Holiday Survival Guide:  Tips & Tricks for Drinking During the Holidays (While You Fitness)

Holiday Survival Guide: Tips & Tricks for Drinking During the Holidays (While You Fitness)

It's fair to say for many of us alcohol consumption skyrockets over the holiday season. Between family parties, work parties, dinners with friends and, depending on your line of work, you may also be wining-and-dining clients, too! The holiday season ends up being 3 to 4 weeks of non-stop booze filled partying. It's no wonder so many people end up quitting alcohol and start hitting the gym hard in January!  SHOCKER...

Working with clients and new gym goers over the years, we tend to see the same behavior over and over again. January comes around and people are shocked and disheartened at how much weight they've gained over the holidays.  They then proceed to set unrealistic and unsustainable goals, only to give up on themselves after 2 to 3 weeks of trying. . . .

You might be wondering why I'm bringing this up in a blog about alcohol. When you keep in mind how you might respond to your December choices once January rolls around, this may help you navigate and determine what type of holiday you want to have.

 You have 3 options over the holidays:

  1. Eat and drink what you want when you want no F%#ks given!

  2. Use moderation:  Have a few drinks and treats,while maintaining awareness around your choices 

  3. Stay on track and continue to progress towards your goals (minimal indulgences) 

No option is right or wrong but by simply choosing, you: make a decision, understand the outcome of your choices and are okay with how you may feel as a result in January.

Personally I love the holiday season and choose moderation. I like to enjoy treats from my favorite bakery, a glass or two of wine multiple days a week and all the turkey and potato dinners I can eat!

The reality is, most of us know we go overboard over the holidays with food and drink consumption. Guess what?  It's okay. The problem comes for a lot of people once January hits. So many clients feel down and are hard on themselves as a result of how they look and feel. Let's try to avoid this cycle. Keep it simple. Make a choice, understand the outcome and keep moving forward!

Before we get into tips for drinking over the holidays, let's cover some basics when it comes to understanding alcohol and its possible effects. 

What is considered a drink?

A “standard” drink contains 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol and will take the body approximately 1 hour to eliminate it from your system. Here are general estimates for different beverages you may consume*:  

  • Small shot of liquor : 1 Hour

  • Pint of beer: 2 Hours

  • Large glass of wine: 3 Hours

* Please keep in mind this is generalized and may vary based on age, weight, medications, disease etc. 

What happens when we drink alcohol?

Once we ingest alcohol it goes to our stomach where about 20% is absorbed into our bloodstream.  The remaining 80% is absorbed in the intestines moving into the bloodstream making its way to the liver where it is metabolized.  

Did you know that the liver performs more than 500 functions in the body? It's important we look after it! Major functions of the liver include:

  • Metabolizing Alcohol and drugs

  • Bile Production

  • Metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins and fats

  • Vitamin and mineral storage

  • Filtering the blood (removing toxic chemicals from the body)

  • Immunological function

**Something to keep in mind during the holidays season:  After binge drinking (yes,  that's what can happen) you may be more likely to get sick as you decrease your body's defensive mechanisms to fight off a cold, virus, or other bacterial or viral

 A 2015 study in the journal Alcohol found that binge drinking can reduce infection-fighting white blood cells known as monocytes in the hours after peak intoxication, essentially weakening your immune system.

Now that you understand some of the basics when it comes to alcohol let's look at how to survive the Holidays!!

Alcoholic beverages and their respective calories

Tips to reduce the effects of alcohol and the dreaded hangover?

  1. Eat before you drink.  Having food in your stomach can slow down the speed alcohol is absorbed. Tip: Consume a meal with fat, protein and fiber before drinking.  Try a ribeye steak with veggies!!

  2. Match alcohol with water. For every drink you have, follow up with a glass of water.

  3. Stick to one alcoholic beverage per hour. Drink slowly! It's so easy to drink sugary cocktails fast, so make sure you keep an eye on the clock and stick to one per hour.  If you have a tendency to finish drinks fast, try having a simple drink on the rocks. It's better suited for sipping. 

  4. Stop consuming alcohol a few hours before bed. Although it may feel like you can fall asleep fast with a few drinks in you, alcohol disrupts your sleep. Falling asleep is the easy part but staying asleep is where the problems arise due to disruptions in your sleep cycle as alcohol is metabolized. Best case scenario: you are sober and hydrated heading to bed!

  5. Minimizing your consumption of dark coloured beverages such as brandy, whisky and red wine may reduce hangover effects. Chemicals called congeners, which result from the fermentation process can contribute to hangovers or worsen their severity. Congeners are found in larger amounts in dark liquors

Not every night will be perfect, so if you do wake up with a hangover. . . 

Tips to help get you over that dreaded hangover!

  1. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate some more.  Consume plenty of water and electrolytes. My favourite hangover cure is coconut water!!

  2. Skip your morning coffee and opt for more water!

  3. Consume good carbohydrates with your breakfast. Yes, you're hungover but that doesn't mean you should reach for cookies or leftover pizza for breakfast. Your blood sugar will be low after consuming alcohol so having a balanced breakfast will do you the world of good! Think carbs, protein and fats. My go to “hangover” food is a smoked salmon omelet with home fries and a handful of supplements!! I'll be honest, if I'm hungover, veggies are the last thing on my mind so I'll just make sure to take my multi-vitamin supplements! 

  4. Sleep in after a night out! If you went to bed with a nice little buzz or worse,  chances are you had a terrible night sleep, waking up multiple times sweating and needing water. If you don't need to be up at the crack of dawn, take that extra time to sleep.  Your body will thank you! If that's not an option try to sneak in a mid-day nap :)

Lastly if you do take the moderation approach over the holidays follow my daily non-negotiables to help keep you on track over the holidays

Daily Non-Negotiables

  1. Consume protein and veggies with every meal

  2. Minimize snacking between meals 

  3. Minimize liquid calories. Choose options with less sugar 

  4. Cook your own meals as often as possible

  5. If you are out and need to snack go for the veggie/protein options

  6. Eat dinner before drinking alcohol

  7. Keep alcohol consumption to 1 or 2 drinks a fews days per week 

  8. Prioritize sleep

  9. Keep up your exercise routine and get as many steps in as you can daily (minimum 10,000)

Use this blog as a cheat sheet to get you through the holidays and remember you can go hard, use moderation or stay consistent with your current routine. There is no right or wrong approach, do what makes sense for you, your goals and your mindset for not only December but January too. 

We want to hear from you!  What approach will you take over the holidays?   Leave a comment below and share this with one person you think could benefit from it!

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