Does alcohol play a part in ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly?
There will likely be more opportunities to enjoy a second glass of wine at a meal, party, or as a stress-response, in the next month, and sometimes this can have a negative impact on our health.
In my holistic health textbooks, women are advised to drink less than men because, in general, our bodies don’t process alcohol as efficiently. Women start to have alcohol-related problems because they tend to absorb more alcohol and it takes longer to be broken down and removed from our body. This is due most generally to the fact that alcohol disperses in body water, and pound for pound, women have less water in their bodies than men do.
What is Behind this Gender Difference?
So, when drinking equal amounts of alcohol, women will have higher alcohol levels in their blood than men, and the immediate effects happen more quickly and last longer. As a result, a woman’s brain and other organs tend to be exposed to more of the potentially harmful by-products which result as our bodies metabolize those celebratory calories.
Three Holistic Health Tips
Before you call me a kill-joy, here are three things one can do and still enjoy the holidays. Can we all enjoy ourselves without doing harm? I believe we can!
- Lower alcohol drinks can be a great way of enjoying a couple of drinks at home or pacing yourself on a night out. It can help us to avoid the familiar short-term effects of drinking too much. For example, if you enjoy a couple of glasses of wine after work, switch to a 5.5% wine instead. Full-strength wine is 12-14% alcohol. By making a brand switch, we can more than halve the number of units we drink. By doing this, we make a huge difference over a week and reduce our risk of longer-term harm.
- There’s an app for that! Drinkaware helps us track our alcohol consumption over time, calculating units and calories consumed. Awareness of what we consistently consume is a smart way to learn where and when we can make the most effective positive difference.
- Visualize the Behavior You Desire. Say you do go to a party: How do you stop yourself from overindulging? “Spend a few minutes before the event visualizing yourself acting in the way you would prefer to behave,” says John McGrail, Ph.D. He is the author of The Synthesis Effect: Your Direct Path to Personal Power and Transformation. Step One: Imagine yourself not going beyond your appropriate alcohol limit. Step Two: Image yourself walking out of the event feeling great, with a big smile on your face. When we picture the desired behavior, we increase our odds of behaving mindfully.