If you’re a wine-lover, you’re going to want to read this. As a social drinker who appreciates a good glass – or two – of wine, but couldn’t shake the guilt I felt when drinking said glass – or two – of wine, I started to dig into how I could enjoy alcohol within the confines of my healthy lifestyle. The good news is that I can! I created this healthy drinking guide for anyone who thinks that being healthy means teetotaling or that enjoying a glass of wine is the sugar equivalent to eating an entire batch of cookies. Neither is true!
First, it’s important to explore your relationship with alcohol. Is it something you use as a crutch an escape or has it infiltrated your home and social life to the extent that you rarely go without it? If so, then you may need to assess how you can create more boundaries for yourself. Many people are ditching alcohol completely and that’s always an option too, although for me, I knew that wasn’t something I felt called to do nor was it realistic. While my relationship with alcohol wasn’t always healthy, today it is very much so, thus figuring out how to enjoy it occassionally as an addition to a healthy diet is why I created this healthy drinking guide.
So what are the healthiest choices for enjoying alcohol in moderation?
What to Drink:
One // Mezcal. Derived from the agave plant, the smoky-tasting spirit is likely the among the cleanest. By law, mezcal is required to contain 100 percent agave – compared to tequila which is 49 percent – so there are no fillers or other artificial ingredients.
Two // Tequila. Like mezcal, tequila is also derived from agave and is said to boost metabolism and lower blood sugar. How? The naturally-occurring sugars aren’t digestible and thus act like fiber in the body.
Three // Vodka. Clear spirits like vodka contain fewer congeners, chemical substances produced during the fermentation process and also fewer sugars making vodka a lower-calorie option. Because each batch of vodka is distilled numerous times during the production process, vodka is also one of the purest options.
Four // Red Wine. Contrary to popular belief, wine doesn’t contain as much sugar as most people think. The fructose (sugar) from the grapes is fermented into alcohol leaving wine relatively low in sugar with just over 1 gram of sugar per 5 oz. serving. Red wine is lower in sugar than white and the better choice. Biodynamic wine is higher in health-benefitting antioxidants.
Five // Beer. While beer woudn’t normally make a healthy drinking guide, for those concerned with sugar content, beer contains maltose which is easily metabolized. If you’re looking for slightly fewer calories, choose a light option which is slightly more watered down.
Six // Champagne. By the numbers, champagne is a lower-calorie option than wine and is although one study showed that the compounds from the red grapes used for champagne production have memory-boosting benefits similar to red wine, champagne contains significantly more sugar.
What to Look For:
One // Local. Just like you support your local farmer, it’s a good idea to support your local distiller or brewer or grower.
Two // Small Batch. Used to describe a limited procution run, the outcome is usually more creative and unique spirits.
Three // Craft. Whereas small batch can be made by large distillaries, craft is typically made by independent distillierues and breweries.
Four // Organic. Like fruit and vegetables, there are strict standards when labeling alcohol organic and that means it’s made from grains and grapes free of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
How to Mix Wisely:
One // Drink it Neat. Mixders tend to have tons of sugar so skip the soda, fruit juices and tonic and drink it neat or on the rocks.
Two // Choose Seltzer. If you like a little fizz, plain seltzer is a good option.
Three // Garnish. Garnish with fresh fruit and herbs. Ask the bartender for fresh citrus like grapefruit, lemons and limes and even fresh mint.
Remember, all alcohol is empty calories so although you may be reaping some health benefits, there are very few, if any, nutrients in alcohol the way there is in food. That said watch your consumption and serving sizes and always enjoy alcohol responsibly, mindfully and in moderation.