Sunday, 13 March 2011

It's not necessarily alcohol that's the problem....

....it's the food you eat when you are drunk and the food you eat to help your hangover!
I'm not perfect when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, no one is. But, as I always say, it is about being good most of the time, and having a treat once in a while.
We went away over the weekend to stay in Nottingham, and whilst I knew I wouldn't be able to eat the balanced diet I normally do, I tried as best as I could. I practiced what I preached when it came to the buffet and treated myself to a bit of dessert. The fruit kebabs dipped in chocolate were definitely worth it. Nottingham being full of hills helped a little to burn it off after.

 A pretty big night out was planned, which I knew meant drinking. I try not to drink too often, and I don't see anything wrong with a couple of social glasses of wine every so often, but that is because I have reached my goal. In my opinion, I know some people will disagree, if you are serious about weight loss, you shouldn't drink at all for a while. When I first started losing weight, I gave up drinking. I didn't drink for 6 months and it was the best decision I made. For a start, I was drinking cider before that and what a huge amount of calories that is. Alcohol doesn't provide any nutrients, just a lot of calories and a lot of pain the next morning. If you have half a bottle of wine, that is 250 empty calories that could have been spent on a meal. I'm not going to go into any detail about all the other negative effects alcohol has, like liver damage, as we know all about that.
But, if you like a drink when you socialise, as long as you eat well during the week, a few drinks at the weekend won't do too much damage. The one thing that I always try to remind myself, is that your body will burn off the alcohol before it will burn off fat supplies. So, if you have a lot to drink, but think going to the gym the next day will still aid your weight loss, it won't. All the effort you put in at the gym after drinking will only burn off the calories you drank, and none of the fat you are trying to shift. This is fine if you are just maintaining your weight, as you drink and then burn off just that the next day. But if you are trying to lose fat, drinking is not going to help that.

If you are going to drink, choose your drinks wisely. When I did start drinking again, I only drank vodka, soda water and lime. It is the lowest calorie drink. Avoid diet fizzy drinks, because of the artificial sweeteners and just go for soda water. White wine and soda is another good option, although a little higher in calories. It goes without saying, avoid pints of cider and beer. Cocktails are also not a great option. You might think because it has fruit juice in it that it is good for you, but they are massively high in calories. Another good idea, is to drink lots of water at the same time. Have a pint of water in between ever alcoholic drink you have. Not only will it ensure you drink less, it will ease the hangover the next day too, trust me.

There are many people who think that a little bit of alcohol can have all kinds of health benefits, but I am focusing on it in regards to weight loss, which there is no benefit.

The reason why I think alcohol should be avoided, if you are serious about losing weight, is because, like the title says, I don't think that alcohol is really the problem, it is what you eat after. This is where my problems was, and still is. For most people, alcohol increases your appetite and when drunk, you are less likely to make good food choices. How many times after drinking, or when hungover have you really craved a salad? You don't. You crave comfort food, and that means loads of calories. If you are going to eat badly, try and make the best choices you can. Our drunken food of choice last night was subway - much better choice (if choosing the right filling) than a dirty kebab or deep fried chips. I made sure to have wheat bread and loads of salad in it, to make it the best choice I possibly could. I skipped on the fizzy drink with it and just had a water.

 

That would have been fine, but then we found a Greggs bakery that was open until 4am, and we wanted cake. We shared a muffin and cornflake cake, so it could have been worse. But, when sober, I would never make those food choices in one day. Especially after having been to a buffet at lunch. But, I had eaten well for 2 weeks before that, I had planned for it, and I made the best choices I could.
It's not just the food you eat the night you are drinking, it's the food you eat when hungover. You wake up with a mouth that feels like a carpet and you just want to sit in front of the TV all day and eat junk food. That just isn't going to be good for you. The first thing we did when we woke up was drink lots of water and eat a banana. When you drink alcohol, your bodies potassium levels lower, which is one of the reaons you feel so bad the next day. Bananas are really high in potassium, so although they won't cure the hangover, they will make you feel a lot better. They are also high in potassium, which will help that thumping headache you have woken up with.



So, one of the points of this blog was to try and give healthier alternatives to the foods we love. When I am hungover, I crave food like burgers and chips. When we got back home today, this is what I made. But I made it as healthy as I possibly can.
Here is my recipe for mushroom and halloumi burgers with sweet potato wedges.

Ingredients:
- 2 sweet potatoes
- Paprika
- Cayenne pepper
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 4 slices of halloumi cheese

1) Peel the potatoes




2) Cut into chips/wedges




3) Boil the chips for 10 minutes




4) Drain them and put onto a baking tray, spray with fry-lite and sprinkle with paprika and Cayenne pepper and bake at 220C for 40 minutes.




5) After they have been in the oven for 25 minutes, grill the portobello mushrooms and halloumi slices for the remaining 15 minutes and then serve with salad.

If you do drink, try to just have a few, make good food choices, drink a lot of water, and don't walk into anything....I have a bruise all the way up my arm!

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