Our Celebratory December

By Dr Christina Rahm on 9th Dec 2022

The month of December hosts numerous celebrations. Obviously, the first which comes to mind is Christmas. Many would quickly list Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and even Boxing Day, a holiday celebrated on the first weekday after Christmas; with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day streaming subsequently thereafter.

With the myriad of planned celebratory December festivities, holiday outings with friends, company functions, travels, and of course, the ultimate family get-togethers, there is a massive amount of food, fun, an assortment of Christmas cookies, dozens of pies, and yes, often entirely too much alcohol.

Of course, overconsumption of alcohol can have negative consequences on the body’s organs; the heart, liver, brain, and even the skin due to dehydration. Additionally, having only a couple of drinks can easily add no less than three hundred to five hundred additional calories to your daily allowance, with most libations having little to no nutritional value. For that matter, a glass of wine normally contains about 120 calories, with sweet wine having more, at 165 calories per glass.

Dr Christina Rahm

So, what are we to do with all the socializing functions offering an open bar? Have fun, but simply practicing ‘mindful drinking’ can help us maintain a healthier, more active, less alcohol-consumptive lifestyle throughout the holidays. Remember, one serving of any type of wine, beer, or alcoholic drink will not derail a healthy diet, but three or four, or more, certainly can.

Let’s talk specifics. Alcohol can easily be part of any healthy diet when consumed in moderation. For women, this means no more than one serving per day; for men, no more than two each day. Limiting consumption is good for your liver and reduces the risk of cancer and chronic disease. On average, alcohol contains about seven calories per gram, which is as much as the most calorie-dense nutrient of all; fat, which has nine calories per gram. More alcohol in a drink means more calories. So, the alcohol by volume, or ABV metric on the side of the beer can (or bottle) is a good overview of the calorie content of the beverage. For those inquisitive individuals wanting to know more about the caloric count of various alcoholic drinks, check out the National Institutes of Health calorie calculator here.

You will be surprised as to how much a simple bourbon and coke might be adding to your daily intake of liquid calories. Sweeter drinks will almost always have more calories. If you have a strong craving for a sweet mixed drink, avoid cream-filled options and stick to those mixed with club soda instead of traditional soda or syrupy mixers.

Tips for practicing mindful drinking this Holiday Season:
– Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or tonic water; planning can go a long way towards drinking too much during holiday parties.
– Do not drink on an empty stomach. Always eat, or at least snack while drinking. Alcohol consumption is often linked to an increased appetite and risk factors for weight gain.
– Do not day drink. This habit can lead to heavier drinking and overconsumption of alcohol and calories.
– Order drinks with half shots
– Nurse your drink. It will last longer.
– Enjoy the clarity. Those who have over-indulged know it can lead to hangovers, fatigue, and a groggy head the following morning.
– Count your drinks. Set a limit and stick to it.
– Take supplements like garlic, milk thistle, B complex, trace minerals, magnesium, and silica complexes to help clean and fortify the body with minerals, after even one drink.

So, while mastering your mindful drinking habits this holiday season, put those same disciplines to use with food. Be mindful of the calorie-rich, buffet-style sustenance normally served at holiday functions. Always use portion control and think twice about having seconds.

In the meantime, get rest to help control holiday stress levels with exercise, meditation, yoga and breathing while avoiding over-processed foods. Further, investigate modifying holiday recipes to replace higher calorie ingredients like butter and sugar, with fruits, low-calorie purees, and sugar substitutes. If you are mindfully diligent, you may find you have not only prevented overdrinking and weight gain, but you may even lose a few pounds during this celebratory season!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and have lots of fun shopping on Boxing Day. Just remember to drink and eat mindfully while having a Happy & Healthy Holiday season.

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