Put a Cork in it for Health and a Good Cause!

December and January: You have made it through the Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations (often a time of surplus food and alcohol), made the usual New Year’s resolution (“2012 - lose weight, get fit and cut back on the booze intake”) and before you know it, February has already crept around!

It is now a great time to reflect and ask yourself: “Am I back into my pre-festive season routine with intake and exercise? Am I employing good practices in regards to moderation and portion sizes? Am I on track to achieving my goals? ”. If the answer is no to any of the above, a little extra motivation may be what you are in need of, and a good starting point is often considering alcohol intake.

Alcohol should be promoted as ‘empty calories’ as it does not contain any nutrition but is extremely energy dense – per gram, alcohol almost contains as many calories as fat! In fact for individuals looking to lose weight, this is the exact opposite profile of food that should be consumed ie. Low calorie and nutrient packed. It logically follows that by cutting out/reducing alcohol, this will significantly benefit weight loss efforts. To put things into perspective consider the following: By removing the two glasses of wine consumed each night at dinner for a week you will save yourself ~1200 calories or for a female the equivalent of an additional day’s worth of food!!! Keep in mind the booze is not all bad news – for individuals in their healthy weight range, when consumed in moderation (no more than two standard drinks per sitting) alcohol can be included as part of a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet. In fact, enjoying a glass or red wine per day is associated with a protective effect against heart disease, due namely to the antioxidant resveratrol.

So how can I find some extra motivation to cut back on alcohol you ask? Why not get involved in Febfast and set yourself some alcohol related goals for the month of February! Febfast is a fantastic cause that is raising funds for young Australians overcoming drug and alcohol addiction while also raising awareness about the healthful benefits of abstaining from alcohol. Use this month as an opportunity to practice and implement some strategies that will help you moderate alcohol consumption and hopefully facilitate long-term positive behaviours.

• Plan for social situations – how many drinks am I allowing myself at this event? Set limitations for you intake from the start eg. “I’ll allow myself 2 standard drinks throughout the evening”.
• Suitable substitutes – Are there low calorie alternatives on hand (eg. Soda water and lime or diet soft drink). Can I dilute my alcoholic beverage? (eg. Shandy or spritzer or choose a light beer).
• Avoid peer pressure - be the designated driver, let people know that you are abstaining to raise awareness for a good cause and they will be less likely to hassle you or have a suitable substitute (most people won’t notice the difference if you have a glass in your hand!)

For more information about The Australian Alcohol Guidelines visit http://www.alcohol.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/home and to get involved in Febfast visit http://www.febfastfundraising.com.au/event/febfast2012 .

Will you put a cork in it for health and good cause?

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