Let’s face it: eating healthy can be a challenge when you find yourself staring into a giant pot of freshly made brownies or enjoying dinner with friends drinking way too much wine.
Healthy eating shouldn’t derail your social life or leave you feeling deprived. But when you’re working out to eat healthier, there are four guilty pleasures you need to create a game plan around or they can derail your success.
Alcohol, caffeine, sodas, and fancy sweets are what I call the âfour culpritsâ because I find them to induce culpable pleasure in many. So how can you enjoy it without throwing your healthy food out the window every Friday afternoon hoping to get everything back on track by Monday morning?
Today, let’s start by looking at alcohol consumption and recommendations from a nutritional perspective, rather than physiological health effects.
I still remember a client, let’s call her Sue, who drank a few glasses of wine every night while watching her favorite TV shows. It was the perfect end to a stressful day. When she came to me for help getting out of the prediabetic beach, she had a rule: I couldn’t touch her evening wine drink. Well, she’s no longer prediabetic, and best of all, she still enjoys her wine.
It’s important to set realistic expectations around the four culprit foods. It rarely works to have an all-or-nothing approach when working to gain control over them. What I did with Sue is what I saw work for a lot. First, replace the guilty pleasure with a healthier version of itself, and second, work to create healthier portions. Both of these approaches will help turn those guilty pleasures into what I call guilt-free indulgences.
Moderate drinking is considered acceptable for most, but some people should avoid drinking completely due to their genetics. Drinking at this level can further increase the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and liver disease.
The first known recommendation is to drink moderately, which works out to one standard drink per day for most women and two for men. A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol), 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of spirits or liqueurs (40% alcohol) .
The best alcohols to enjoy regularly are those that are not loaded with sugar. Something like vodka soda, which removes a lot of sugar while still having flavor. Enjoy it with lime or a dash of cranberry juice. Another popular low-sugar alcoholic drink is a rum, fresh mint and lime mojito. You won’t miss the sweet syrup in these types of drinks. If you like syrup-like margarita drinks, try a low-sugar Paloma, which is grapefruit and lime juice mixed with tequila. Many of my customers enjoy this easy drink with a grapefruit flavored soda water mixer or Izzy No Sugar Added Soft Drink.
Alcohol can be consumed in moderation by most people and your daily energy level, better night’s sleep, and your waistline will thank you. Remember to set realistic expectations while replacing your current drink of choice with a healthier drink (maybe it’s already healthy, so go for it!) Finally, kick it out with a glass of water. .
Fran Sutherlin is a Local Registered Dietitian, specializing in the use of digestive wellness to prevent or manage chronic disease. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition, is a personal health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition. She can be reached at 444-2122 or at [email protected]