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Alex Allan Nutrition
By Alex Allan on 15/12/23 | Nutrition Tips

If food isn't the problem, is it the booze?

What I hear from clients is, it’s not always the food that’s the problem – it’s the booze. 

Often partygoers who are cautious about their alcohol consumption are viewed with suspicion. If you want to have a few glasses of wine, have a few glasses of wine. But make that decision inside of what you know to be your social schedule over the entire Christmas period. 

One of the little tricks I often use is to look at my health goals alongside my social calendar and choose what I want to commit to. I choose when I want to drink, roughly how much I want to drink, and when I want to be the designated driver and not drink. 

I’m not suggesting for a minute that you have to cut back at Christmas. Yet I know that many of my clients get carried away by the spirit of Christmas (excuse the pun), whether it’s a fun wave to ride or not. This year, how about YOU choose what you want to do and when you want to do it. 

Here are a few suggestions for cutting down – if that’s what you choose to do:

  • Decide how much you are going to drink (maximum) before you go out.
  • Consider telling someone else who will be there (friend or partner, perhaps) to help keep you accountable.
  • Don’t feel pressurised by others. It’s your life, and you are the one who makes the decisions. 
  • Have an excuse ready when you want to give it a miss (remember ‘no, thanks, I’d rather have …’ is perfectly OK.)

And how much booze is too much? The official stats are no more than 14 units of alcohol a week for adults (both men and women). Consider a large glass of wine at today’s typical strength is 3.5 units, a 330ml bottle of 5% beer is 1.7 units and a single shot of 40% spirits is 1 unit. It quickly adds up. 

Without wanting to be a party pooper, the NHS considers an alcohol ‘binge’ to be drinking 6 (women) – 8 (men) units of alcohol in a single session.  Just to give you some perspective. If you’re a wine drinking, you can soon see how quickly you are in that territory. 

As a rule, try to have more booze-free nights than not to allow your body to recover. 

On those nights that you don’t drink at all, you’ll sleep better, wake feeling more refreshed, you’ll have much more energy, and your mood will be better. The impact on your waistline will be positive, too – alcohol is a major contributor to belly fat and is brimming with unnecessary calories.

And if you’re choosing what to drink over the festive period, the best options, when it comes to alcohol, are all those non-creamy, non-sugary drinks. Pretty much in this order: dry champagne, vodka and soda with a squeeze of lime (I have also tried this with gin – surprisingly nice!), dry white or dry rosé or red wine. A gin and tonic has a fair amount of sugar thanks to the tonic. Things like dark rum, port, sherry, liqueurs, fruit juice-based cocktails and spirits with sugary mixers like Coke or lemonade are total sugar bombs (sorry if you are a fan of Bailey’s or Southern Comfort and Coke…).  

But this a festive period and you definitely want to have fun! Just make sure that it’s the type of fun you actually want to have – you are in charge and you can do what you want at this time. Enjoy!

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