If you do not consume alcohol already, adding it to your diet is not recommended. The information is inspired by Dietitian Ginger Hultin’s presentation from the 2018 Today’s Dietitian Conference.
1.How much should you drink?
To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends that if alcohol is consumed, it should be in moderation.
1 drink/day for women & 2 drinks/day for men.
The guidelines also recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol, do not start drinking for any reason.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends not exceeding 2 drinks per day and having at least 2 non-drinking days per week (~10 drinks/week)
2. Choosing healthier snacking options
The amount of alcohol and rate of absorption determines the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and exposure to your organs. About 20% of the alcohol consumed can be absorbed in your stomach when you drink on an empty stomach. This is why you feel the effects of alcohol quicker when you don't eat beforehand.
Research studies have shown that on average, 25% more calories are consumed later when you drink on an empty stomach. These extra calories can be stored as triglycerides (fat).
On the contrary, drinking can often be accompanied with heavy meals like pizza or other fatty, bar foods. When you add alcohol to these high calorie meals, the calories add up quickly!
Here are some healthier options to snack on while drinking, to avoid excess calories later:
Veggies and hummus
Whole grain crackers
Fruit or dried fruit
Crostini or bruschetta
3. Choosing healthier drink options
Different types of alcohol have different calorie densities.
For example, a lighter beer, like an ale, has less calories than a heavier beer, like a stout. Similarly, one particular white wine might be lower in calories than another white wine. One of the easiest ways to determine a lower calorie option is to look at the alcohol by volume (ABV). Options with a higher ABV are more likely to be a higher calorie choice than a similar drink with a lower ABV. See the image below for some general examples.
A sugary drink such as a margarita or pina colada can have an upwards of 500 calories!
Choose lower sugar and lower calorie drinks instead.
Here is a healthier margarita created by Ginger Hultin at Champagne Nutrition:
2 limes, sliced into 4 wedges each
21 oz Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade or Newman’s Own Lemonade
8 oz silver tequila of your choice
4 oz Grand Mariner
Muddle a slice of lime in 1 cup of ice in a shaker, then add 8 oz lemonade and 2 oz tequila. Shake firmly until liquid is thoroughly shaken.
Rub another lime wedge on the rim of the glass. Dip the edge of the glass into salt poured onto a plate so that it is thoroughly coated. Garnish the rum with the lime wedge.
Pour liquid into the glass, adding ice if needed.
Float 1 oz of Grand Mariner on the top in a circular motion. Serve with a straw
Try these Mocktails for a refreshing non-alcoholic drink!
Moscow Mule Mocktail
Mix ingredients in a copper mug 3/4 full of crushed ice.
Garnish with lime wedge.
citrus of some kind oranges, lemons, limes, sliced into rounds with peels ON and seeds popped out
-berries strawberries, raspberries, blueberries
-apples peaches, grapes, cherries (pitted) or other fruit on hand sliced thin, peel on
-1 bottle apple juice or white grape juice
Optional: Mint basil, or rosemary for a little kick; muddled
Thoroughly wash all fruit and slice thin. Leave peels on for color and their delicious flavor!
Pour in juice and stir. Slowly pour in soda water and any additional herbs you'd like to add.
Refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours.
Serve over ice and enjoy!!