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Friday, November 21, 2014

Healthy Holiday with Alcohol!

Get ready to explore the inside secrets to how to maintain (or reclaim) a healthy mind and body during the holidays. Previously we have talked about how to avoid overindulging at holiday parties by focusing on the hours before the party. We must be willing to ignore the voices in our heads telling us to “save up calories.” or “It’s the holidays, you deserve it!”  Now, let’s address another set of voices that we have around alcohol. Yes, I am going to talk about your wine…but remember it’s my wine too!

I’ve been there. I have had those crazy voices tell me:
  • Don’t eat, just drink.
  • Just drink vodka, it’s clear and less calories.
  • I will just “drink” my dinner.
  • I won’t feel bloated if I just drink and don’t eat food.
  • I need alcohol to relax. I deserve it after the week I’ve had!
  • I need alcohol to get through the emotional rollercoaster of the holidays.

Identify the voice that most closely represents how you feel during the holidays, or perhaps it is one that is not mentioned. Now choose whether or not you view these thoughts and subsequent actions as something you want to change.

Personally, I made a commitment to not struggle through one more holiday season drinking away my sorrows. At 23 my mom died of cancer and for five years I drank to get through the holidays. It was too much to bear that she wasn’t around. My belief was the holiday season would never be the same joyous time I had remembered as a kid and each year I relentlessly punished my body and drowned my sorrows in alcohol. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about, although the tough memories may be different from mine.  People with these voices spend holiday parties drinking so we can relax and act happy to hide how we are really feeling. For people experiencing sadness and loss during the holidays, there is healing, but it’s not at the bottom of a bottle! You can do it!

Okay, enough of the serious talk! Let’s first get something straight, I enjoy me some red wine and those of you who know me can attest to this! During the holidays, however, it seems that the once a week party/event can easily turn into a four day a week drinking binge if we are not careful. This can absolutely affect !our health and our waistline, not to mention our moods. So, how do we enjoy “spirits” without taking out the fun or being anti-social?

Here are five tips to enjoy your “spirits” while still being “spirited”:

1.     Sip, don’t chug. You can make a glass of wine last five minutes or all night. It’s how you approach the drink. A trick that works for me is to order the most expensive glass of wine on the menu. Although your husband may give you the look of death, the reasoning is that I drink a $6.00 dollar glass of wine much different (and faster) than a $25.00 glass of wine! This is a reality check behind the reason you are drinking. Are you drinking to relax, stuff your feelings or be someone different or do you really enjoy drinking the wine? Is it about quantity or quality?

2.     Fake it. Sometimes I just want to hold a really pretty glass with a cute thin straw. There doesn’t even need to be alcohol in the glass, although it will appear to others that there is! If you are a social drinker and sometimes feel pressure to drink at EVERY event because everyone else is, try having ice, spritzer water, a splash of cranberry juice, a squeezed lime and a straw! This is not only delicious, but it looks like a legit cocktail!  I love to have these ingredients on hand at home during the holidays if I feel like enjoying a fun drink to kick back and relax with.

3.     BYOB. If you are attending a party where you bring your own drinks, ONLY bring the amount you want to drink! Make this decision while you are rational and not caught up in the moment of the party. Leave no room for a conversation with yourself about overindulging. If you don’t have it, you don’t drink it.

4.     Drink Water. You have probably heard this before, but have you done it?
Drink water between every alcoholic drink. It works. Drinking alcohol is EXTREMELY dehydrating and is very toxic, so your body will appreciate an opportunity to detoxify and rehydrate. Sip the water, don’t chug.

5.     Create a Safe Environment. Because of my tendencies to get sad during the holidays, I choose to keep my home safe and free of wine because it is a trigger for me. Is alcohol in your home a trigger for you? What specifically? Do you find yourself using “it’s the holidays” as an excuse to indulge throughout the week either by yourself or with your partner? Don’t rely on willpower when it comes to alcohol in your home! Set yourself up to win!

Remember, you first have to evaluate your behavior and reasons for indulging in alcohol and determine if you want something different this holiday season.  It is empowering for me to have other outlets to deal with my sadness, stress, frustrations, etc. without alcohol.  A glass of wine no longer controls whether I stuff or unload my emotions. You can have this same freedom too! Cheers to your health and empowerment!

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