The holiday season is here and that means many parties and drinking! These days, Americans have an average of three parties per week between work, friends and family visits. These parties start around thanksgiving and, for some, are nonstop all the way through the new year. Eggnog, ciders and cocktails are a given at these events, but some may start to worry about gaining weight around this time. With good reason, because overindulging during the holidays is basically tradition and at these festivities there’s always copious amounts of food and drink to go around.
However, before you start packing those spirits and wine in the back of your car for your holiday parties, there are some things to keep in mind about alcohol. First, unlike carbohydrates, fats and proteins, alcohol cannot be stored in the body. Therefore, the calories that come from alcohol have to be processed by the liver first, while all of the other holiday food you’re eating (in its copious quantities) usually ends up being stored as fat. To make matters worse, science shows that alcohol lowers your blood sugar which triggers the body to be more hungry, so you end up eating even more than you normally would. And for those who are familiar with a drunken appetite, you’re not exactly craving carrots and kale while on this binge, and usually steer towards more fatty, high-sugar foods for satisfaction.
Not the best news, I know, and let’s be honest: most of you are not going to let an article stop you from having your fun this holiday season. This is totally fair and, in fact, you shouldn’t be trying to lose weight during the holidays. It’s encouraged that you enjoy them just like anyone else, but also be sure to make good choices so that you can maintain your weight rather than gain more. So, when it comes to holiday drinking, here are some tips on how you can navigate around pitfalls that may sabotage your weight management goals while still having a good time:
- Serving Sizes of alcohol are as follows: 1 serving of alcohol = 4 ounces of wine, or a shot of booze (1.5 ounces), or 12 ounces of beer.
- Decide ahead of time how much you plan to drink and then recruit a friend or loved one to help keep you accountable so you don’t end up giving into unexpected impulses.
- While socializing during drinking, try to do so away from foods and snacks to prevent yourself from unwillingly and mindlessly snacking while you chat, so you don’t accidentally consume even more calories.
- If you’re a party guest, don’t bring a bottle of booze as a present. If you have to bring a party beverage, try sparkling cider, teas or hot chocolate. That way you know there are alternative options to alcohol available
- If you are drinking spirits/liquor, watch your mixers. Instead of caloric mixers like soda and juice, try mixing with soda water to keep calories low and keep you hydrated. Another way to stay hydrated and give yourself more volume, but less alcohol is to use lots of ice.
- Do your best not to binge drink. So no more than 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men during your party. This is to prevent weight gain and drink responsibly.
- Finally, alternate! If you do decide to drink, tell yourself that during the party, for every alcoholic drink you have, you’ll have a non-alcoholic one like water or tea after it before you have another. Adding additional, lower caloric fluid can inhibit you from the physiological urge to drink more.