As the weather warms up, our thoughts turn to summer, complete with rosé-drenched rooftop parties, backyard barbecues and picnics in the park. If you're like most of my clients, you may be able to navigate your plate, choosing crudités over cheese and crackers, but where you might still be sabotaging your health efforts is in your cup.
Most people don't realize that apart from the empty calories and being a depressant, alcohol drains and interferes with the body's absorption of vitamins and minerals. Simply put: alcohol is a toxic substance. Drinking too much may result in dehydration, lack of sleep and other side effects to throw your body out of balance.
Here are my five favorite tips to stay in balance while enjoying a beverage this summer.
1. Eat especially well on a day you know you'll be drinking.
I'm talking lean protein and green veggies. Try and fill up on green juices (with less than 10 grams of sugar per juice) and purified water with minerals. I recommend one serving of electrolytes the day of your event, one in a large glass of water after your event, one before bed and one when you wake up the next day. Add the juice of half a lemon if you want to rev up your digestive system, too.
2. Avoid other triggers if you know you want to drink.
On the day of your event — and also on the day after — stay away from foods that might zap your energy like dessert and other sugary foods. Your sugar intake for that day is in your alcohol, so either enjoy a dessert or a drink ... but not both. Also be aware of foods that are hard to digest and can cause bloating like dairy, gluten, beans and starchy vegetables.
3. Pace yourself to one drink per hour.
A "standard drink" is about two ounces of hard liquor, or five ounces of wine, which is also the rate at which your liver can keep up.
4. Choose a top shelf liquor.
I recommend vodka or tequila over dark liquors like brandy or whiskey, but whatever you choose, stick with one type of alcohol. Light liquors have fewer "congeners," a minor toxic chemical element of alcohol that gives it it's distinctive characteristics and may contribute to hangovers.
My favorite trick? Order two ounces of alcohol with a lot of fresh-squeezed limes/lime juice and a side of sparkling mineral water or seltzer, no ice. Every few sips, fill your glass with water. This method serves two purposes: (1) you drink less alcohol, which equals fewer calories and (2) you hydrate while you drink, filling up on water instead of wine. If you decide to drink wine, choose white. Keep that glass of sparkling mineral water nearby.
If you're drinking beer, choose a gluten-free version.
Stay away from champagne and sparkling wine. These can go straight to your head. Studies have shown that the effects of bubbles in alcohol increases the delivery of alcohol through your system and can cause you to become intoxicated faster. They can also lead to bloating.
And the best part? These tried and tested tips apply to any social situation year round!