How to avoid the holiday hangover
Tips to cut down your alcohol intake these holidays
Lite n’ Easy dietitian Melissa Holloway, shares tips on why it’s important to keep your alcohol intake in check these holidays as well as strategies to survive the party season while still being part of the fun.
While 2020 has been a year of unprecedented events, there is no doubt that the silly season will still be in full force this year. As always, alcohol and treats abound even before Christmas day hits. So you might feel worried about seeing your health goals fly out the window.
Reasons to keep an eye on alcohol intake
1. Weight gain and management
The explosion of low-carb alcoholic drinks in the last few years might make you think that the calories in alcohol comes from carbohydrates alone. The reality is, most of the calories in alcoholic drinks comes from their alcohol content. Alcohol per gram has a much higher calorie load than carbohydrates. So swigging back a few beers or G&Ts on a sunny afternoon will add a fair few calories to your daily intake because of the alcohol content. In terms of weight management, we should consider these drinks much the same as you would a can of soft drink. Four cans of beer is not far off in calories as drinking four cans of coke. So if you’re trying to focus on weight management, alcohol might be impacting your goals. The other side of having a few too many is easily described in one word: hangover. And with hangovers, think: greasy, salty takeaways, couch time and more greasy, salty takeaways. No love for your waistline there!
2. Sleep quality
Whilst having a drink or two (or three) at night might make you feel relaxed and settle you into sleep easier, having a few drinks in the evening before bed can lead to poorer sleep quality, as it reduces the time spent in the most restorative period of the sleep cycle (REM). Poor sleep quality can result in higher production of a hormone in your body that triggers hunger and may increase our desire for less healthy foods. Not to mention it reduces our willingness to stick to our goals. Feeling fresh each morning is no doubt going to keep you feeling motivated and energised throughout the day and prevent you reaching for junk food as a pick-me-up.
3. Overall health
With all of the talk about the benefits of antioxidants in wine, it can be easy to think we are doing ourselves a favour by having a cheeky red after work (devastating I know). Alcohol is classed as a carcinogen, and when it comes to long-term health the less you have, the better.
Tips to survive the silly season
If you’ve decided that you want your health to come first, then it can be a good idea to reduce your alcohol intake.
Start with planning a great reason to drink less, or even a reason to not drink at all.
- Choose an uplifting activity to do, whether it be after, or instead of the after-work catch up. Have a sparkling water with some refreshing citrus, a quick gossip with the work-mates, and then go out to your favourite exercise class, a swim at the beach or meet a friend for a relaxing walk.
- Book in a favourite activity or treat yourself with a massage the day after an event. Use the money you might otherwise spend on alcohol – choose something that you really need to be hangover-free for.
If you don’t want to miss out on all the action, plan out what you want to drink might help.
- Have a non-alcoholic drink between drinks, preferably water to stay hydrated and help stave off the dreaded hangover. Sparkling water with cucumber and lime or mint is super refreshing.
- Plan what and how much you intend to drink. Splurge on a favourite cocktail to start off the night, thoroughly enjoy it and savour it. Then move on to other lighter drinks later on.
- Choose low or no alcohol drinks. New brands are coming up with delicious and refreshing alcohol free drinks, so these can be a great alternative while still enjoying the fun. Lower alcohol beers have almost half the alcohol content. They are around 30% lower in calories than regular strength beers and even low-carb beers. You probably won’t notice the difference, but your body and brain will thank you for it!
And perhaps most importantly, Christmas is a time to enjoy being with friends and family. If you over indulge, don’t linger on it or restrict your food intake. Maybe incorporate more veggies in your next meal and go for a walk to burn off any extra calories consumed. Forgive yourself and move on.
Why Lite n’ Easy?
Melissa Holloway is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with extensive experience working in foodservice across a range of industries including aged care, elite sport and in hospitals. She is passionate about ensuring people have access to not only fresh and healthy food options, but also that people get to choose food that they truly enjoy. As a busy Mum, Melissa loves preparing healthy and delicious food for her family.