Alcohol and the Holidays

Alcohol and the Holidays

How to manage the holiday season in a happy and healthy way!

alcohol at the holidays

Although there are daily headlines about the benefits to your health of wine and other drinks, it is important to understand what drinking does to your body. Alcohol contains empty calories and has no nutritional value. Your body can't store alcohol, so it must metabolize it right away.

All ethyl alcohol which is broken down in the human body is first converted to acetaldehyde, and then this acetaldehyde is converted into acetic acid radicals--also known as acetyl radicals. Acetaldehyde is a poison which is a close relative of formaldehyde (here come the jokes about being “pickled” or preserved!)

When you drink alcohol, your body makes metabolizing it a priority over all other metabolic processes. Your body sends alcohol to the liver, which produces the enzymes necessary for the oxidation and metabolism of alcohol. Your body won't metabolize sugars and fats as efficiently during the metabolism of alcohol, which can cause your metabolism to slow. This can contribute to weight gain, as can the empty calories found in alcohol.

Not only does alcohol not contain any nutrients of its own, but alcohol also irritates your gastrointestinal tract, is toxic to your liver, and can damage your body's ability to absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the food you eat.

A full stomach helps break down alcohol, but not because your food "soaks up" the alcohol. The food in your stomach keeps the alcohol there before it heads straight to the high-absorption small intestine. That way the enzymes in your stomach have more time to work on the alcohol. Drink on an empty stomach, and the liquid quickly makes it into the small intestine, where there's more than 200 square meters of surface area for absorption into your body.

Even occasional alcohol consumption can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar levels, especially when consumed on an empty stomach. That's why drinking alcohol can be very detrimental to your weight loss program, which is typically anti-inflammatory and includes strategies for regulating your blood sugar.

Don’t let alcohol hinder your weight management plans this Holiday Season. Keep the following facts in mind when you imbibe now or any other time:

  • Holiday “cheer” can often contain many calories and lots of sugar, both of which will threaten your weight management plans.
  • Alcohol will ruin your sleep! You may fall asleep easily but when your brain starts to catch up with what’s been happening, it will wreak havoc with your crucial REM sleep. And if you’ve had coffee to sober up, then both chemicals will be at war and that will lead to some very uncomfortable sleep!
  • Alcohol does loosen some inhibitions, including appetite control. You might drink too much and forget about eating (yikes!) or you might drink just enough to eat too much!

In conclusion, alcohol is not friendly to the body, although it may seem like fun. So try to drink in moderation and take really good care of yourself! For more information on how to take care of yourself, please visit my website,

Happy Holidays!