Sensible sipping - 10 tips for keeping alcohol in check
Did you know that alcohol is the second most calorie-rich fuel available behind fat? To make matters worse, our body doesn't perceive alcohol as a food, so you don't feel full after a few high-calorie drinks. Instead, alcohol stimulates the appetite, and we don't usually make the healthiest food choices after a few drinks!
Have a few strategies in place for when you drink alcohol to stay in control and keep the calorie count to a minimum.
Avoid joining in on 'rounds'
This allows you to choose the pace at which you drink. Try to keep to a maximum of 1 drink per hour for a max of 4 hours.
Make every second drink a water or mineral water, and you'll be thankful the morning after! If you want to avoid being harassed by your drinking buddies, add a lime wedge and ice so it looks just like a vodka lime soda.
If you're drinking wine, why not add some mineral water and make it a spritzer (half wine, half mineral water). You will reduce your alcohol and calorie consumption, and still feel part of the party.
Choose low carb or low alcohol options where available
Alcohol companies are constantly making new products which are both low in carbohydrates and/or low in alcohol. These are better options.
Use low-calorie mixers
When drinking spirits with mixers, our choice of mixer can increase the amount of calories we consume. Coke, ginger ale and lemonade are all full of sugar - switch to mineral water with lemon, or soda water with bitters.
Avoid the creamy cocktails
When drinking cocktails stick to fruity cocktails and avoid the creamy ones - generally speaking, fruity cocktails are lower in calories and fat.
Eat a balanced meal before you go out
If you are meeting friends for a drink, ensure you have eaten first. The food in your stomach will give your body more time to process the toxins and will decrease the stomach irritations which can lead to an unpleasant aftermath.
Drink more expensive alcohol
It has been said that life is too short to drink cheap wine. Not only does more expensive wine often taste better, but also it has fewer chemicals called congeners. Fewer congeners reduce the hangover. White wine has fewer congeners than red wine.
Take aspirin before bed
If you have overdone it, take 2 aspirins and a full glass of water before bed. Aspirin contains prostaglandin inhibitors which can decrease the hangover effect.
Drink plenty of water when you wake up
Before you have a coffee, have a big glass of water! Coffee will dehydrate you further and only make matters worse, so resist the temptation and you'll feel more alert for it.
The following list shows the calorie content of a range of drinks. Plan to limit the number of higher calorie drinks if you are actively trying to stay healthy.
|Drink||Number of calories|
|1 nip of spirit (30ml) plus a low-calorie mixer||60 calories|
|1 middy of light beer||70 calories|
|1 middy of regular strength beer||95 calories|
|1 small glass (150ml) of white wine||95 calories|
|1 glass (150ml) of champagne||95 calories|
|Small port or fortified wine (100ml)||95 calories|
|1 small glass (150ml) of red wine||100 calories|
|1 can (375ml) of vodka and orange||220 calories|
|1 can (375ml) of bourbon and cola||260 calories|
|1 cocktail||300 - 1200 calories|
Written by Dr Naras Lapsys, Dietician.
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