Yes, it can be done!

Shaun Clayton, Director of Membership Support at the PHA UK, explains how you can enjoy yourself whilst maintaining weight management.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s important to say that if you have any questions or concerns about how alcohol could interact with any medication, please speak to a trained healthcare professional.

Socialising and seeing friends play a huge part in maintaining a healthy life, let alone diet. It’s so, so important and is often one of the things to fall by the wayside when we start watching what we eat or drink. This then in turn leads us to feel rubbish about ourselves when we do drink, and often we just think ‘sod it’, have a complete blow out, feel the diet is ruined and give up entirely.

If that sounds familiar, read on…

Let’s talk about energy balance. Alcoholic drinks, like everything, contain calories and how we decide to consume those calories is up to us. I wouldn’t advocate making drinking a hugely regular thing if you’re trying to diet, but just so you know, as far as your body is concerned a calorie is a calorie – whether it’s coming from a potato, pick and mix bag, or a bottle of Bud.

(I probably need to mention, before you get too excited, that just because something may have the same caloric content, it does not mean that a bag of sweets is as nourishing as a potato!)

As far as your body is concerned a calorie is a calorie – whether it’s coming from a potato, pick and mix bag, or a bottle of Bud

Imagine your body is a furnace and it doesn’t care where the energy comes from, just so long as it can keep burning.

So, with this in mind, let’s say you’ve got a night out with your partner, the girls or the lads this weekend. You’re losing weight and everything’s going great. What’s the best thing to do? 

Instead of thinking of your calories as a ‘daily’ allowance think of them as ‘weekly’. If you were to have less calories per day leading up to your night out, maybe one slice of toast for breakfast rather than two, or skipping that biscuit with your coffee over the week, you’ll have built up a calorie ‘buffer’ to use on your night out. You’ll only be taking in the same number of calories over the week that you would have done anyway, but in a different way.

We all know that for a lot of us, drinking alcohol can lead to bad choices but here’s how to make it so that those choices don’t lead to ruining the progress you made throughout the week:

  1. Choose a lower calorie drink. Have a gin and slimline tonic rather than a fruity gin and lemonade. Instead of a Stella have a Coors Light, and just say no to Pina Coladas!
  2. Don’t drink too quickly! Enjoy your drink, there’s no need to rush or compete.
  3. As much as you may overindulge slightly with your caloric intake due to the drinks, it’s the food choices that prove most detrimental – do you really need a full pizza to yourself?
  4. Be careful the morning after! You’ll crave carbs, McDonalds and last night’s pizza, but what your body actually needs is hydration, electrolytes and protein. Water, milk and chicken are your friend.