By Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC
Once you turn 21 you feel like you have made it: you are now legal to drink!
Drinking can be fun. You feel like an adult going out to restaurants and bars ordering an alcoholic beverage.
You start going to happy hours after work with friends and coworkers to blow off steam and catch up. Sundays become “Sunday Funday” with boozy brunches pouring unlimited mimosa’s, bloody Mary’s and beelines.
Drinking can be done in almost every activity now: music events, sporting events, arcades, and even the movies.
The problem is all these opportunities to drink can add up and can wreak havoc on your health.
I am not saying to never drink alcohol because I know that is just unrealistic. Drinking can be fun a fun and social experience. The problem is that sometimes 1 drink can turn into 2, 3, and then you don’t realize how intoxicated you are until it is too late.
The key to drinking is to be smart. You don’t want to get drunk as it can put you in a dangerous situation.
Below are some tips for being smart while drinking:
- To avoid becoming too intoxicated try these tips: 1) have a glass of water in between drinks, 2) have good quality alcohol in limited quantities, 3) stick to 1-2 drinks, and 4) avoid mixing alcohol types (Remember beer before liquor never been sicker?).
- Options for good quality alcohol: higher end vodka, 100% agave tequila, or organic wine.
- If you opt for a beer be sure that it is a lower calorie one. If you like drafts on tap be sure to order a smaller size so you get less calories.
- Stay away from sugary mixers like, soda, tonic, and orange or cranberry juices. Instead opt for a no-added sugar flavored seltzer or splash of real fruit from a lemon, orange, or lime.
Not following these tips can leave you with a massive hangover which is basically your body telling you that it is dehydrated and depleted of essential nutrients.
During a hangover you may crave fried and greasy foods but what you really need to help heal your body. So instead of scarfing down pizza and fries you’re better off adding some vitamins and minerals back to your body. After boozing too much your body is in depletion of fiber, vitamins B and C along with minerals magnesium, and electrolytes like sodium and potassium.
Want to get back to feeling normal? Then try to eat some of these foods:
- Kale: This nutrient rich veggie replenishes your vitamin C levels, which help detoxify your liver. It also replenishes your electrolytes, potassium and magnesium
- Eggs: A good source of healthy fat and B vitamins that will help to replenish you body. Add some veggies and scramble to get extra fiber
- Grass fed burger on romaine leaves meets the fat craving without the refined carbohydrates of white bread
- Ginger and peppermint can help settle your stomach
- Bananas and fermented foods, like kimchee, help to add potassium and help with any post alcohol diarrhea
- Bone broth will give you the missing electrolytes as well as the magnesium and potassium your body is lacking
Want a recipe to kick the hang over? Try my Green Immunity Smoothie Recipe.
Aside from alcohol, another thing to keep your eye on in your 20’s is making sure you are getting optimal nutrition at every meal. Often times women in this age group have multiple work, family, and social commitments that take them away from the kitchen for long periods of the day.
Today’s society of 20 somethings will opt for a take-out meal or frozen dinner because they have limited time for cooking. This can lead to health problems and weight gain if you are eating too many calorically dense foods with little nutrition. Eating out or grabbing a frozen meal means you have no idea what they are putting in the food. These foods can often be high in sodium, trans fat and low in nutrients.
Are you getting a vegetable and healthy fat at each meal? If not, you should try to incorporate more veggies into your diet. These will fill you up with nutrients like fiber and vitamins so you are not hungry 30 minutes later.
If you live in a region that offers healthier nutritious take-out options be sure to look for meals that are high in vegetables. For other more traditional take-out here are some tips to keep your health in check when eating out:
- Skip the dip and get your sauce on the side. Having sauces and dressing on the side allows you to decide how much you want to eat. Love sour cream? Try substituting with 0% fat greek yogurt or guacamole.
- Make sure your grains are whole grains (stay away from anything that says “enriched”). Opt for brown rice, quinoa, and farro instead of white rice and pasta. If you are having a meal at the end of the day and plan to be couch surfing the night away (hey it happens!) try to stay away from eating any grains since you will not be exerting much energy to burn them off.
- Ditch the fries and opt for veggies! This is a tough one but doing so 9 out of 10 times really adds up! If your meal comes with fries ask to substitute with a favorite veggie or salad instead.
- Make sure your meal selection has PROTEIN. Carb heavy meals (pizza, pasta, large subs) will leave you feeling hungry soon after eating. Having protein with each meal and snack is the best way to fill you up.
- Try a healthy delivery service that offers clean eating. There are so many of these cropping up that you have your pick to find the best one that suits you (many have vegan and gluten-free options as well). Some services will require that you do some cooking while others are entirely heat and eat so select the option that is best for your lifestyle.
- Limit your intake of cheese. While it is a source of protein it is also high in sodium and fat. Try to only have one serving (1-2 oz, for reference 1 oz is equivalent to a pair of dice) per day.
- Meal prep. Have time to cook one day for a few hours? This is the best way to have food ready so you’re not scrambling and always ordering out. Here’s a helpful video, including recipes shared by BuzzFeed.
- Need to Google the ingredients? If your meal has a word you need to look up, it is probably not real food. Look for products that have few ingredients with whole foods like veggies and protein. Unsure? Download the app Fooducate and see how processed your item is. Stick to grades of A or B+ to ensure a better product.
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