and alternate with water
- Don’t let the waiter or host top up your drink until your glass is empty; this way you can monitor how much you are actually consuming
- Try spritzers (wine with soda water), or good quality low-alcohol beers
- Make a mental note beforehand of what is reasonable to enjoy
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach
- Eating some carbs, protein and fat will delay absorption
- Don’t let alcohol be the focus – socialise, laugh, flirt!
- Find a purpose to avoid overindulging, e.g. plan activities for early the next morning
- When on holiday, find activities to fill time so as to resist late afternoon happy hour and 2-for-1 deals
Drinks in general, from mixers to sugary fruit juices, contribute nothing to your good health. In my Eat Healthy, Lose Weight eGuide, we promote healthy alternatives to all sorts of foods that you might enjoy, including ‘treats’; and alcohol needs to be considered as such also.
Enjoying an occasional glass of red wine (which contains the antioxidant resveratrol) is fine, but like with any treat, it should be planned and limited. Contrary to what you might think, refreshing drinks, including mixers for the occasional alcoholic beverage, need not be laden with sugar or nasty additives.
Some of my favourite refreshing summer drinks include flavoured water kefir, iced coconut water with some pureed fruits or herbs or simply infused sparkling water.
Here are a few water infusion ideas and alternative healthy drinks which you can make at home:
Flat Belly Water Cucumber and lemon slices, with mint leaves and chopped ginger
Spiced Orange Orange slices with cinnamon sticks
Cool Greens Kiwi and green apple slices, lime and coriander
Healthy Alternative Drinks
Water, coconut water, some natural fruit juice (e.g. freshly squeezed orange juice)
Pre-soaked dried fruits (e.g. apricots) puréed with a little orange juice and soda water
Banana or mango puréed with some fruit juice, coconut water, and sea salt
Fresh strawberries puréed with water, coconut water, sea salt
To our health!