Over the recent years a trend of extreme health and safety at all costs has developed, and it is affecting the way we see driving, drinking, our eating habits and our daily activity. Don’t get me wrong, we can all benefit from a more health-oriented way of thinking - going about our daily lives stronger, more focused and generally just feeling good. The problem I have with things getting too politically correct and safe is that it kind of negates the need for the individual to be responsible for his or her own actions and try to indulge in certain behaviors in moderation, instead of being bullied by people around them and/or the government into thinking a certain way or behaving according to some “master plan” that is guaranteed to make everything better.
A good example of this bullying by forcing newfangled social conventions on us is the “lose weight, stay fit, only drink water and eat grass” movement that is gaining strength as it is being perpetuated by the media. It used to be quite alright to have a few drinks with friends on the weekend and even a bit of binge drinking during the holidays and special social occasions was considered normal. We all have to let of some steam from time to time and enjoy ourselves. But what about staying healthy? There are a lot of overweight and obese people that are changing to a healthier diet because they genuinely are at risk of heart failure and other serious conditions, and there are also younger people who enjoy working out and want to prevent these potential problems that can occur in the future by being careful about what they put in their bodies.
Moderation is the key
Does staying healthy and relatively fit mean that you have to give up all alcohol forever? Of course not – only fanatics deal with black and white solutions. Our bodies are made to be tough and resilient, so as long as we don’t push ourselves too far we can engage in a bit of “bad behavior” every so often. There is a way to incorporate alcohol in even the healthiest of meal plans and strictest of diets, but you need to know what you are doing and have some basic knowledge on how your body works. First of all, the can get used to a lot of abuse, especially if you built up resistance slowly. This is why it is important to have a plan in place to effectively control your drinking in order to stay healthy and avoid becoming an alcoholic:
- If you are alone at home a glass of wine or a can of beer is just fine, but avoid hard liquor or drinking more than a single serving of your preferred alcoholic beverage.
- Avoid drinking in the early hours of the day. The body runs on a precise biological clock and it has phases of high and low activity throughout the day. By drinking in the afternoon you are making sure that your body is up to speed and ready to take on the task of dissolving the alcohol.
- Never drink on an empty stomach. There is a reason why in almost every old culture drinking is associated with feasts or small snacks. You can even find lists of preferred drinks to go with certain meals right here on the internet, and you would be surprised how many healthy meals call for some white wine. So be sure to check out some cool recipes – you won’t get too drunk too quick and you will take your taste buds for a magic ride.
- If you are on a weight loss diet, say no to beer. Beer is a tricky thing, as it can take quite a bit of it to get a good buzz going, it has quite a few calories, makes you bloated and is an extremely effective diuretic – meaning that it makes you go to the bathroom a lot which drains you of water and nutrients. So if you are out with friends a bit of wine or some stronger drink might be a better choice as you will drink less of it overall, if you don’t do 10 shots in a row but instead sip your beverage like a true gentleman or lady.
- Don’t mix drinks, stick to what suits you best. The comedian Kat Williams has a joke about how black people drink vs. how white people drink that serves well to demonstrate my point. What he says is that a black person will have a drink that he likes, and he will stick with it and drink it on all occasions, possibly having another “backup drink” if the first one is unavailable, while white people will usually go out with the intention of getting wasted and drink several different beverages throughout the night. Choose the first option and you will find that you will not only be limiting calorie intake, but you will be better able to control your drinking and you will know when to stop and how you react to the drink.
- Be careful when choosing cocktails. Some cocktails are very deceptive, especially the “girlish ones” and tropical cocktails. They might be a little lighter in alcohol content, but they will be packed with sugar and high on calories. Mixing shots of tequila with beer is a very bad combination as the diuretic properties of the beer will be enhanced by all the salt you consume with your tequila shots. Cocktails that have salt along the rim of the glass will have you fool of sodium in no time. A single Long Island Ice Tea is a potent mix, but it will go a long way and you can drink it slowly as no one will be egging you on to down it in one shot (unless you have chosen your drinking buddies poorly). There are lists of good cocktails which go with your diet with low-to-moderate calorie counts available, so do your research before heading out.
- Have a light snack ready to go if you don’t have immediate access to food. The problem with drinking is that you go out, don’t eat anything while drinking and then get really hungry and carried away with fast food orders after all the partying. Munching on snacks like chips and peanuts while drinking is also a good way to add more unnecessary fat and salt to your diet, and this is why I prefer going to restaurants. Having some carbohydrates at hand will be very helpful, especially if you are dancing as well as drinking, and a protein bar can be just the thing you need to get you through the night. Have a small meal waiting for you at home instead of going to a drive through on your way back from the club.
- Drink a fair amount of water throughout the night. Instead of having a can of Red Bull beside your Vodka, ask for a glass of water every now and then. This will help you stay properly hydrated and it will make it easier to pace yourself.
These are the golden rules of drinking in moderation. It is important to try and drink less as this will not only benefit your liver, which can only deal with so much alcohol, but will enable you to have fun while still limiting calorie intake. Remember, drinks are very tricky as they will fill you up with calories that your brain doesn’t really count and you will be more likely to deviate from a well thought out healthy diet if you are drunk and driving by a fast food joint.