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Healthy Habits: How Alcohol Fits

May 11, 2018

Alcohol is a tricky subject. We love it- it’s a huge part of our culture, we have a taste for it, it makes us feel good, and it’s a social activity. At the same time though, alcohol really doesn’t provide out body with any kind of useful nutrients. So, is it, or can it, be part of a health and wellness focused lifestyle? The answer is, maybe... it all depends.

 

Let’s break down some nutritional facts about alcohol:

  • Each gram has 7 calories (as opposed to 4 cals per gram of protein or carbs and 9 cals per gram of fat). The average beer or glass of wine has anywhere from 100-150 calories, and a shot of liquor (1.5 oz.) has roughly 100.

  • Alcohol is absorbed in the blood very quickly, unless you have food in your tummy, which is why we often eat and drink together.

 

 

Sounds bad, right? Just like anything, only in excess. In the same way that it is possible to have a slice of pizza or a cupcake every once in a while and still make progress, it is also possible to enjoy a drink or two and still live a healthy lifestyle. The caloric value of the drink will play in to that day’s calorie total, but as long as you are eating the right amount of calories (less than you burn for fat loss, more than you burn for muscle growth, or about equal for maintenance), then alcohol isn’t any better or worse than any other junk food.

 

So here’s the deal- you need to consider the choices that you personally make when you are drinking: if you can enjoy a nice beverage, still make healthy food choices, and stay within a reasonable amount of calories, then there is no reason to worry about imbibing every so often.  However, if for you, one good drink turns into three or four, bar snacks, and possibly a hangover that continues the poor choices into the next day, it may be wise to refrain sometimes. Of course, sometimes it’s also okay NOT to choose to refrain, enjoy yourself, and move on.

 

I am the latter example. I am a total lightweight. After one good drink, I’ll be feeling happy and will probably be excited about having another, some tater tots, and allllllll the chips and salsa, even though I would not normally make those decisions. Each time that I am going out with friends, having a date night, or staying in with the girls, I weigh the options and make a choice about whether or not I want to indulge in that specific situation.

 

Sometimes, I feel like adding alcohol really doesn’t add anything to the experience (except unnecessary extra calories and complications about how to get home safely), and I know that the results the next day won’t be worth it. Sometimes, I just really want to have a damn drink, so I go for it. Making it a conscious decision helps to make me more mindful of when and what I choose to drink.

 

Having a health and wellness focused lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself of the indulgences that you really enjoy. It means that you empower yourself by making conscious decisions about how and when to incorporate those things into your life. It is possible, but it takes some practice and some failures to figure it out. Give yourself some time and some grace, and you’ll figure it out eventually. At least, that’s what I tell myself each time I wake up hungover after a night out!

 

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