It’s the holidays again and with it come all those holiday office parties, family get-togethers, and meeting friends for dinner and drinks. It’s a season designed for fun and warm relationships with everyone you know. Because of that, it’s also a time when many people are inclined to drink more alcohol than usual. That’s why I’ve put together a list of 5 easy ways to stay healthy and get more fun out of your holidays by simply drinking more sensibly, or not at all! Let me explain what I mean.
5 Ways to Sensibly Manage Your Holiday Alcohol
First of all, let me say this about alcohol drinking. You should never feel pressured to drink alcohol at a party, or any other time, if you really don’t want to. There are a lot of nonalcoholic drinks to choose from and you can have just as much fun sipping a mug of flavored coffee as you can alcohol. You might even like to volunteer to be the designated driver for those who do want to drink.
Second, we’ve all been to holiday parties where someone has had too much to drink. As a result, the festive holiday mood and good cheer of everyone around can be immediately affected. You don’t want over-celebrating to bring the party to a crashing halt or ruin the party for yourself or anybody else. With that in mind, here are a few healthy tips for sensible holiday alcohol drinking.
1. Know your limit. This has to be the cardinal rule of healthy alcohol consumption. It is important to know how many drinks you can have without losing control, or getting sick. There may be a lot of heavier, spicier, exotic foods at parties than you’re used to eating and mixing alcohol can be a recipe for illness. A good rule of thumb is no more than 1 drink an hour to avoid drunkenness and/or feeling sick. This is especially important if you have to drive yourself home.
2. Drink with food. Eat a little protein appetizers with your drink to slow down the absorption of alcohol into your blood. Peanuts, mixed nuts, cheese cubes are all good choices. Eat more protein at the main meal with your drink as well.
3. Alternate drinks. Don’t feel that you have to keep accepting an alcoholic drink just to be sociable. Alternate them with a nonalcoholic drink like ice water, soda, iced tea, coffee, or juice. This helps keep your blood alcohol concentration lower and your body better hydrated as alcohol tends to dehydrate and make you feel drunk faster.
4. Beware high strength “party mix” drinks. Popular drinks at many parties include those special “trash can punches”. These are very high alcohol content mixtures of different types of alcohol (whiskey, vodka, gin, etc) into a large container with fruit juices to flavor. They taste good but are very high in sugar and high intensity alcohol. They can sideline you fast with headaches, dizziness and/or nausea. Also, be aware that drinks mixed with “diet” sodas or mixes can cause you to absorb too much alcohol too fast. Sweeteners in these drinks speed up the process of emptying of your stomach and allow more alcohol to enter your bloodstream quicker.
5. Create fun, not mayhem. Ask yourself honestly, does your drinking impair your sociability? Some people become argumentative, or very unhappy, after drinking during holidays. If your behavior changes radically, stay clear of alcohol at social gatherings. Stick to nonalcoholic drinks and strike up a lively conversation with someone you don’t know. You’ll be happier and you will have made a new friend.
There you have a few simple, sensible tips to help you stay on course with holiday alcohol drinking and remain the life of the party! Remember that drinking alcohol is always an option, not a requirement and to respect the rights of others who don’t wish to drink alcohol for whatever reason.
Whether you decide to drink or not, have fun, enjoy your family, coworkers, and friends at all your parties and have a safe, healthy, happy holiday season!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
Hints for Sensible, Moderate and Responsible Alcohol Consumption and Party Hosting, http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/hints/holiday.html
Alcohol in Moderation http://www.drinkingandyou.com/site/pdf/SENSIBLE%2520DRINKING.pdf
Artificial Sweeteners and Blood Alcohol http://www.lifescript.com/health/centers/diabetes/tips/artificial_sweeteners_lead_to_higher_blood_alcohol.aspx
photo credit: marthastewart.com