Another Round?

December 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm , by

“Let’s grab a drink somewhere.” As a 20-something in New York City (yep, that’s me, right), I’ve heard or said those five words upwards of oh, about a trillion times. But I don’t feel too bad about it. Drinkers have fewer heart attacks and strokes and actually live longer than people who don’t drink at all.

People at bars love talking about this. Try mentioning it at happy hour or a holiday party, and it will make you the most popular person there. But then you’ll have to add that you only get those benefits if you drink in moderation. And you will wish you could just leave that part out because “in moderation” sounds way less fun, especially when you tell everyone what it means. For women, moderation means no more than one daily serving of 5 ounces of wine (not even close to a full glass), 12 ounces of beer or a one-and-a-half ounce shot of hard liquor. Talk about a major buzzkill for everyone’s favorite special, 2-for-1!

When I learned that this was the definition of moderation that all the studies cite, my reaction was similar to how Sarah Elizabeth Richards felt when she was interviewing experts for her piece on women and alcohol in our latest issue. She writes:

“‘That’s it?’ I ask, realizing that I regularly drink twice that amount. I quickly dismiss the government recommendations as overly conservative, in much the same way that I convince myself that a half cup of ice cream isn’t a ‘real’ serving.”

Right! Because, really, on what planet does anyone actually drink like that? I go for a drink after work once, maybe twice a week, and I am not ashamed to say that two drinks is the norm. On the weekends, three is probably my average, but there have definitely been times when I’ve lost count (which I am a little ashamed to say, while writing a blog…at work.) I know I’m not the only one with these habits because all of my friends are the same way. Birthdays, holidays, new jobs, new boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, new shoes, good day, bad day, I mean, you name it. We’ll “cheers” to it.

I don’t drink every day. It’s not like I have a beer at breakfast. And while I should probably cut back a little, limiting myself to one every time I drink just seems impossible.

Thankfully, there is a workaround. To be your absolute healthiest, you should stick to one drink a day. But as long as you don’t have more than three drinks in one day, or seven drinks in one week, you can still consider yourself a healthy, moderate drinker.

My new plan: enjoying two drinks at happy hour during the week is fine, as long as I don’t go to happy hour three times a week or go overboard on the weekends. I can’t say that even this will be easy, but at least now I have a workable goal. How will you spend your seven drinks?

Photo by Julie Bain

Spike Your Juice?

June 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm , by

Wow! This prohibition craze is really getting out of hand! First is was faux-speakeasies, and now you can make your own alcoholic beverages (no bathtub required). I’ll admit, when this product first crossed my desk, I thought it was a bit silly, and in truth, I probably will not be making more home brew any time soon. None of that changes the fact that it’s a pretty cool project (not for kids though—duh!) and really does explain (in the simplest of terms) just how alcohol is made.

Spike Your Juice is based on federweisser, a lightly alcoholic Eastern European drink that is only available during the grape harvest in the Fall. The directions are pretty straightforward—it’s literally 3 steps to cocktail time! Let’s make some. Shall we?

Read more

Holiday Survival Guide: 7 Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Season

December 9, 2009 at 4:29 pm , by

Christmas Dinner

I think diet experts are right when they say your holiday goal should be holding the line on your weight. Trying to actually drop pounds during the eating season takes superhuman self-control (to say nothing of how upset your aunt will be if you don’t have at least one bite of her chocolate pie). Here’s what I’m doing:

Breakfast every day. It keeps the metabolism running and your body out of calorie-saving starvation mode. Include protein to stave off hunger later.

Staying calorie-conscious. Pick the one high-calorie treat you really want at the party and steer clear of the rest. And make your non-holiday meals less caloric than usual.

Wine spritzers. Alcohol has calories: 85 for a 4 oz. glass of wine has 85; 65 for  1 oz. of vodka or scotch and almost 150 in a regular beer. For both health and weight, have no more than one alcoholic drink a day. Steer clear of sweet mixed drinks, especially eggnog. I rely on wine spritzers (wine and sparkling water)—you can have several and end up drinking no more than 4 oz. of alcohol.

Sugar-free gum. Chew some just before you leave for a party; the minty taste will make you feel less like eating when you get there.

Passing the hors d’oeuvres. If you’re holding a big tray of them, you can’t eat them—and it’s a good way to circulate at a party.

Bringing the hors d’oeuvres. The best way to make sure there’s at least one platter of raw veggies with low-fat yogurt dip is to bring it.

Keeping moving. Exercise not only burns calories (not as many as we wish, but some), but lowers your blood sugar.

Come New Year’s I’m going to try to lose 10 lbs. For help, see our weight loss planner.