The holiday season is a time of conviviality, and nothing is more celebratory than wine. As we raise our glasses to toast friendships and family, we remember that wine symbolizes health and happiness. But it is all too easy to fall out of the habits that define healthy drinking, and moderation hardly seems a festive theme. With that in mind, here are a few (science-based) tips for healthy drinking:
1. Stick with wine. Peak blood alcohol levels are lower after wine consumption as opposed to spirits, even when the amount of alcohol is the same. (The same applies for beer, but beer lacks the beneficial polyphenols of wine.) Mixed drinks also tend to contain more calories from sugar, while calories from alcohol avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.
2. Whenever possible have food with wine. Alcohol is absorbed much more rapidly on an empty stomach, even for wine. What’s more, wine with meals dampens down what is called “oxidative stress” from certain foods such as red meat. Wine with food actually makes the food more nutritious!
3. Pace yourself. You don’t get credit for moderation if your total weekly consumption occurs only on the weekend. It might be justifiable mathematically but a pattern of regular drinking (with meals) is as important as the total amount of drinking. Binge drinking cancels out the health benefits.
4. Have a glass of water between drinks. This will help with metabolism of the alcohol and help you to be mindful of total consumption.
5. Go with quality – wines you really want to enjoy and share. You will probably take more time with them and people will be more likely to appreciate the generosity, thereby slowing the pace of drinking. This doesn’t mean replacing sociability with snobbery; sharing good wine is one of the best ways to strengthen connections with those we care about, collaborate with, and celebrate for. As the late author Clifton Fadiman once said, “A bottle of good wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover.”
With this last post of 2017, I offer a toast to your health, your happiness, and your friendship. Cheers!
“What is better than to sit at the end of the day and drink wine with friends,
or substitutes for friends?”