Festive Beverages

By Jason Fung, MD

While we should be all excited about the holiday season and all the parties, we often find ourselves feeling pretty stressed out about all the feasting.  There’s no need to be!  There are plenty of tricks you can do to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.

In last week’s blog, we talked about some feasting strategies for when you’re at holiday parties.  Back in October during Canadian Thanksgiving we addressed how you should consume your holiday feast!  But one topic we have yet to discuss is all the festive beverages consumed during this time.

A lot of people are almost embarrassed to talk about this.  Patients will see me in clinic but then send me a private email asking saying they didn’t want to ask in front of their peers.  Those who do ask in their sessions seem nervous.  There is no need to be!

One of the questions I am asked the most is whether I consume any sort of alcoholic beverage.  The answer is yes.  I’ve never been a big drinker and always volunteered to be the designated driver for friends during my university days.  But I learned to really appreciate dry, red wines while my husband was living close to Napa Valley, California.

If we’re celebrating moving into our first home, I’ll have a glass or two of dry, red wine.  If we’re having a lovely dinner in Barcelona, I’ll have a glass of local red wine.  I won’t have a glass of wine because it’s Tuesday.  Sometimes I’ll go weeks or even months without having a drink.

January is a very slow social month.  People are recovering from all the chaos from the holiday season, and there is very little socialization.  It creates a great balance.   We can feast (sensibly) in December and then fast in January.  This is why I don’t feel bad about having a few, or several, glasses of a good quality, dry wine over the holiday season.

In this week’s blog post, we’ll talk about some holiday beverage strategies to get you through the holiday season!

Stick to dry wines and bubbly

There are so many wonderful wines and champagne out there that contain 4 grams of sugar per litre or even less!  Most of the wines we purchase from the store are 2 grams of sugar per litre.  There are so many wonderful options!

The sale of alcohol across Canada is regulated by each of the provincial governments.  In Ontario, most of it is sold at the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) stores.  Our law requires that the product tags for all wines must also show the sugar content.  How cool is this?  It really makes shopping for dry wines quite easy.

Don’t live in Ontario or you’re eating out at a restaurant?  Not a problem!  Their website and app makes it easy to look up wines to find out their sugar content.  I have their app downloaded to my phone so I can check the dryness of my wine at restaurants or while I’m travelling. It’s very handy!

There are also services like Dry Farm Wines in the United States that will help you find out what wines contain the least amount of sugar and other unwanted additives.

Spirits are okay to consume but watch out for mixers

It is perfectly okay to enjoy some vodka, whiskey, scotch, gin, brandy and tequila, but just be careful what you use to mix them with.  Sodas and tonic water are both very high in sugar or artificial sweeteners.  Same with juices, even if the bottle says no added sugar.  The fruit itself is very high in sugar as it is.

It’s best to mix any spirits with water.  Flat water, carbonated water and seltzer water all make great mixers for your drinks.

Avoid beer as much as possible

Beer is just the worst for raising blood sugar and insulin levels.  If you’re going to have a beer, then go for a lower carb option.  There are more and more being released each year since the ketogenic diet (a very low carb diet) has gained such great popularity.
Check out this list for some low carb options if you’re planning on drinking any beers this holiday season.

Alternate all alcoholic beverages with a glass of water

Alcohol can really dehydrate you, which often makes you feel terrible and increases your appetite.  Drinking water between alcoholic drinks can really help rehydrate you and keep your appetite suppressed.  It will also reduce the total amount of alcohol you consume at each meal.

Add ice to your glass

Similarly, to consuming water between drinks to stay hydrated, you can also add more ice to your beverages.  I even add ice to my wine.  Not too much because I don’t want to drink red wine (my go to) cold or water it down too much, but a couple of small ice cubes can really make a difference.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Megan Ramos, IDM Program Director

By The Fasting Method

For many health reasons, losing weight is important. It can improve your blood sugars, blood pressure and metabolic health, lowering your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. But it’s not easy. That’s where we can help.

Jason Fung, MD

By Jason Fung, MD

Jason Fung, M.D., is a Toronto-based nephrologist (kidney specialist) and a world leading expert in intermittent fasting and low-carb diets.

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