Most of us enjoy a drink now and again. This isn’t a sin, so long as you do it consciously. How I drink now is very different than how I drank when I was first exposed to the world of alcoholic beverages. At that time, I wasn’t as aware of how to drink in a healthy way. Like many, I embraced a black-and-white, all-or-nothing approach to alcohol. Either I was “blowing it” and taking no consideration to what I drank and how it affected me, or I was refusing to drink at all in order to maintain my health streak.
Now, however, I’ve found balance. There are still times when I overdo it, but for the most part, I am able to drink in a health-conscious way and feel much better because of it.
Here are a few ways in which to counterbalance the ill effects of alcohol and make sure you’re choosing the best drinks.
6 Drinking Do’s and Don’ts–How to Imbibe in a Healthy Way
1. Know the meaning of moderate. We’ve all heard that we should drink in moderation, but what does that actually mean? Most health professionals agree that a healthy range for people of any gender is roughly 1 to 2 drinks maximum within a day and up to 7 within a week. There will surely be days where you go over that 2-drink limit, but if you do, at least try to minimize the amount you drink the rest of the week. One should also take into consideration their size when determining what moderation means for them. If you are smaller than average, you should probably adopt a lower daily or weekly limit.
2. Pick your poison carefully. Not all drinks are created equally. Just as each has a different flavor and may affect you differently, they also all have different calorie counts and nutritional compositions. Liquor makes up the lowest calorie subgroup of all alcoholic drinks, but that doesn’t mean vodka sodas reign supreme. There are several other, higher-calorie options that provide even more nutritional benefits than spirits. Wine, as most know, is often touted for its heart-healthy and immunity-boosting antioxidant properties. Believe it or not, beer also brings a range of benefits that aren’t widely recognized. Most prevalent is the mineral composition of beer, which includes heavy-hitters such as phosphorus, iodine, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Beer also contains small amounts of protein and a fair amount of B vitamins–vegans rejoice!
3. Pre-drink at home. Just as restaurant dishes are usually less healthy than homemade meals, drinks from a restaurant or bar may be as well. Making a cocktail yourself is not only going to save you money but also save you from sipping harmful add-ins such as artificial flavoring, food dyes, and sugar syrups. If you can’t help but go out for the night, try to hit up bars that mix their own cocktails as opposed to pouring pre-mixed drinks. To be safe, you can also stick with bottled beverages like wines and beers so that you know exactly what you’re getting.
4. Be sure to hydrate. They say to alternate every drink with a glass of water, but that’s not the only way to stay hydrated while drinking. One easy-to-integrate option is using water-based mixers such as sparkling or fruit infused water. Coconut water is also a great option. This not only cuts your sugar and calories but also adds to your overall water consumption without needing to actually down a glass every hour on the nose. (That being said, more power to you if you have the drive to do both). Some people also swear by watering down their beer or wine- which alcohol snobs would scoff at. It may be controversial and it will definitely compromise the taste of whatever you’re drinking, but it also slows you down and keeps you hydrated. Perhaps just limit this method to times when you’re drinking something that doesn’t taste that great to begin with.
5. Ditch the sugar when possible. I love a cocktail just as much as the next person (if not more), but I hate that most are full of sugar. If you’re drinking a few in a night, the impact can be massive. I often order the same drinks I know and love but ask for no sugar syrup. Typically, I can’t even taste a difference. For some strong drinks that I know need sweetening up, I’ll ask for a splash of fresh fruit juice or sneakily add in a spare Stevia that I have in my bag. My friends may make fun of me, but they’re great to have on hand for situations just like this.
6. Remember that drinks have calories too. It’s pretty common for people to consider the caloric impact of foods but forget all about energy consumption when it comes to beverages. I’m not suggesting that you become pedantic about logging every drink, but just that you remain conscious about how your choices contribute to your overall energy intake. On the flip side, another common mistake people make is not eating anything all day when they’re planning on a big night of drinking. Drinking on an empty stomach is never healthy. It will likely make you sick, allow the alcohol to hit you harder, and lower your inhibitions, which may cause you to drink and eat more than you would otherwise. Rather than avoiding food before going out, simply make healthy choices. For instance, choosing water-rich foods so you’re hydrated and protein/fiber-rich foods so your stomach is full when you start to drink.
Staying healthy does not mean you need to give up drinking. If you enjoy including alcohol in your life (and it doesn’t pose a threat to your wellbeing), then keep it around… Just be sure to consider these tips whilst doing so.
What other healthy drinking methods have you tried? Let me know in the comments!
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