By Carla Schuit – Registered Dietitian
Cheers to the 2015 holiday season!! I can’t believe the year is ending and the holidays are finally here. Tis the season for family gatherings and holiday parties filled food, friends and beverages. Hot chocolate, egg nog, bloody mary’s , wine and other cocktails are a major part of the holidays season. Whether stopping in for a drink during shopping or a glass of wine at a holiday work party. I have noticed that as I have aged my body doesn’t handle, metabolize or recover from a few holiday cocktails as it used to.
Alcohol is metabolized in multiple tissues including the brain and stomach but mostly in the liver (more about this later). Alcohol is broken down into acetaldehyde which is then metabolized into acetate which is finally broken down to water and carbon dioxide.
How much alcohol one can consume is based on your drinking history, body composition and liver size. However, there are a few things we can do to set us up for success.
- Eat high protein or foods with fat before drinking- some alcohol is absorbed right in your mouth but a lot of absorption happens in the stomach. Eating high protein or foods with healthy fats will line your stomach blocking some of the absorption. Foods such as cheese, guacamole, lean proteins such as chicken, fish and legumes are great options before drinking.
- Alternate drink’s with water- alcohol uses B vitamins for digestion and can be dehydrating. Make sure to have a 1:1 water : alcohol to keep your body hydrated to prevent adverse side effects of excess alcohol.
- Monitor high fat specialty drinks- we all know eggnog and hot chocolate are festive and delicious. A 12 oz Hot Chocolate packs around 400 calories. Remember this needs to be included in any calorie counting you may be doing. Adding one of these hot chocolates daily to your diet will add up to an additional 2,800 calories a week!
- Keep a healthy liver-As stated above your liver does the detoxing of the body and most of the alcohol metabolism. To keep your liver healthy eat foods such as garlic, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, green tea, avocados, turmeric, lemon and walnuts. Drink a lot of water and exercise.
This is the time of year to celebrate and spend time with loved ones. Keep your beverages and meal choices away from celebrations healthy, plant based and portion controlled. If you do this you will be able to treat yourself at parties (with in reason) and not negate the work you have done the rest of the year. Eating healthy meals that promote liver health will make your new year start off healthier and easier. One little trick I have also found with this time of year. Before you go to bed after a holiday party drink a glass of water and take a multivitamin. This gives your body a little extra boost of vitamins, minerals and hydration to wake up ready for the day.
Cheers to your holiday season! Maybe it be filled with health, happiness and love.