Friday, January 31, 2014

Knowing your alcohol limits

This year I joined the trend and abstained from alcohol for Dry January and was very pleased with my willpower, it really wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I’m sure my internal organs rejoiced in the lack of alcohol, they do say your levels of liver fat, blood glucose and cholesterol can all improve dramatically by abstaining for a month, even in a moderate drinker, which is what I classed myself as.

I’m no angel and have had my moments of excess over the years, but since turning 40 I’ve found I really can’t hold my drink. On the few occasions in the last two years when I have overindulged I’m ashamed to say I have not made it out of bed the following day, at all! Things have changed, but I still enjoy a rosé wine for an apero and often a glass of red while watching TV in the evening. There are of course those evenings when one glass is never enough.

The recommended alcohol limits are 14 units a week for women and 21 units for men, but what is a unit? A little Internet investigation surprised me a bit. One 125ml glass of rosé as I’m preparing dinner and one 125ml glass of red wine while relaxing on the sofa every night of the week adds up to 21 units per week and around 1190 empty calories consumed. I thought I was a moderate drinker, but I was regularly drinking about 7 units too many a week. I will admit to being shocked by this, but thankfully taking a step back this January has made me realise I don’t need to continue these bad habits. It is worth pointing out here that in the UK at least, I have regularly struggled to get served anything smaller than a 175ml glass of wine, which really annoys me and is just wrong. I consider myself to be fairly health conscious and have long given up on the bucket sized wine glass, but I was still unaware how much I was regularly drinking so I’m sure I won’t be the only one. In the same way eating from a smaller plate reduces your food portions, using a smaller glass must help to control what you are drinking.

French Village Diaries Dry January Health Alcohol Units Wine Drinking
My could-almost-be Chardonnay
The thing I enjoy most about my rosé apero is that it’s cool, fruity, refreshing and just perfect for the end of the day. Well I’ve found something else that is cool, fruity, refreshing and 100% alcohol free. Every morning I slice a whole lemon, half a cucumber and grate a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, put everything in a big jug and top it up with water. I leave it in the fridge and by the evening, served in a wine glass, it is the perfect refreshing drink for my apero and my relaxing time on the sofa. With it’s pale colour, hints of citrus and undertones of ginger, it could almost be a Chardonnay! In the summer I’m thinking a handful of fresh mint and fizzy water will jazz it up nicely.

Not being one to waste food I have been freezing the leftover sliced lemons to add to the pot next time I slow cook a whole chicken. The cucumber slices, infused with lemon and ginger, have made a delicious dip when blended with natural yoghurt and also a vivid green smoothie with a couple of kiwis added for sweetness.

Cheers! Here’s to your good health and to a HUGE harvest of cucumbers in the potager this year.