Who doesn’t enjoy a red wine on a cold night? But could your drinking devotion be the reason you can’t lose any weight? We have all the info and tips!

In a recent survey carried out by Caitlin Reid, author of new book “Health & The City”, (mainly) women aged 26-45, 59 per cent said that alcohol was the main reason they weren’t as healthy as they should be; seven per cent rarely or never had two alcohol free days in a week; 63 per cent thought low carb beer was a healthier option than regular beer (it actually has the same amount of alcohol just a few less kilojoules). Out of the following drinks 53 per cent said the single gin and tonic had the least kilojoules. Which would you choose?

Single gin and tonic (200ml); Standard glass of dry white wine (150ml);
Bottle of low carb beer (355ml); Orange juice (200ml) or a glass of lite
milk (200ml)?

Answer: Believe it or not orange juice contains the fewest kilojoules.

“Many Australians overindulge in alcohol, with binge drinking forever being
discussed in the media,” says Caitlin. While many of us may not think we’re
drinking that much alcohol, 8 per cent of us drink daily and avoid having
alcohol free days. Even more alarmingly is that 35 per cent of Australians
drink alcohol at levels above the recommended amount. Many of us don’t
realise the damage that excessive amounts of alcohol can do to our bodies,
and are often easily lead by clever marketing around so-called healthier
alcoholic drinks like low carb lagers or wines”.

Too much alcohol

Most of us enjoy having a drink with our evening meal but, when we open a
bottle of wine, we can end up finishing the entire bottle in one sitting.
Wine glasses today are huge and we tend to get about four glasses of wine
from each bottle instead of the 7.5 standard drinks the bottle is supposed
to provide. It’s just so easy to overindulge.

Many of us consume too much alcohol and this can affect our health:
Short-term effects include dizziness, increased talkativeness, impaired
judgement and coordination, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting. Long-term
alcohol overuse can cause damage to brain cells, cognitive decline, memory
loss and can increase our risk of developing certain cancers.

And not only that, but despite what many people think, alcohol contains lots and lots of kilojoules!! Add these to the kilojoules in our daily intake of meals and snacks PLUS the high fat, salty foods we eat because alcohol increases our hunger and hey presto – suddenly you’ve piled on the weight.

How to lower your booze intake

Enjoy your alcohol in moderation – that’s two standard drinks a day – and
this may help lower your risk of heart disease. (However, if you don’t
drink alcohol, it’s not advised that you start drinking based on this!)
Include at least two alcohol free days each week. You’ll feel better for it, and get to achieve more out of your days by drinking less.

Caitlin’s healthy drinking tips

1. Choose a non-alcoholic drink as your first drink

2. Mix spirits with diet soft drinks, soda water or plain water

3. Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks

4. When drinking wine, choose a small glass! You’ll be amazed how much further the bottle will go.

5. Eat before you drink, but choose the healthiest food choice.

6. Don’t give in to that burger on the way home!

7. Remember: Low-carb beer contains the same kilojoules as a light
beer, but the same alcohol as a regular one. To save on kilojoules and make
a healthier drinking choice, choose a light beer – they have lower alcohol

8. Be the designated driver when out with friends – you’ll save money and feel great the next day. Use the money you save by not drinking to buy yourself a treat.

“Health & The City” is published by Longueville Media and will be available in leading book stores from July 2009, $22.95. Check out www.healthandthecity.com.au for details or buy it in July at http://longuevill.cart.net.au/details/2553154.html

Caitlin Reid is an accredited practicing dietitian and exercise physiologist and works as a corporate wellness/lifestyle management consultant. She has a private practice at Balmain Sports Physio and is the official sports dietitian for the South Sydney Rabbitohs football team.