How to: Healthy alcoholic drinks
How to curb your drinking beyond Dry January
Words— Kate Dingwall
As Dry January comes to a close, your body probably feels like a temple. You haven’t drunk! You went to the gym! You’ve shed a few pounds! Your skin has this glorious, luminescent quality to it! Your wallet feels full thanks to all the money you’ve saved skipping those of $16 Old Fashioneds!
With February 1 a short reach away, it may feel like time to raise a glass to Dry January’s closure. But consider that you started Dry January to relieve your body of your usual woes - how are you going to keep that momentum going?
Perhaps you’re the person who has been gleefully sipping through the month while others abstain. Cheers to you, but maybe your body is feeling a bit wary of all your indulgences.
We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to completely quit drinking to feel great. But maybe it’s time to drink a little healthier. Full disclosure: drinking alcohol isn’t healthy, but with these tips at least you can make it a little less damaging.
Figure out your triggers
If you’re looking to set healthier habits, first figure out what is triggering your unhealthy ones. Is it the stress of a week of work that beckons for a Martini? Maybe a kickboxing class could help ease the burden instead. Do you have that one friend that drags you out every weekend? Pencil them in for a bike ride or a brunch to limit the boozing. Find your trigger, figure out why it triggers you, and change your routine.
It is easy to fall into a wild night out if you go with the flow of the evening. But does anything good really happen after midnight? So, go into a night of drinking with your goals in mind. Say you’ll stay for two glasses of wine and get home in time to make the ten o’clock news. Set expectations, and go into the night with intentions.
Say you want to roll back on drinking - set physical goals to match. Getting off your butt and finding ways to distract yourself outside drinking is a key to kicking alcohol. Sign yourself up for that marathon in September, or perhaps sign in to that 8 am pilates class on Sunday morning.
While your hangover will beg to differ, alcohol is the toughest on your skin. The sugars in alcohols can crystallize your skin cells, causing breakouts in your face (that’s where that pimple came from) and dull your complexion.
The dehydration can suck the moisture out of your face, leaving your wrinkles exaggerated and your skin drier and flakier.
Combat this by chasing your drink with an XL glass of water. Next, skip the margaritas. That oh-so-perfect salt rim will soak up even more of the water in your body, leaving skin super puffy.
If rosacea is a recurring issue, skip the red wine. The histamines in the wine will cause more redness and a look of flushness. If you don’t struggle with rosacea, red wine is your best choice. Red wines contain resveratrol, which will help purify your skin and act as an antioxidant. Doesn’t mean it’s still good for you - moderation, folks!
Overall, if you have three or more drinks, you’ll start seeing the effects within 24 hours. After this, nursing your skin back to health isn’t as easy - it takes at least three days to give your liver time to get rid of the alcohol and sugars that cause your skin to look less-than-stellar.
If none of your wine geek friends have waxed poetic about the benefits of natural wines, listen up. Just like how you’re trying to avoid processed meat because the gunk they’re fed, mass-market wine is made using a rainbow of chemicals, dyes, and sulphites. It’s those sulphites in wine set off irritations in the body, which can often turn into a full-on allergic reaction. Look for labels like biological, organic, natural, or low-intervention - the latter is made using organic farming practices that skip chemical fillers and added sugars.
We probably don’t have to twist your arm on this one, but eat a full meal before a night of drinking. The food will soak up the alcohol and push the alcohol through your gastrointestinal system, rather than be absorbed and metabolized by your body.
Dark spirits - aged rums, aged tequilas, whiskeys of all spectrums - contain congeners (found in tannins and the wood ageing) which can greaten the severity of a hangover by increasing thirst and nausea and slowing the metabolization of alcohol.
Mix with the best
Consider that over ¾ of your drink is the mixer you add to a drink. While choosing a particular spirit is an excellent start for a healthier drink, consider what the rest of your drink is made of (please don’t order a Vodka Red Bull). Tonic water sounds like a healthy alternative to cokes, but most generic tonics have just as many sugars.
However, this will vary from brand to brand though - those cans you’ll find on most convenience stores and in bar fridges are riddled with sugars and additives. Brands like Fever-Tree use naturally sourced ingredients and skip the added sugars.
Another alternative - if you’re drinking at home and craving sweetness, look for honey or agave for your sugar fix.
Cut yourself some slack
You may have the misconception that if you go off the rails and overindulge one night, you’re headed towards a downward spiral. But cut yourself some slack. So you had a couple of unhealthy days - the stress of trying to catch up and beating yourself up will only make your body feel worse. Say you’re sorry to yourself, pat yourself on the back, and shrug it off.