Christmas is close at hand, and as if the holiday treats aren’t enough of a challenge, the alcoholic beverages of the season (and the myriad incentives to partake) can be difficult to navigate.
The calories in those spirits add up quickly. And, adding insult to injury, we tend to make poorer food choices when we’re drinking because of the lowering of our inhibitions. But there are options to help you drink “smarter” in this season of festivity.
▪ As with food, certain drinks tend to be an integral part of the holiday experience. In light of this, focus on the beverages you like most or those that are unique to the holiday, rather than partaking in all of the liquid options. Remember, most drink types are easily available throughout the year.
▪ The holidays tend to be a time when expectations run high. Family interactions can trigger stress for many of us. It might be tempting to soothe our discomfort by drinking a bit too much.
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How can we avoid getting off track? Go into the situation with a specific plan of how you can deal with stressful situations. For example, decide ahead of time that if your stepbrother brings up that same issue again, you’ll go to the kitchen for some water with lemon, rather than another glass of wine.
Consider making a pact with a friend or loved one that you’ll hold it to one or two drinks on a given occasion. It’s a bonus if that person is at the occasion in question, so you can actually have the accountability on hand. If it helps, sweeten the deal by striking a wager that you’ll stick to your agreement. (Wow, now I’m condoning drinking and gambling?)
▪ Have a setback or lapse in judgment? Perhaps you overdid it at the Christmas party? Don’t throw in the towel. We all make mistakes! Focus your energy on how you can prevent the same lapse at the next party. Think of the New Year’s Eve festivities as an opportunity to get off to a new start.
▪ As you would when striving to eat clean, stick to beverages in which you recognize all the ingredients. Don’t partake of a drink that contains ... hmmm, what’s in that exactly? Furthermore, steer clear of any drink that contains a premade mixer. They usually contain over a dozen ingredients, the first of which is always sugar and the last of which are things one cannot pronounce. (Not to mention the fact that they don’t really even taste all that great.)
▪ Beware of eggnog and any drink with the word “butter” in it. Such drinks are so full of calories and fat that you may as well eat a few jelly doughnuts. (At least then your stomach would feel full.)
▪ Drink plenty of noncalorie liquids (such as water and green tea) throughout the holidays (and every day, really). You’ll stay optimally hydrated, which will help keep your sobriety in check.
▪ Looking for a low-calorie cocktail idea? A few that rate high on my list include:
• Club soda with a squeeze of lime and/or lemon juice, a shot of vodka and a little stevia for sweetness.
• LaCroix soda water with a shot of rum, gin or vodka and a bit of stevia. (I pick the liquor based on the flavor of the soda).
• Reduced sodium veggie juice (such as V8) with a shot of vodka. Stir in a little chili powder for some kick if you desire.
▪ Lastly, be mindful when you imbibe. Focus on the flavor, texture and even the appearance of your drink as you sip on it. No chugging allowed!
Have a favorite seasonal beverage that is a part of your holiday tradition? Pick one special event (such as Christmas Eve) and indulge in a small serving. Savor every moment of the experience, partaking of it slowly and mindfully as you focus on each taste. When we savor the experience, we tend to feel satisfied with a smaller portion. Remind yourself that the majority of the pleasure is in the first few sips. You don’t need a large serving!
▪ Most important (and this should go without saying), don’t drink and drive. Make a transportation plan and stick to it.
This holiday season, I hope you can relish reflecting on all you have to be thankful for. I sincerely hope your health is on the list. Next, please remind yourself that a holiday is only one day: Don’t overdo it all month. It’s a holiDAY, not a holiMONTH!
Maggie Williamson is a health coach, NASM-certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist and weight-loss specialist. She has a master’s in social work and a bachelor’s in psychology. Her business, BoiseStrongMom.com, specializes in working with women seeking to improve their health and well-being.