From a Christmas toast to ringing in the New Year, alcohol often goes hand in hand with holiday celebrations, but it doesn’t have to. This holiday season be sure to treat yourself to the most priceless gift of all - your health!
Alcohol, when consumed regularly, can lead to a multitude of health problems. The extra calories consumed when drinking alcoholic beverages can have a direct effect on your health by leading to unwanted weight gain. Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, and even cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), strong evidence exists linking the consumption of alcohol with an increased risk of developing cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast (in women), and colorectum (in men).
This holiday season, try toasting to your health with a mocktail. Mocktails are non-alcoholic cocktails that usually consist of an array of fruit juices. They are festive, fun, and full of flavor. Many popular alcoholic drinks can be made into mocktail versions such as bloody Mary’s and daiquiris. One of the most popular mocktails enjoyed by people of all ages is a Shirley Temple, which is comprised of lemon-lime soda and ginger ale with a splash of grenadine.
If sweet drinks aren’t for you, you could always opt for other non-alcoholic beverage options. Non-alcoholic beer and wine, sparkling ciders, and nonalcoholic champagne are a few other alternatives. If you choose to drink alcohol, be sure to drink responsibly and in moderation. Women should limit their alcoholic beverage intake to one drink daily and men should limit their intake to two drinks daily. So what does “one drink” consist of? “One drink” is considered to be 12 ounces of regular beer, 1.5 ounces (or “a shot”) of 80-proof liquor, or 5 ounces of wine. To ensure that your alcohol intake is kept to a minimum, incorporate two glasses of water or another calorie-free beverage for each alcoholic drink consumed.
By watching your alcohol consumption, you will not only keep the extra pounds off but you will be decreasing your risk for cancer, as well. This holiday season, enjoy your time with family and friends and raise your mocktails to cheers to your health!
Kristin Waldron, RD, is a registered dietitian at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.