It’s already that crazy time of year when the social get-togethers start to pile up. Dietitian Jemma O’Hanlon explains how to cope with the rivers of booze flowing your way.
Unless you’re catching up with your friends at the gym, you’ll likely be heading out for vinos with the girls, pints with the lads or that office Christmas party where it’s all you can eat and drink. While the silly season might throw at us everything we could have ever wanted like kids on Christmas day, our poor livers cop it sweet – not to mention other vital organs like the brain and kidneys. And chances are, our waistlines will feel the effects, too.
We could be boring purists and tell you not to drink at all, because recent scientific evidence hasn’t been kind on alcohol and the myth that a glass or two of wine a day is good for you, but we know what this time of year is like. So in good faith and as our Christmas gift to you, here are our tips to survive the silly season and keep that gun show on point.
1. Choose clear over dark beverages
Darker-coloured alcoholic beverages like red wine, scotch and bourbon contain higher levels of congeners, a fermented yeast by-product, which can make hangovers worse. Go for vodka, gin or white wine instead.
2. Mix with fresh lime & soda
Vodka, lime and soda has often been regarded as a lower-kilojoule drink and it’s true. Spirits mixed with soda means you’re getting a bit of hydration in there and not just sculling highly processed sugars and additional kilojoules. Make sure you ask for fresh lime, not that awful sweet lime cordial, which is also high in sugar. You may be surprised to learn that tonic water has the same amount of sugar as other soft drinks – soda and sparkling water are both kilojoule-free and the best mixers to go for.
3. Have a water between every wine
Dehydration is one of the main reasons our heads hurt so much after a big night. But if you stay hydrated throughout, you’ll feel much better the next morning. Grab a water between every wine and you’ll be doing yourself a big favour. Even better, make your next drink a soda water with fresh lime. Everyone will think it’s vodka and you can let them believe it.
We all like to get into the festive spirit, but if you want to do the right thing by your body and treat it like the temple that it is, put on the breaks a little. Order a nice martini, sip it slowly and enjoy it rather than downing five glasses of wine. After all, it costs an arm and a leg and it’s something that should be savoured, not slaughtered!
5. Line your stomach
Yep, the old wives’ tale is true. Have a substantial meal with good-quality carbs, protein and healthy fats before you kick off your Christmas festivities. It will help reduce the hangover and cravings for junk food the next day, too.
6. Quit the late night kebab
Some might say it’s almost a rite of passage after a big night out, but whether you’re into cheeseburgers, kebabs or hot chips, none of these are good options at 3am. When you drink alcohol, the body’s top priority is to metabolise it and remove it from your system. When you have that greasy kebab, your body is too busy metabolising the alcohol and will more than likely store those kebab kilojoules as body fat. Also, more and more research in relation to circadian rhythms tells us that eating late at night is never a good idea. It’s better to line your stomach before you go out rather than indulging later.
7. Drink kombucha
No-one is going to drag you over the coals for not drinking. Sometimes, when we have so many functions going on, giving our livers a break makes a lot of sense. Why not grab some kombucha on the way to your next BBQ? You’ll feel so very hipster, save on cab fares and feel amazing the next day.
8. Beer: choose light not low-carb
We know what you’re thinking: this can’t be! Well, we hate to burst your bubble, but low-carb beer is a marketing gimmick. The truth is, beer is not that high in carbs in the first place. Alcohol (containing 29kJ/gram compared to carbs at 16kJ/gram) is the real issue here, so choose light over low-carb if you’re looking to cut down on the beer belly.
9. Go easy on the cocktails
There’s nothing like an Aperol spritz on a hot summer’s day, but be mindful that there’s more alcohol and sugary mixers in cocktails, which means more kilojoules. Creamy cocktails are even higher due to all that cream. Our motto with these things is quality over quantity. Sip slowly, don’t sabotage the six-pack and make it a night to remember!