Posted On Dec 20, 2018 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

people celebrating the holidays with alcohol

With the joy of the holidays all around us, the cling-clang of cheers involving alcohol is in full swing. In my family, celebrating usually (who am I kidding?), ALWAYS includes alcohol. With a background in wine grape growing, it's part of who we are. For me, having a glass of wine is like sipping in a taste of home. I instantly can picture the rolling hills of vineyard behind my parents' house and along with it a multitude of fond memories, including our notorious Charlie Brown-like Christmas trees, my Grandma's homemade Rocky Road candy, and driving through the nearby small towns to see Christmas lights.

But this holiday season is different; not only do I want to avoid the vicious cycle of over-indulgence (drink, eat more than I should, feel lousy, lose motivation to work out, feel lousier - can you relate?), I HAVE to for health reasons. My body's inability to process alcohol (for unknown reasons yet) means having just two glasses of wine leaves me feeling hungover for DAYS on most occasions. No fun.

Have you given this much thought? Do you have a plan for eating and drinking this holiday season? I do and I want to share it with you! With my in-laws, who I love dearly, coming into town for two weeks between Christmas and New Year's, there's going to a lot of imbibing. They, and my husband, thoroughly enjoy exploring microbreweries, sampling whiskies and bourbons, and wine tasting. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with this but I'm developing a plan to severely restrict my alcohol intake out of necessity to preserve my physical health and consequent happiness.

It's not going to be easy and I'm preparing myself now to get a fair share of innocent pressure to indulge ("Can't you have just one?" or "You have to try this!") but anticipating these challenges is the first part of my 5-step plan for avoiding overindulging, whether from holiday food, drink, or both:

  1. Anticipate pressure from family, and friends. Develop and practice a few responses to get people off your back quickly if you're choosing a healthier route and bypassing holiday treats, drinks included.

  2. Have alternatives. My go-to's are Spindrift or sparkling water, tea or coffee, Tonic with fresh lime, or non-alcoholic beer. I tried non-alcoholic wine and champagne but it's like drinking juice in my opinion. I'd rather save the calories and indulge in dessert!

  3. Go in with well-defined moderation if you choose to drink at a certain function or party. For example, I'm going to enjoy one glass of wine on New Year's Eve. Knowing this ahead of time will help me avoid alcohol in the weeks leading up to ringing in 2019.

  4. Develop the right mindset. I'm continually practicing this but believing I can stay strong, and avoid drinking is 80% of the battle. Believing in yourself and your ability, no matter what the goal, usually translates to success more often than self-doubt and negativity. 5

  5. Workout more - Say what? During the holiday season? I'm not kidding. Even if it's only 5-10 minutes, a short sweat-sesh will do more than you think to help over-eating and over-drinking. Exercise = willpower. Crazy, huh? Give it a try! I'm planning ahead in this department too by pinning short-workout-anywhere-minimal equipment workouts on my Pinterest Fit board. And letting go of any feelings of guilt and selfishness to stay consistent with workouts in lieu of 20 minutes here and there of family time (and perhaps sleep!).

Here's to staying on track through the holiday season! Wishing all of you a happy and healthy 2019!