Prepping for holiday parties: Alcohol and metabolism

‘Tis the season of gift-giving, jingle bells and sleigh rides. It’s also the season of office parties, eggnog and boozy holiday get-togethers. Can you enjoy the occasional tipple while keeping your metabolism on track? Yes, you can, my little Christmas elf.

Alcohol really doesn’t do anything for your metabolism. Alcohol is a time-waster for your liver. We want your liver processing fat, not wasting it’s time on alcohol. But with a little forethought, you can certainly enjoy a drink at your next party.

Before your event

It’s easy to forget that alcoholic drinks contain sugar from grapes, and even spirits have some sugar. Eating meals that contain protein before your party will help control the delivery of sugar to your bloodstream.

  • Eat every 3 hours throughout the day
  • Aim for 10 – 15 grams of protein with each meal or snack
  • Add a protein snack 30 minutes before you plan to drink. Try cocktail shrimp, meatballs, or raw nuts instead of empty carbs like chips or cookies.

During the party

Keep water in your other hand. For each glass of wine or mixed drink, drink at least 8 ounces of water.

Add lime juice to your water — not just a lime garnish, but juice of a whole lime. Lime juice has calcium, and has 2.5 times more vitamin A than lemon. Vitamin A helps the liver process alcohol more quickly.

When ordering your drink, go for:

  • Organic, sulfite-free red wine. This seems to have the least effect on liver function.
  • Top-shelf liquors. They are cleaner, with fewer added chemicals and fake ingredients. Clear liquors like gin, rum and vodka are generally better.
  • Watch the mixers. Choose good quality mixers as well. Soda water is fine. Keep in mind that tonic water is full of sugar. Juices should be fresh, not full of colors or fake flavorings. Avoid sodas and energy drinks as mixers.
  • Skip the beer. If you want to keep your metabolism humming, beer is not the best choice. It has more carbohydrates than wine or liquor.

The day after

Drink extra water and make yourself this simple, cleansing soup that’s great for the liver and adrenals. This broth is great anytime, but is particularly useful after you’ve been drinking to help the liver process toxins (the booze you drank) efficiently. Drink 1 to 3 cups three times during the next day.

Liver-detox broth

4 medium zucchini, sliced
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 big bunches parsley, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 sprig each of thyme, rosemary and tarragon, tied together with string (optional)

1 quart spring water
Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
Place water, vegetables, and optional herbs in a pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove herbs. Eat as is or puree in a blender.