This is the time of year when saying, “bottoms up” may effect the way your bottom looks! I notice that my patients often overlook their ‘liquid calories,’ particularly those that come from alcoholic beverages. It may seem obvious that a frozen Margarita served in a glass the size of a small swimming pool could be excessive, but did you know that a nice, clean, colorless gin and tonic packs over 300 calories? (And that could be even higher, depending on who is pouring and how much is being poured!)
When it comes to wine, it is true that the resveratrol (an antioxidant that has been linked to heart health) may be good for you, but your heart is close to your waistline, and adding inches to your mid-section is not going to make your heart happy. If you drink wine, do so in moderation, and if you don’t drink, don’t start drinking to protect your heart. A balanced diet and exercise will boost heart health more effectively.
But if your summer bar-b-que doesn’t seem the same with a frosty glass in your hand, here are some tips to help you not tip the scale and not get too tipsy:
v Drink slowly. Try not to chug down your drink quickly because the faster you drink, the more you’ll probably consume. Taking it down a notch will help you pace yourself and prevent getting sick from overconsumption.
v Quench your thirst with non-alcoholic beverages. Have sparkling water, seltzer, or water before drinking alcohol.
v Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Alcohol without food can cause an initial decrease in blood sugar and make you feel dizzy and lightheaded.
v Be a defensive drinker. Although you may have good intentions of only having one drink and not eating too much, alcohol can decrease your defenses and cause you to consume a lot more food than you originally planned. If you’re in a restaurant, try to order your food early on and be careful about not sitting too close to the bread basket. If you’re going to a party, perhaps have a small snack before you get there.
v Choose less caloric drinks. Non-alcohol or light beer or wine spritzers will help you cut calories and still be the life of the party. Wine will generally be lower in calories than a mixed drink which includes spirits like vodka, gin, or scotch. If you are going to have a mixed drink, try to use non-caloric mixers like club soda or diet soda.
v Make every other drink a beverage without alcohol. Since alcohol has a dehydrating effect, it’s important to replenish fluids with water or non-caloric beverages as mentioned.
v Make yourself the designated driver and bypass the booze for the night. Your friends and your body will thank you!