Is Alcohol Sabotaging Your Diet and Your Health?

All year long, there are reasons to celebrate. Holidays, birthdays, summer vacations, graduations, weddings, it’s Wednesday. But studies consistently show that alcohol impedes the best-intended diets and overall health. One night of partying could set you back 1,000 calories. If this sounds like a buzz kill, consider the following:

Excess (Empty) Calories: If you enjoy mixed drinks and cocktails, the alcohol is not the problem, but the sugary mixes like juice and soda. For example, one jigger (1.5 fluid ounce) of vodka is only 97 calories. Combined with juice or soda and your drink now contains 250 calories. For one drink! Wine, light beer, and pure forms of alcohol — such as vodka, whiskey, rum and gin — offer few or zero carbs per serving and are easily paired with low calorie mixers like seltzer, diet soda, or sugar-free tonic water.

Slower Metabolism: Drinking alcohol decreases your ability to burn fat and slows your metabolism by approximately 70-percent. For example, when you drink, your body converts its energy on eliminating the toxins in alcohol instead of the bag of chips you ate before you went to bed.

Increased Appetite: Drinking alcohol harms brain chemicals and may cause you to lose your inhibitions, especially when it comes to eating and snacking. For example, you are more likely to reach for a carbohydrate-rich, sugar, and/or fat-laden snack or meal when you drink alcohol.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. Examples of one drink include:

•    Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)

•    Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)

•    Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)

There are pros and cons to moderate alcohol use. Moderate alcohol consumption may provide some health benefits, such as:

•    Reducing your risk of developing and dying from heart disease

•    Possibly reducing your risk of ischemic stroke (when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow)

•    Possibly reducing your risk of diabetes

Excessive drinking can increase your risk of severe health problems, including:

•    Certain cancers, including breast cancer and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver

•    Pancreatitis

•    Heart muscle damage (alcoholic cardiomyopathy) leading to heart failure

•    Stroke

•    High blood pressure

•    Liver disease

Your diet is only one part of the equation. For optimal health, it is best to keep alcohol consumption in check to avoid adverse health effects and an expanded waistline.

Quote of the week:

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Recipe of the Week: Summer Vegetable Ribbon Salad

All you need is a vegetable peeler and fresh vegetables for this colorful summer side dish.


1 zucchini, ends cut off

1 yellow squash, ends cut off

1 small bunch asparagus, tough ends removed

2 large carrots, peeled and ends cut off

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces shaved Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zucchini, squash, and carrots into long thin strips (“ribbons”). Thinly slice the asparagus on a diagonal.

Fill a small saucepan with water, and bring a boil over high heat. Carefully add in the sliced asparagus, and boil for 1-2 minutes, until the asparagus turns bright green. Using a slotted spoon, remove the asparagus and immediately place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let sit for a minute, then drain the water, and toss the asparagus with the zucchini, squash, and carrots in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and drizzle over the vegetables. Toss to coat. Garnish with the pecorino or parmesan shavings. Serve.

Published by

Leslie Ouellette

Listening and learning about nutrition, exercise, and health-related issues has been a life-long passion turned into action. I am most passionate about my family, friends, and good health. I am a business professional with over 30 years of expertise in marketing, market research, communications, writing, and editing. @balancedhealthblog

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