Elizabeth Sommerfeld

Elizabeth Sommerfeld

The 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans does not endorse alcohol consumption, but it does recommend that if you choose to drink, to limit it to one serving for a woman and no more than two for a man per day.

The month of May brings a season of graduation parties, weddings and other fun activities. Many of those celebrations include alcoholic beverages. Make sure to drink responsibly and don’t let socializing get in the way of healthy eating and living.

While some organizations may indicate that light alcohol consumption is OK, there is research out there indicating that alcohol is related to many conditions such as cirrhosis, cancer, increased triglycerides and blood pressure. The 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans does not endorse alcohol consumption, but it does recommend that if you choose to drink, to limit it to one serving for a woman and no more than two for a man per day.

So what is considered a serving? Typically 12 ounces of beer (about 5% alcohol), 5 ounces of wine (about 12% alcohol) and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor or distilled spirits (about 40% alcohol) is considered one serving.

Calories can vary drastically in those servings. For example, a 12-ounce Budweiser Select 55 has 55 calories versus a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, which has 330 calories. Wine is similar, 4 ounces of a white zinfandel contains about 80 calories versus 185 for a ruby port. So if you are watching your calories, make sure to choose wisely.

Also keep in mind that alcohol is absorbed more quickly on an empty stomach, so it is best to eat something before you drink in order to slow down the effect of the alcohol. With that theory, more calories are being consumed, making it difficult to control weight gain.

Alcohol can also lower our inhibitions, making it harder to say no to food items. Research shows that if alcohol is consumed before a meal, we eat about 20% more calories at the meal.

Be smart during this season and don’t drink if you’re underage, don’t drink and drive, and watch your alcohol intake if you’re trying to watch your weight.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld is a registered dietitian for both DeTar Healthcare System and Jackson County Hospital District.

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