Is it Wine o'Clock All the Time? Then It's Time to Mix in Some Organic Versions!

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Tis the season! And for many of us this season means all kinds of alcohol, especially wine and bubbly before, during, and after meals.

Along with a few bottles of champagne, I also have a some bottles of organic wine and prosecco around to enjoy during the holidays. If you’re a wine connoisseur and wincing at the mention of organic, it might be worth considering this compromise for the sake of your health.

I admit that I gave up any hope of being a wine connoisseur long ago when studying yoga and nutrition became more important to my life (of course you can be both, studying wine just naturally became less interesting to me). But, wine and anything effervescent is still my personal slippery slope! When I’m dining out, I’m easy going and choose from the menu or what I’m being served. At home, however, I always drink organic wine. Not everything has to be organic, I know, but why should I ingest pesticides and added sulfites? I learned many years ago that the added—not naturally occurring—sulfites in wine was the main culprit behind the nasty headaches, even when only small or moderate amounts are ingested.

In the US, I used to look for organic wine that was also labeled NSA (No Sulfites Added), but I haven't come across that label in Europe, so I just go for organic. At the very least, even if sulfites were added, at least the grapes haven’t been sprayed with toxic pesticides—and spray they do, those vintners!

I’m not advocating wine as a health drink, on the contrary, while wine marketers would have us believe we’re drinking antioxidants (red wine has a teeny bit, but too meager to be significant) and boosting our memory, sadly the real science doesn’t agree. 

Alcohol causes a host of issues, from wreaking havoc on our gut flora to causing headaches, migraines, and triggering inflammation in the body. It’s also like liquid sugar, especially wine; and beer is basically a glass of gluten. Alcohol causes blood sugar rollercoasters, gets stored as belly fat (it’s not only about beer bellies), upsets digestion, and dehydrates the body. Not to mention it makes us puffy and exacerbates eye bags!

And with all that, I still enjoy wine! It's probably my last frontier in my health overhaul. I can leave if for a few weeks when I’m in detox or reset mode, but on average, I probably have 3 glasses a week—and more if I have a lot of social events. My habits are much better than when I was a single woman in NYC and knocked back 4 martinis AND a bottle of wine with dinner! I’ve come a long way. The reality of motherhood forces me to stay sober and avoid hangovers!

I know moderation is key when partying (I realize this is an oxymoron!), but in addition to going with organic, NSA wine and champagne, I have a few other tips to help you with the holiday drinking:

CLEAN COCKTAILS: If you’re in a cocktail-y mood, go for low sugar alcohol, such as vodka. My go-to cocktail is a clean vodka martini straight up with a twist and I try to nurse it slowly. Vodka is one of the easiest alcoholic drinks on the body and the stronger alcohol content usually means less volume is ingested, whereas it’s very easy to drink several bottles of beer or wine. Avoid or greatly limit mixed cocktails as they’re delicious little sugar bombs.

CHOOSE ALCOHOL OR DESSERT AS YOUR CHOICE OF SUGAR: Since alcohol is liquid sugar, choose dessert or wine as your sugar intake. Simpler said than done, but I usually practice this when I know there is little chance of my resetting my body, such as the festive holiday times when it's one event after another.

START WITH WATER AND ALTERNATE: It’s a habit to arrive at a party and start with a drink right away. Many of us need this to relax and “warm up.” The next party you attend, however, start by hydrating with a sparkling or still mineral water (not club soda). This will also give you a little time to check out the party and guests before going directly into party mode. Then, if possible, drink one glass of water in between each glass of wine.

HYDRATE & FUEL BEFORE GOING OUT: As a person with an alternative diet, I always eat before I go to any event or even to someone’s house for dinner. I will fuel up with a fiber, fat, and protein green smoothie to stabilize my blood sugar so that when I arrive, I won’t eat the entire bread basket or a bunch of fried finger foods in order to better metabolize my alcohol. I want to enjoy a free evening out, but I don’t want to completely sabotage my healthier habits, so this trick works perfectly!

METABOLISM BOOST PRE-PARTY: Before a night of drinking, squeeze in your favorite sweaty workout to pump your metabolism and boost detoxification before indulging. This will also give you a gorgeous glow for the evening, enhance your mood, improve your posture, and help your body cope with the extra food and alcohol!

So, that’s pretty much it! I have a bunch of pre and post supplements I take to help my body metabolize too much alcohol (hello activated charcoal and miso soup!), but that’s for another post.

For more reading on how to party more healthfully, check out my post Making Merry: Tips for All that Eating and Drinking During the Holidays

Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season!

Much love, Juli