Can Alcohol Have a Place in a Healthy Lifestyle?

We recently did a poll on our Instagram account to see what topics you’re struggling with the most as it relates to sugar. One of the most common questions was around tips for alcohol - how to socialize without it and reduce its effects if you do decide to drink.

Coming out of the summer where there are a lot more social gatherings, holidays and reasons for enjoying a cocktail or a glass of wine (let’s be honest, any hot day is worth celebrating!). I don’t know about you, but by the end of the summer it can feel like some of those habits are a bit hard to break up with. If you travel or entertain for work, it can be even more difficult to regulate your alcohol consumption. And while it’s fun to loosen up, overtime alcohol can start to mess with your productivity, digestion, energy and focus, and make it really difficult to eat healthy and work out.

So, what to do then if you want to keep up with your healthy lifestyle but also want to be able to go out without stressing? We’re sharing some of our tips below.

Alcohol Replacements

If you’re trying to limit the alcohol you consume, but get a craving every so often, a great replacement is kombucha. Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented drink that tastes a little bit like a flavoured soda that happens to be pretty good for your gut health. The reason it helps to nip an alcohol craving in the bud is that it still tastes sweet (though there’s less sugar), and usually alcohol cravings stem from a craving for sugar or low blood sugar. Because it’s fermented, it also has a tiny bit of alcohol in it (usually less than 0.5%). Plus, the fizziness makes it feel a bit like a cocktail.

If your go-to drink is a vodka soda or a gin and soda, and you’re going out for just one or two drinks to be social, why not try just skipping the alcohol and having a soda with lime or even ask for a side orange slice? Think about it, the taste is virtually the same, you’ll still have a drink in your hand, and you likely wouldn’t feel the effect of one or two drinks anyways, so what’s the point really? Plus, you’ll save yourself about $8/drink. 

Can alcohol have a place in a healthy lifestyle?
No one would know if there's alcohol in here (Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash).

Avoiding the Peer Pressure

If you struggle with succumbing to social pressure to drink, one of the best things you can do is to own it. If people ask, rather than making it sound like a negative thing you are struggling to get through, say “No thanks, I’m good! I’m actually avoiding alcohol right now and I feel great.” People will be less likely to push back if you’re confident about it. There’s a great podcast on this topic by James Swanwick, a former SportsCentre host who helps people quit alcohol (don’t be alarmed by the title - it makes it sound scarier than it is!).

After not drinking for 9 months while pregnant, I can safely say it feels way harder than it actually is. The hardest part when you’re out is when people order their first drink. That’s when you want to partake. As soon as you’ve ordered a club soda or regular water, you hardly notice it.

How to Drink Without Overdoing It

Now, let’s say you do plan on drinking, what’s the best way to go about it? A few studies have found that hangovers are worse in drinks that are higher in congeners, which are a byproduct of alcohol fermentation. Colourless drinks like vodka, gin and white rum have lower levels, with vodka being the lowest, whereas whiskey, cognac, tequila and especially bourbon are the highest.

The lighter coloured alcohols also tend to be more filtered, whereas beer and wine are generally less filtered, which can be problematic for some people as they may be higher in some toxins that lead to hangovers.

If you like to enjoy a glass of wine here and there, choose wines with a lower sugar content. This is usually listed on the label at the LCBO or liquor store as __g/L.

Source: lcbo.com


You can also Google the wine and you’ll usually find the sugar content. I’d aim for under 4g/L like the one above.

How to Reduce Your Hangover

To give your liver some support to process the alcohol and reduce your hangover, you can also try the following:

  • Take a B complex and vitamin C before going out. Alcohol is a diuretic and you lose these nutrients when drinking and they play a major role in immunity, nervous system function and liver protection.
  • Have a glass of water in between each drink to avoid dehydration, which is where most symptoms of a hangover come from.
  • When you get home, take a magnesium supplement to support your nervous system and a better sleep. Low magnesium and other electrolytes is where the hangover jitteriness often comes from.
  • The next day, start your day with a big glass of lemon water.
  • Then, have a big green smoothie or a salad with some protein and healthy fats to balance your blood sugar, which is how you can reduce cravings. It’s tempting to pick up some junk food but no one ever feels better after McDonald’s. The anti-inflammatory properties of veggies actually helps to reduce the hangover.
  • If you’re feeling bloated or have an upset stomach, fresh ginger, peppermint tea, and apple cider vinegar can help.

If you’d like to learn more about how to cut back on sugar for good, be sure to sign up for our 10 Day Sugar-Free Program that starts September 23rd! It was designed to help you overcome your cravings (to sugar, especially), feel energized and more clear-headed, sleep better and reduce bloating.

Why Join?

  • You want a quick & easy reset to boost your energy and have you feeling great
  • You struggle with bloating and suspect your digestion isn't what it should be
  • You know sugar is causing weight gain and you want to lose the extra pounds
  • You would like a bit more glow to your skin
  • Your sugar and carb cravings are out of control and you'd like to cut back on the sweets
  • You simply want some new, delicious, healthy sugar-free recipes organized into a meal plan

What's Included for Just $29:

  1. A 10 day meal plan for 2 (with a vegan version) and a grocery list organized by section of the grocery store (new recipes if you've participated before)
  2. Daily goals to complete that will help you reduce your sugar inake in favour of real, nutritious and delicious foods
  3. Access to an online portal for you to track all of the goals you've completed
  4. A comprehensive list of food and drinks to follow and the ones to avoid while on the program
  5. Bonus recipes for when a craving hits

Click here to join now.

The HEAL Sugar-Free Program

Additional Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20028364

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20712591

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