Drink less, enjoy more

At this time of year for many of us alcohol will play a part in our festivities. How much alcohol affects us depends on our liver enzymes and gender. Women tend to suffer worse short and long-term effects. Some of us genetically have fewer processing enzymes and can tolerate alcohol less well. The key thing therefore is to know your limit so you can have a good time but minimise the negative effects. Follow my tips so to help you look after your body when having a celebratory tipple.


Eat before you drink

Protein and fat help to slow the release of alcohol from the stomach. The faster alcohol is released the more likely you are to drink more than you planned and suffer the effects. If out for a meal have your starter before your first drink and if out for just drinks order bar nuts to supply protein and fat. For unplanned drinks keep a bag of nuts and seeds at work to quickly have before you leave.

Time is of the essence

It takes about an hour for the liver to process one unit of alcohol so plan how many drinks to have and pace yourself. To help prevent yourself from gong with the flow of everyone else’s drinking order small glasses of wine and single spirit shots or on your round get just the mixer.

Hydrate as you go

To help prevent hangover dehydration and the associated headache and foggy head have a drink of water before your first alcoholic drink, this also helps to satisfy thirst and may mean you drink less quickly. Order water with meals and between, or alongside, each alcoholic drink. Also have a large glass of water before bed.

Colour therapy

Dark coloured drinks can lead to more side effects than light so try white instead of red wine and gin or vodka instead of whisky or brandy if you are likely to have more than a couple. For a regular small glass of wine red is the better choice due to the antioxidants. Bubbles tend to make us feel the effects of alcohol sooner, making us lose our resolve and drink more so keep the fizz to just the one.

Keep your balance

The sugar and alcohol in alcoholic drinks can lead to a double whammy of a blood sugar spike and the resulting low with cravings for more drinks and foods you were planning to avoid. The advice above should help you keep better balance but also have a smoothie ready by your bed help re-balance and get you back to sleep if you wake at night in a sugar dip.

The morning after

If you overindulged, avoid caffeine to help bring you back to life as it may dehydrate you and irritate an already delicate digestive system, but do have breakfast. Simple beans on toast and a banana are ideal to give you steady energy and help replenish lost minerals.


This information is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, please contact your doctor if you have concerns about your health.   © Foods for Life December 2012.