Seven tips for choosing healthier drinks, and avoiding that hangover

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  • There are several factors to take into consideration when choosing alcoholic beverages
  • It is important to know which are the least calorie-dense options
  • We also need to consider how our drink options will affect the way we feel the next morning 

We had to endure a festive season without "festive" drinks, and now that the ban has – to a certain extent – been lifted, we can freely enjoy alcoholic drinks again.

To be honest, our drinks not only taste good, but allow us to relax and "take a load off" at the end of the day or week.

However, the challenge we're faced with is to balance the pleasure of enjoying alcoholic drinks and their consequences.

Similar amounts of energy

This basically means that we need to be careful about the type of drinks and how many of them we consume. We all know that most alcoholic drinks are calorie-dense and we can easily pick up a few kilos if we are not careful with our choices.

A common question asked is which drink is healthiest? Contrary to popular belief, whiskey is not necessarily a better choice than beer. In fact, all alcoholic beverages are calorie-dense.

The table below clearly displays that no matter what drink you consume, they contain an almost identical amount of energy.

Alcoholic drinks

The following seven tips can assist you in finding a balance:

1. Choosing a light beer or wine will save you approximately 5g of alcohol and 200kJ per drink.

2. Choosing an alcohol-free beer (depending on the brand) will save you 280kJ per drink.

3. Choose a beer shandy. Adding sugar-free lemonade can save you 400kJ per drink.

4. Changing the mixers we add to our spirits can make a big difference.

  • Replacing the mixers in orange juice and vodka and rum and cola with sugar-free versions can save you around 35g sugar (7 teaspoons) and 650kJ of energy per drink.
  • Having sugar-free Ginger Ale with your brandy and sugar-free tonic water with your gin can save you 580kJ and 30g (6 teaspoons) of sugar. To take it a step further, an alcohol- and sugar-free gin and tonic only provides 140kJ per 275ml serving.
  • The best mixers for most drinks (by far) are soda water and sugar-free lemonade, containing zero sugar and energy (kilojoules).

5. Reduce the number of cocktails such as Mojitos, Pimm’s, Daiquiri or Granita (which are made with syrups, spirits, and fruit juices) by ordering a sugar-free lemonade or sparkling water served with lemon as your second drink.

6. It is not only the types of drinks we choose, but also the amount we drink during a party. To cut down, one can enjoy two drinks simultaneously, one alcoholic and in the other alcohol-free – for example a sugar-free cola with lemon. Keep this drink in your hand and the alcoholic drink on the table to sip on every now and then.

7. A good way to save energy, especially for wine lovers, is to add lots of ice. This dilutes the wine, and you end up only drinking half the amount.

This table displays how you can save calories and still enjoy a delicious drink, along with waking up the next morning feeling a lot fresher.    

Drink comparisons

READ | '0% alcohol' beverages may be the latest sipping trend, but for recovering alcoholics, it could be a dangerous trigger

READ | Alcohol may be sabotaging your diet

READ | Booze ban not all bad – alcohol does your immune system no favour

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