Most of you probably enjoy having a cocktail here and there. Actually, it might be more often than it should be! I am very cognizant of the role alcohol plays in my body, mind and skin. Honestly, I feel terrible after a night out of drinking. I finally had to come to grips with the fact that even though I told myself it was just one night; the repercussions lasted way past that. I would wake up hung-over and undoubtedly crave nasty food (which I would eat). I couldn’t possibly imagine darkening the gym doorway. I had no energy and my head hurt too badly!
Once I started competing in fitness competitions, I quit partying for many years, and only recently began to drink socially again. This time around, I make sure to watch my frequency, amount and type of drinks. I drink on average two times per month and for the most part, don’t get rip roaring hammered. Now, I’m not saying you need be that conservative, but I think it’s important to realize the role it plays on your health.
No amount of fire and ice facials can undo a constant poison going into your body.
Having worked for many years as a bartender, I wanted to comprise a list of some does and don’ts when it comes to cocktailing. I’m certainly an expert at both making these drinks and consuming them.
- Do not mix alcohol with regular soda or fruit juices. Now, I’m not a fan of diet sodas either, because of the aspartame, but I do drink one from time to time. Regular sodas are loaded with sugar and calories that will pack on the poundage and cause dehydration, leaving you with a nasty hangover. The same is true for fruit juices. I’m not sure why people are so convinced that juice is good for you. One can of regular Coke (7.5 oz.) has 25 sugars and 90 empty calories. One cup of cranberry juice (8 oz.) has 30 sugars and 137 calories. If you want some vitamins and fruit in your diet, eat it. Don’t drink massive amounts of sugar and calories.
- Drink water while you drink. I always ask for a glass of water with my cocktails. Staying hydrated is your best bet for a quick recovery. The hangover secret is this: drink lots of water and take aspirin before you go to bed. Seriously, it works like a miracle. Your hangover is from dehydration. The water will hydrate you and the aspirin will thin your blood. Hangover cured.
- Don’t ask for a Skinny Margarita, because unless you order it the way I tell you to, there isn’t anything skinny about it. I’m not sure who came up with this or if it was right at some point and then bartenders started messing it up, but most bartenders will make your “skinny” margarita with orange juice instead of sour mix (not better) or soda water and agave/simple syrup, also not better. If you want a margarita-esk drink, ask for tequila, triple sec, soda water and fresh limes squeezed. And be nice. You are asking for something specific. If you have an attitude, your bartender will throw whatever she wants in there and you will be none the wiser.
- Take your time. The biggest mistake I used to make while drinking was simply consuming my cocktails to quickly. You need to give your blood alcohol content time to rise. Once you do this, you will drink far fewer cocktails, I can assure you. Thereby saving yourself the calories, the nasty hangover and extra money to spend on that new pair of yoga pants.
- Don’t think that tonic water and soda water are the same. Because they definitely are not. Soda water is carbonated water. It’s like ordering a Perrier or Pellegrino, except it’s probably going to come from the gun behind the bar and be tap water with carbonation. Regardless, it’s good for you. I try to stick with vodka/soda or tequila/soda. If I really feel like I need something more flavorful, I will ask for a splash of pineapple juice. While tonic water is carbonated water, it’s also made with quinine and plenty of sugar. You won’t be doing yourself any favors by choosing tonic water, except maybe avoiding the food coloring that’s in other sodas.
- Stick with straight shots. Yea the foo-foo shots like scooby snacks and cactus coolers taste great, but there’s a reason for that. Tasty shots are made with liqueurs, juice, energy drinks, sodas, and sometimes milk, which essentially means they are high in taste and high in calories. Similarly, stay away from Jager and Fireball. There’s a reason they are thick like syrup. Man up, take a shot of tequila, and call it good.
- In terms of beer, obviously order a light beer. That’s a no brainer. But you know what light beer is? Light on flavor. I just can’t get into a beer that tastes like water with a sprinkle of beer. But if that’s your thing, knock yourself out. Nutritionally, beer is higher in calories and carbohydrates than liquor and wine and lower in alcohol content. Sounds like a lose lose to me.
- Do not order a blended drink. EVER. Erase it from your memory, unless you’re on vacation and it’s a pina colada with a double shot a rum. This is like drinking a dessert. And if you’re gonna do that, wouldn’t you rather just have a piece of cheesecake?
- Choose wine because you like it, not because it’s the “healthy” choice. Wine it seems, particular red wine, has forever been touted as the “healthy” choice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone who is four glasses in say, “but it’s good for my heart!” I don’t want to destroy anyone’s life here, but straight from the American Heart Association website: “The AHA does recommend that to reduce your risk you should talk to your doctor about lowering your cholesterol and lowering high blood pressure, controlling your weight, getting enough physical activity and following a healthy diet. There is no scientific proof that drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage can replace these conventional measures. “So there’s nothing wrong with choosing a couple of glasses of wine as your choice of alcohol, just don’t do it for the wrong reasons.
These are some very good general rules to drink by. I also tend to not eat a big meal just before a night out on the town, because if I do, I will absolutely end up drinking more. But that’s just me; I have a slow metabolism and digest food very slowly. I’ve found putting alcohol on top of steak and potatoes, isn’t the best option for me. It’s important to pay attention to your body and remember to make every effort to keep it in moderation. Check out this great website I found for calorie and alcohol content on all your favorite libations.
Photo credit: Kirti Poddar