Can you drink alcohol and still live a healthy lifestyle?
In short: Absolutely. 100%. Yes. But there's more to it.
When my wellness journey truly began, there was a month or so where I felt slightly guilty every time I had a cocktail or more than one glass of wine. It was as if I was going against my “healthy religion” and someone was going to come and slap my wrist for doing wrong.
This mindset was only hurting me.
In my opinion, it can be hard for many people chasing after a healthy lifestyle to confront the topic of alcohol among other health nuts because they don’t want to admit that they drink it, enjoy it or find that some occasions are definitely better with it. So, allow me to be completely honest and admit that I am a big-time lover of citrus-flavored vodka waters, tequila sodas, red wine and hot toddies; and I don’t believe that drinking alcohol makes me less mentally or physically healthy. But, there are definitely a few things that I like to consider, and I want to share these with you so that you too can lead a healthy lifestyle without the guilt that comes with having a drink or two, and the hangover that comes with three or four.
How you view alcohol is really important.
If you look to alcohol to calm you down, ease your nerves, fill a void or bring you happiness, then maybe you’d like to consider another outlet. Alcohol will never solve problems in the long-run, and if it’s getting in the way of you pursuing happiness and mental health in a healthy way, then maybe some shifts need to be made in your life.
Let’s be honest: alcohol can make social events, family gatherings and cozy nights in that much more wonderful. But, alcohol isn’t what makes things wonderful. Having a healthy view of alcohol and reserving it for celebratory, special or chosen occasions might be the best place to start if you’re trying to move in a more positive direction.
Are you sensitive to gluten, or do you have any other allergies?
If you are allergic to gluten or have an intolerance to another ingredient in some alcohols (like corn), then do your body a favor and cater to its needs—even with alcohol.
When you’re at a restaurant, you can always ask for an ingredient to be eliminated or substituted from your cocktail. Taking care of your body and food sensitivities isn’t annoying, it’s important.
How does alcohol affect you?
After two drinks, do you start to pick fights with your significant other? Or, after a glass of red wine, do you feel flushed and somewhat anxious? Pay attention to how alcohol physically and mentally makes you feel, and cater to your body and health accordingly.
Limit your alcohol intake to 2-3 drinks per outing.
This is a big one, and yes, it’s hard to do, especially when you’re bouncing from bar to bar on a Friday night. When you consume more than this limit, though, you’re likely to make decisions that don’t serve you—like eating 2 cupcakes or saying “screw it” all together and moving onto tequila shots. We’ve all done it. Also, who likes waking up with a hangover? Literally no. one.
Make sure to have a glass of water after each drink, and start sipping on club soda or sparkling water at some point instead. Sparkling water with lemon and lime looks a lot like a vodka soda! Plus, do people really care what you’re drinking? #loveyaself
Avoid the sugary mixers.
If possible, avoid the sugary stuff. The simpler your cocktail is, the better it likely is for your body. Try sticking to wine or drinking vodka club sodas with lemon and lime. If you’re tempted by a restaurant’s cocktail list, opt for a drink without syrups and fruit juices. Most crafty bartenders like to use fresh herbs and house-made tonics to create cocktails—ask them what their healthier or simpler options are!
At the pre-party? Don’t reach for the Crystal Light to flavor your liquor and club soda of choice. Bring your own La Croix or Spindrift for your mixer! Also, BYOL: Bring Your Own Lemons (and Limes).
Order simply at the bar.
Here are the combinations that I opt for when I’m out:
- Gluten-free vodka (Tito’s usually, or Bombora if they have it) + club soda or water with lemon/lime
- Tequila (made from the agave cactus so most-always gluten-free) + club soda with lime (or splash of lime juice)
- Red wine
I don’t believe that alcohol will hinder your healthy lifestyle unless you allow it to. You can live a vibrant, healthy life while still enjoying the good stuff like red wine and handcrafted cocktails. But it’s all in moderation and celebration, right? Ultimately, the less s#!* that you put into your body, the better you’re going to feel the next day and all year round. So listen to your body and treat it with lots of love!
With the holiday season beginning, do you have any tips for staying healthy while attending holiday parties and gatherings?
Stock photo used can be attributed to Eaters Collective