Many of us will now be celebrating the fact that Dry January is over and we can go back to boozing and cruising our way through life. Post-work drinks anyone? For some of us who weren’t disciplined enough to make it to the end of the month, well there’s always next year. For a few of us who will carry this habit into February and beyond, I salute you. But for most of us, the next few months will be about getting back to our ‘normal’ routine without binge-drinking and piling on the pounds. How can we have our cake and eat it too? Or in this case, how can we have our cocktails without ended up looking like a bloated hot mess in our summer bikini? Below are a few of my top tips for enjoying a tipple here and there without consuming a huge excess of sugar and calories.
It may seem obvious but so many of us overlook the importance of this basic rule. Drink water during the hours prior to your big night, drink 1 glass of water for every alcoholic drink and down a few glasses of water that night before you go to bed. Alcohol is a diuretic; it will purge your body of fluids and electrolytes. Drinking water will help keep you alert, hydrated and will reduce your hangover the next day.
Choose Mixers Wisely.
Mixing with orange juice or coca-cola? You are pouring extra sugar into you and further dehydrating yourself. Double-dehydration will make your hangover much worse than it needs to be. Try mixing with soda water, diet tonic or seltzer; these are all calorie-free and more importantly, sugar-free.
Let’s talk cocktails.
Watch out for cocktails with dodgy fruit purees; these are not actually fruit, they are more likely to be fruit flavoured sugar-pulp. Try to find cocktails with a low-sugar base. Besides, who wants a cocktail that’s stock full of fruit juices and purees? You’re not here to have a fruit smoothie, you’re here to get tipsy. Am I right? Personally, I always search for cocktails that are virtually straight liquor with a dash of mixer. Punchy… but it’s a stronger drink, better flavour and less calorific; triple win.
Wine is fine.
This is pretty much my life motto. But stick to red wine, it’s lower in sugars and may actually have health benefits. Does everyone remember that article by the Huffington Post? If you are sugar-sensitive like me, you will actually feel the difference when drinking red as opposed to white or rose. Less of a spike in blood sugar and less of a hangover the next day. Don’t waste your time finding sulfite-free wine, there is no scientific proof that sulfites are actually bad for your health.
Avoid Hangover Munchies.
My sister and I were recently strolling through Dollis Hill on a Sunday afternoon and spotted a Domino’s delivery. She turned to me and said, “Someone is hungover…” Perhaps it was presumptuous of us to assume that the only possible occasion to eat Domino’s pizza is when suffering from a stinking hangover. But it is true that when we are hungover, our food choices tend to be pretty poor. The combination of alcohol, sugar and dehydration throws our body out of whack and leaves us with crazy cravings. My advice? Prep your hangover munchies the night before or ignore your cravings completely and eat plenty of fruit and veg to get your body back to normal.
Thankfully, websites like Bodybuilding.com have provided us with handy guides like this one to help us make good decisions when on a night out. Remember, the carbs are the sugars and are much more important than the calories in my opinion. The first thing you should do when you get home is drink water. If you’re not too drunk, make a cup of herbal tea and try to stay awake for 30 minutes to drink enough water before you go to bed. When you wake up the next day, sometimes you may find that your body will be craving sugars and carbohydrates. Ride it out. Drink water, have a latte or some green tea and make sure it’s real hunger and not the false hunger of low blood sugar.
Alcohol, like anything else, should be enjoyed in moderation. Find a drinking pattern, for lack of better terminology, that works for you. Moderation could be social drinks after work on a Friday, or a night out every other Saturday, a monthly pub lunch or a small glass of wine a few evenings a week. Everyone is different and I am not here to tell you what is “right” or “wrong.” Most experts will tell you that drinking socially in moderation is better than depriving yourself and then going out on a binge. Personally, I would strongly agree but for the over-worked, over-stressed, in need of a release, this is easier said than done! Take my advice and avoid alcohol entirely when you are stressed. And when you do fancy letting loose and getting tipsy, hopefully the above tips will help ensure you do it in a healthy way.