Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Last week, I wrote about how to stay sane during the holidays given that it can be a really difficult time of year for some people. Indeed, many rely on alcohol to get them through stressful events and occasions. What's more is that attending countless holiday parties can mean lots of mulled wine, eggnog, hot toddies and more.
So, in today’s post, I'll focus on how you can sip smarter during the holiday season—and how you can cure that hangover should you have one (or three) too many.
But First, Some Real Talk About Alcohol…
Alcohol is a lot more caloric than you’d think. Carbohydrates and protein clock in at 4 calories per gram, while fat is 9 calories per gram. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is quite significant! To make matters worse, it doesn’t take our body any extra energy to break it down. For example, your body actually burns calories as it breaks protein down, but every single calorie of alcohol stays with you.
Additionally, your liver plays a role in keeping your blood sugar levels steady, but if it’s being bogged down by filtering out alcohol, it isn’t able to do this job as well. Translation: your blood sugar levels drop and stay that way until the alcohol is metabolized. Bring on cravings for carbs, sweets, and sugar, which is not good during a time of year when you’re surrounded by this kind of stuff!
Drinking alcohol can also encourage fat storage and weight gain. When you drink, your liver prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol, so it’s burning empty alcohol calories for energy instead of focusing on breaking down nutrient-rich food for energy. When you consume more calories than you burn, the extra calories are stored as fat. If you’ve been drinking a lot, your body might be convinced it already has the calories it needs when it comes time to digest your food, meaning that all of those food-related calories will be stored as fat.
How to Sip Smarter During the Holidays
Limit the egg nog.
I know, I know, you only get eggnog once a year. But given that it’s made with heavy cream, eggs, and rum, it packs a huge caloric punch at around 350 calories and 19 grams of fat per cup! I would say limit this as much as you can during the season and savour every sip when you do indulge.
Lighter drink choices include: vodka soda, straight bourbon, a seasonal hot toddy (made with hot water, honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon sticks), and a gin and tonic made with mostly club soda and just a splash of tonic water.
Stay away from drinks that are made with cream-based liqueurs as these are also very calorie-dense.
2. Pour half as much—or make it a spritzer.
If you know you’re going to be consuming a lot of alcohol, pour yourself a smaller glass each time, or fill half the glass with sparkling water to make it a spritzer! This will not only decrease your caloric intake, but you'll give yourself some additional hydration and reduce your chances of getting a bad hangover.
3. Put someone else on “pour duty.”
If you’re one to lose track of what glass of wine you’re on, ask a friend or significant other to be the one to pour your refills and request that they top it off only every hour or so to ensure you’re not drinking too quickly.
Don’t want to put that pressure on your date? Set a quiet alarm or reminder on your phone every hour or more and only allow yourself to pour another glass once that goes off. If you have a smart watch, the silent, vibrating alarm can be an incredibly helpful feature. Again, the key is to slow your drinking down so you’re not drinking more than you need.
4. Drink water.
This sounds simple, but it’s something we often forget to do when we’re drinking alcohol! A good tip is to match every glass of alcohol with at least one glass of water.
5. Use low-calorie mixers.
Lemon wedges, lime wedges, no-calorie soda, and flavoured sparkling water are all great options.
6. Take nights off from drinking and get your detoxification on.
If you’re attending a lot of holiday parties, it’s a wise idea to avoid drinking entirely during the other days of the week. During those days, it would also be wise to engage in activities that encourage detoxification: take a hot yoga class, start your day with lemon water, exercise, drink as much water as you can, drink green juices and smoothies, and take a liver-friendly supplement such as milk thistle.
So You’re Hungover… Now What?