THE REAL HOLIDAY SPIRIT

In Magazine, Robert's Letters by RI Magazine

Making a habit of winter boozing is going to make next year even more difficult.

BY ROBERT IRVINE

“The Christmas spirit is not what you drink.”

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull wrote that line for “A Christmas Song” and I always think of it at this time of year. We tend to overdo everything in December. We overeat at parties, we overspend on gifts, and many of us overdrink. Holiday office parties are stocked to the ceiling with liquor and it seems like everyone you know wants to get together for a year-end drink. New Years Eve is synonymous with having a few too many. Is it any surprise that liquor stores all do their best business in December?

To say nothing of the perils of overeating and overspending, overdrinking is the one that can compound negatively very fast and make your 2016 a lot more difficult. Alcohol puts you in double trouble because it slows your metabolism and is simultaneously digested as a sugar. In excess quantities, alcohol makes it easy to gain weight and harder to take it off. If that weren’t enough, it stimulates your appetite and makes you significantly hungrier by drink number two or three. If you venture much beyond that point, you’re going to be insatiable well into the next day and maybe beyond.

And no, I’m not here to be a killjoy and tell you that you can’t celebrate. What I am saying is that you should take stock at this point in the month and pinpoint the two or possibly three times you’d like to indulge. Maybe you’d like to have a few glasses of wine with Christmas dinner, a couple of beers at the work party, and some champagne on New Years Eve. If you plan for it and create an intention to really enjoy it, it’s also easier to plan on cleaning up your diet before and after those days. But if you go into the home stretch of 2016 with no plan at all, then you’re leaving yourself open to the whims of whoever’s around you. Heading into what is easily the most stressful time of the year, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself indulging on a much more regular basis. Two or three nights in a month? Most of us can get over that pretty quickly with no harm done. But do it for a week or more and you can expect to tip the scales a few pounds heavier and with lower energy to boot.

If you want to ignore that advice and deal with the consequences, well then, we’re all adults here. All I would say in parting is to ask yourself before you have a drink: Why do I want this? Is it to celebrate? Or to cope? If it’s the latter, I hope it’ll give you pause—and reason to look to 2017 as a chance to correct the things in your life that are causing so much stress.

We all deserve to kick back and enjoy the holidays. I’ve earned it this year and I know that you have, too. Just remember the difference between wanting to have a drink to loosen up a bit—and needing one to get you there.

Yours in health,

Robert

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