Like the wise words from Kool and the Gang – Celebrate Good Times! Engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette parties and The Big Day. Celebrating = boozing. Well not always, but a lot. When it comes to celebrating these momentous occasions, people often ask me “what should I eat, what shouldn’t I eat, what should I eliminate?”
Well I’ll tell you what you don’t have to eliminate…alcohol. If you are a responsible social drinker and you enjoy your glass of wine with dinner and mimosas with your girlfriends for Sunday brunch, then there is no reason to eliminate it entirely while spending time with family and friends at your wedding celebration events. I’ve never been a fan of healthy eating plans that completely eliminate whole food groups, such as gluten-free, fat-free, dairy free. OK, so alcohol is not a “food” group per se, but for a lot of us it is a part of our social lives. I’m in the business of sustainable healthy living and alcohol in moderation is a part of that lifestyle.
But what is moderation? Different for you, different for me, and how do you measure what’s too much? Here’s how I measure it: The level of my hangover – if I have one – the next day.
The internet is saturated with articles on what to do and what not to do and it’s all basically the same practical boring advice regurgitated over and over again. But, you and I live in the real world, and just because we know what’s the right thing to do, doesn’t mean we always remember to do it.
Here’s what you should do: Eat a balanced meal before you go out drinking.
Here’s what you should not do: Go to the all you can eat Chinese buffet or go out on an empty stomach.
The day of your event start loving on some electrolytes. Alcohol dehydrates your body and affects your immune system. So eat a meal that that works to prevent dehydration and strengthens your immune system.
Here’s what you should do: Drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.
Here’s what you should not do: Forget to drink water because you’re too busy having a good time.
Before you even decide what your first cocktail will be, ORDER WATER. Water first. Water always first. If you are the bachelorette party organizer, once your server gets to your table simply state “waters all around”. Ask the server if they can leave a pitcher of water on the table. If it’s accessible it’s more likely you’ll drink it and the waiter won’t have to make multiple trips for water, let them focus on your drinks.
Party Tip #1: Commit to club soda as a mixer and order it “tall”. Some think that ordering a “tall” will get you more alcohol, it doesn’t, you just get a bigger glass, with more club soda. It takes you longer to drink and because of the additional club soda there’s a little more hydration. Collective efforts are what we need to prevent a hangover, so every bit counts.
Here’s what you should do: Keep your drinks to 100 calories each.
Here’s what you should not do: Order drinks that have as many calories as a cheeseburger.
I’m pretty good at keeping my drinks to about 100 calories. Anything more than that has the likelihood to wreak havoc on your waistline, wallet, and digestive system. Here’s my go-to first drink of the night when it’s going to be a long night: A tall vodka and club soda with a splash of cranberry and a wedge of lime. About 90 calories. Bacardi and Diet Coke is about 70 calories. I know diet coke is so processed. I practice what I preach and I would be lying if I told you I never ordered diet coke to curb the calories when I’m out and about. All in moderation.
Easy on the beer. Ever heard of the term “beer hips”? No? Me neither. Because beer doesn’t go to your hips it goes to the “beer belly”. Stick with light beer. Be prepared that the light beer won’t be winning any awards for unique flavors, well, because light beer is watered down beer. I don’t mind skimping on some flavor as long as the calorie count is low and I’m getting the same amount of alcohol. I want less calories not necessarily less alcohol. I always add some lime, gives it a crisp flavor and a little hit of Vitamin C. I like Michelob Ultra and Budweiser Select.
Party tip #2: Don’t ask the bartender for a low calorie drink, it will annoy him and he’ll make you crappy drinks. If the bartender is a she….don’t ask her either, she’ll do an internal eye roll because she doesn’t care about your calories, all she wants is your tip. So make it easy for the bartender and be ready with your order when you step up to the bar. Then be clear on what you want and chances are you’ll get better service and better drinks. It’s a win-win.
Here’s what you should do: Keep it classy ladies and spend more on the clear top shelf liquors like vodkas and rums.
Here’s what you should not do: Pinch pennies at the bar and order well drinks, like McCormicks. Just say NO.
For all who know me, they know I am frugal. But there is always a time and a place to spend more. This is one of those times. Spending a little more at the bar will not break the bank. Some things are just as good when they are generic: window cleaner, ibuprofen and nail polish. I’ll tell you what is NEVER as good generic: DJs, wedding dresses, and liquor.
Cheap generic liquors are distilled once. The more expensive brands are distilled multiple times and the more it’s distilled the better. This process minimizes the congeners. Congeners are bad, they are what make you feel gloomy the next day. We don’t need them, we don’t want them. So consume the least amount of congeners as possible. Bourbon, brandy, whiskey and tequila…the brown liquors have the most congeners. Clear liquors like vodka and white rum have the least.
Party Tip #3: Choose white wine over red wine. Red wine has those creepy little congeners that we don’t want, has more calories, it’s heavier on your stomach, and more importantly it makes your teeth blue. Nothing says “you should drink more white wine” than smiling for a bridesmaids group picture with blue teeth. #FAIL.
Here’s what you should do: Keep it simple.
Here’s what you should not do: Complicate good times with silly juices that contain high fructose corn syrup and its annoying cousin processed artificial flavors.
Stay clear of flavored vodkas and rums (vanilla, coconut, cherry). Stay away from drinks that are different colors of the rainbow. Unless you’re in an all-inclusive organic vegan tropical resort endorsed by Gwenyth Paltrow… that margarita mix is made with high fructose corn syrup. I won’t deny they are tasty, BUT they are more expensive, not of better quality, have added sugars, artificial flavors, more calories and less alcohol content. Sounds like a lose-lose.
Here’s what you should do: End the night before the bars close. Get on your Uber app, don’t drive, and get home safe.
Here’s what you should not do: Go to Denny’s at 4am and order a 3000 calorie breakfast with a Diet Coke.
I have no advice on how not to sabotage the night at a late night restaurant post drinking excursion. It’s too late at that point. By that time you’ve thrown caution to the wind. Late night dining takes it to a whole other level. Good luck.
Your eyes slowly open, hopefully there’s an empty water bottle by you somewhere because you remembered to guzzle a bunch of water before you went to bed. You squint as your eyes open one then the other, and now it’s time to assess the consequences of last night’s festivities.
Hangover survival kit:
2 Advil, big bottle of coconut water, 1 banana, veggie omelet, a big glass of water and an afternoon nap.
Now go back and review because even if you’re not trying to prevent a hangover, this is all still solid nutritional advice that will keep your body strong and healthy for all those good times to come.