Healthy Drinking 101
What is healthy drinking? Well, we all know that too much alcohol isn’t great for us. High consumption, particularly binge drinking, has been linked to everything from bowel cancer and diabetes to fertility issues and difficulties with weight management.
But that doesn’t mean that booze should be demonised, nor does it mean we should all give up for good! Alcohol can play a role in a balanced lifestyle and for some is an integral part of the way they relax and engage in social activity. I myself love a good glass of red wine at the end of the week or a margarita on a night out.
But with the opening up of restaurants and bars, we may find that our drinking habits trend upwards. Whilst for a period of time this is normal, and after the year we have had, very fair, there are some hacks that we can introduce to soften the impact it can have on our health, whilst also enjoying ourselves.
Read on for my top healthy drinking tips and tipples.
SWAP OUT OLD HABITS
Always head straight to the drinks when you enter a social gathering? Or do you find you rely on alcohol to get the conversation flowing and to combat the small talk? If this sounds like you, there are some tricks to incorporate that don’t involve you slurring your words by the end of the night – I have learnt first hand!
Opt for a non-alcoholic drink. Sometimes, having something in your hands can give you that feeling of confidence and can stop people from asking you the dreaded “why are you not drinking?”.
Find a partner in crime. If you have a friend who is like-minded and wants to also go booze-free for the eve, stick together and sip on soda and limes whilst you gossip.
Invest some time into working on your social confidence. I really like implementing positive affirmations when I feel nervous about going to an event when I don’t want to drink. Try out – I will have fun, regardless of alcohol OR – It is my choice to drink and mine alone.
OPT FOR LOWER ALCOHOL OPTIONS
With the rise of lower-alcoholic drinking, there are so many of these options that have less calories, sugar and booze percentage, helping you to enjoy the same beverage without the potentially unhealthy side effects. In turn, these lower sugar and alcohol options can leave you feeling less dehydrated, groggy and potentially help you avoid a nasty hangover! I’m a big fan of Seedlip, Dash, MEDA’s Medatini and CleanCo. for healthy drinking.
GIVE YOURSELF AN EXCUSE
If you know you are susceptible to that “just one more” pressure, come prepared with an excuse. If you know (or pretend) you have a workout the following morning, an important deadline or a meeting (zoom or not!), then you have a great excuse to help you circumnavigate that “last-drink” trajectory that may end in more pain than fun!
AVOID SUGAR FILLED BEVERAGES
Whilst reaching for a non-alcoholic option can be a great way to avoid alcohol consumption, many mocktails, mixers and fizzy drinks are packed with sugars or artificial sweeteners. Most tonics have more sugar than colas, and whilst soda and lime is a good option, it’s not the most “exciting” kid on the block! Always check the ingredients before you dive in and before you know it, have consumed a sugar bomb.
DRINK SOMETHING YOU ENJOY
Instead of choosing a drink for the sake of it, find the drink that you genuinely enjoy sipping on. Mindfully drink by enjoying the smell, flavour and feeling you get from drinking. This slower way of drinking gives us a change to appreciate alcohol and really appreciate the experience.
Eating food before or with your drink will help slow the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, therefore reducing or slowing down the effects of the alcohol. Aim to have a meal or snack that contains protein and fat, with some carbohydrates (not too many though as there are usually plenty in the drinks). Nuts, olives, hummus, and anything with avocado are all good options. Margaritas with a side of guac anyone?
INCLUDE A “SPACER” BETWEEN DRINKS
A ‘spacer’ is a non-alcoholic beverage that you consume between drinks that do not contain alcohol. Ideally, this would be water, to help with the dehydrating effects of alcohol. The idea is that you stay hydrated and you slow yourself down so that you don’t become intoxicated and thus have to deal with the consequences the morning after. Nobody likes a hangover.
ADD A SPRITZ
Although it might not come up high on your list of favourites, there is a reason that vodka soda and lime is a frequent choice. Adding soda water over fizzy drinks/juices reduces the added sugars when drinking and can help keep you hydrated, plus it is easier on the waistline. If you can’t wrap your head around the lack of flavour, order your cocktail of choice, ask for no added sugar syrups, and top it up with fizzy water to keep it lasting longer!
CLARISSA’S COCKTAILS OF CHOICE FOR HEALTHY DRINKING
ONE FOR THE NO-ALCOHOL DRINKERS
Pop half an orange slice, 1tsp maple syrup, 1tbs pomegranate seeds, and some torn mint leaves into a glass and muddle.
Add ice cubes, pour over soda/ sparkling water and 1tsp pomegranate seeds.
Top with a cinnamon stick for extra deliciousness.
Mix 50ml of mezcal or tequila, one bottle of MEDA’s chilli pineapple cordial, a good splash of lime juice and top up with soda. Serve in a short glass with ice and a touch of salt on the rim.
THE PIMPED-UP G&T
Mix 50ml of your favourite gin (I love Sipsmith) with DASH natural fruit-flavoured sparkling water, fresh basil and a splash of lime juice. Pour in a long glass over ice.