Following on from my 12 tips on how to NOT blow out your Christmas, I wanted to write up an article about the one thing that many people indulge (and overindulge) in during the festive seasons. Alcohol. Now I’m not going to go through the big list of naughty-no-no’s about why Alcohol is bad for you and we should all go sit in a big green field sipping Chai Tea. Instead, I am going to give you practical tools that you can use to help manage your way through the festive season! What are the best choices to go for, which ones are the traps to avoid and some tips to help you not go over the top over the Christmas period (no one wants to look like Santa or feel like Courtney Cox come January).

Below are some of the more common alcoholic drinks that you will see over your festive season and their relative Calorie or Kilojoule (kJ) count for one standard drink:

  • Champagne cocktail (1/2 orange juice) = 55 calories or 230 kJ
  • Wine (160 ml) = 120 calories or 500 kJ
  • Full Strength Beer (375 ml) = 140 calories or 590 kJ
  • Mid Strength Beer (375 ml) = 105 calories or 430 kJ
  • Glass of wine (120 ml) = 90 calories or 380 kJ
  • 1 shot of spirit (30 ml) = 67 calories or 280 kJ
  • Espresso Martini = 285 calories or 1190 kJ
  • Daiquiri = 180 calories or 750 kJ
  • Margarita = 110 calories or 460 kJ

Now if we consider that the average daily dietary intake for a healthy person is around 2000 calories or 8700 kJ (and I call this average because everyone is different and it does depend on how much you exercise, if you are trying to lose or gain weight and on the state of your health). So if my maths are correct (and they never are because I am horrible at maths so I used a calculator) then your quick after work 2 beers or 2 wines just cost you over 1000 kilojoules (approx 280 calories) just in liquid. That old chestnut of “not all calories/kilojoules are created equal” rings true here. 1000 kilojoules of alcoholic drinks and 1000 kilojoules of food are going to give your body very different outcomes. It is not just calorie-in-calorie-out, the quality of the calories/kilojoules makes a huge difference to how your body will process it. Alcohol is what we could call – an empty calorie or empty kilojoule. They don’t bring the body any fibre, nutrients or sustenance so it is important that you choose wisely.

What does 2 beers or 2 wines equal when it comes to food?

  • 1/2 a block of Cadbury Fruit and Nut Chocolate
  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a Blueberry Muffin
  • 6-inch Turkey and Ham Subway (a whole one with no sauces)
  • 1/2 a Big Mac Burger
  • 1 egg on an English muffin with cheese
  • 3 and 1/2 Peaches
  • 160g of Beef Steak
  • 1 x small chicken thigh (no skin)
  • 2 and 3/4 slices of Helgas Multigrain Grain Bread

I’m not condemning all alcohol for everyone forever, but it is important that we know what it is we are choosing to drink, and how that might effect us later. It is VERY easy to overflow your energy intake by drinking alcohol, and avoiding food so you can drink is even worse as your body requires certain macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) to help you process some of the alcohol (ie – it is causing you more harm than good).

So how can you get around this?

Well, you can definately skip out on the drinks all together which will void all of the above. HOWEVER – there are some sneaky ways that you can help reduce the over-load whilst still having some fun, enjoying yourself and getting in a extra merry mood!

  • Go for clean spirits, such as vodka or gin, and have it with lime and soda water (the old faithful). Avoid Tonic water – a 200ml glass (just enough to go with your gin) contains up to 10g of sugar! Soda it is!
  • Dilute out your white wine, champagne or even beer with some some soda water. Keeps it bubbly but reduces the density of not only the alcohol, but also the kilojoules you get from drinking them.
  • Drink water between alcoholic drinks. It fills you up, prevents hangovers and reminds you to take it slowly.
  • Eat something as you drink (or before if you can). Will slow absorption and assist alcohol metabolism.
  • Choose mid-strength or light versions of the alcohol. If you’re having spirits – ask for a half nip instead!
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks (such as Vodka, Lime and Soda) with just plain Soda and Lime. To everyone else you won’t look any different but you can guarantee tomorrow you will be feeling a whole lot different!
  • Avoid soft drink and mixers at all costs. A shot of spirit is quite low in calories/kilojoules, but if you add in a sugar-laden mixer (such as a cranberry juice or lemonade) your drink just shot up to over 160 calories (including about 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar)!
  • Small sips – take your time. You don’t have to be ‘Frank-the-Tank’ your party guests already probably love you 😉

Choose wisely so you don’t have to pay for it later.

‘Tis the season to be Jolly so just be the smart kind of Jolly.