Your Health!

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! Kristin Waldron, RD, a registered dietitian at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey shares some tips.

Q: What does one need to keep in mind when it comes to alcohol?

A:  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, 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).

Q:  What are some alternatives to alcohol?

A:  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 Marys 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 non-alcoholic champagne are a few other alternatives. 

Q:  What about having only ‘one’ drink?

A:  Keep in mind what one drink consists 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.  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.  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 not only will keep the extra pounds off but also will be decreasing your risk for cancer.