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Alcohol and The Holidays

Tiffany Tiffany December 20, 2021 0 Comments General Health

Hello everyone!

We are totally in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season—we just celebrated Thanksgiving, and we are full-steam ahead to the other December celebrations. The December celebrations are so fun—there’s a lot to look forward to, including:

  • Good food/snacks, even if celebrating virtually or in a small setting
  • Hallmark Movies and the classics
  • Gift giving
  • Decorating (and hopefully LOTS of it... and glitter)
  • Lots of love, laughs, creativity and connecting with family
  • Special holiday worship/services at your church/through your religion
  • Opportunities for alcohol consumption (I'm fighting the urge to make a crack about 'surviving' the in-laws--because I legitimately have the best ones on this planet so this is not about me!!)

The Holidays are a reason to celebrate, and many times celebrations mean alcohol…and lots of it, especially in Wisconsin. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation, and there are a few tips and tricks to enjoy your alcohol while staying safe and keeping your health in mind.

The CDC recommends the daily amount of alcohol consumption to be:
>MEN: 2 Drinks
>WOMEN: 1 Drink

When you read “1 drink or 2”…how does that make you feel? Do you ask yourself “well how big are the drinks” or do you feel guilty about drinking more than the recommended amount daily? Maybe you didn’t know that there was a recommended amount per day—and I’m not here to judge, or make anyone feel bad, but rather to bring an educational component about the risks and opportunities for you to sip smarter.

Consuming alcohol, in any amount, does have various risks that should be taken seriously. These risks can include injuries (falls, burns, drownings), health problems (issues managing diabetes, weight, high blood pressure, sleep disorders), and mental health concerns (depression, anxiety).

All of the alcohol risks are scary and should certainly be thought about, but for the purpose of this blog and the Slimdown Challenge…we’re talking weight loss and maintenance, so let’s get into the nitty gritty about alcohol, calories, decision making and SIPPING SMARTER!

Alcohol is not a “free food”—it still contains calories, which if you have a few drinks…those calories can really pack a punch, and that’s not including the mixers to go with! By making changes with “sipping smarter”, you can still enjoy an occasional beverage while keeping track with your health goals.

  • Drink water between alcohol drinks
    • If you are planning to have more than 1 or 2 drinks, having water in-between will help slow down your consumption, and it will also help to keep you hydrated which can help to prevent a headache the next day.
    • Having water in-between drinks can also help keep your hands and mouth occupied, and may help you to stay within the limit you set for yourself.
  • Mix Smarter/Lighter options
    • As mentioned earlier, alcohol is not calorie free... and if you add a high sugar/high calorie mixer, it's a double punch! Lower calorie mixers can help you keep calories and sugar down, and suggestions include diet soda, tonic/seltzer water, and fruit (citrus wedges come to mind) for tasty and healthier mixes.
    • Many "fun" and "fru fru" drinks, while delicious and has a "takes-you-immediately-to-the-beach" vibe, are super-packed with calories and sugar. Opt for checking labels and choosing brands or other alcoholic options with less sugar and calories... or go for the small class instead of the "vacation size".
    • Light beer will have less calories than regular, and there are now many "lightened up" options for popular brands of beverages. Hard seltzers are all the rage now, and are low on calories, carbs and sugars, and may be a better option for you.
  • Focus on family/conversation
    • While alcohol is part of many holiday celebrations, shift your focus to be more about your family, the conversations, and the things you are grateful for... even if the holidays look different this year.
    • If you are going virtual this year, be creative with activities that can be done "together" such as cooking, eating a mean, playing a game or just catching up.
  • Set a limit
    • Enjoy your alcoholic beverage(s), but also be mindful of what your wellness goals are, and how alcohol can set you back with calories, and other decision-making. make a decision and stand firm on how much you are indulging and stick with it.
    • If you are traveling, absolutely make sure you have a Designated Driver if you are consuming alcohol above the recommended amount. Don't let this holiday turn into a tragedy!

There's nothing wrong with indulging over the holidays, but it's important to remember that alcohol carries many different health risks and may not be the best option for you with your health goals. By making smarter choices, you can remain healthy over the holidays and stick with your wellness plan!

Sources:
Alcohol during the holidays: 4 ways to sip smarter by Jason S. Ewoldt. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthylifestyle/
nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/alcohol-during-holidays/art-20270845
Accessed 11/23/2021

Rethinking Drinking, Alcohol & your health. https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/
Accessed 11/23/2021