Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Healthier Cocktail?

If there is one thing we human beings are good at, it's rationalizing our choices, or a process known as cognitive dissonance--we know we shouldn't be doing something but we will do it anyway, and then try to come up with all kinds reasons why our choice was justifiable.  And that's what I thought of when I read this article about some restaurants are now creating and marketing "healthier cocktails."

What's wrong with cocktails when drinking alcohol in moderation doesn't seem to be a problem?  Well, first of all, not everybody practices moderation, period.  Second of all, cocktails by their very nature tend to be empty/un-needed calories that mostly serve to thwart your weight loss efforts instead of helping.  Third, if you've got diabetes or one of those insulin-resistant conditions that I am so fond of talking about, you are probably getting way more carbohydrate in those drinks than you might initially suspect, and if you already have wildly swinging blood glucose levels any alcohol might make that worse.  Fourth, since people have to do a little more digging to figure out the carb/calorie content of those drinks, it's easier to allow that information to go by the way side when you're concentrating on the nice restaurant that you are at.   So, those of us that have done even a little bit of research into why that cocktail may not be so good for us, but still like to have them, might start to do a little rejoicing when you see "healthier cocktail."

Until I come along and ruin it for you.  You asked for it by reading my blog.

If you are hoping to save on some calories by consuming some of these cocktails, I don't think your in luck.  If I did my calculations correctly, the recipe for the cocktail recipe they gave in the article is still going to run about 150-163 calories, about the same as a can of soda.  Granted, that's less than margarita which could run 400 calories plus, but if you have more than one ("It's a healthy cocktail!") it starts to add up.  I also noticed that a lot of the cocktails mentioned seemed to have fruit juice, and even if it's "fresh pressed" you are still running the risk of allowing some extra carbohydrate in there.  And those cocktails that promise to "boost your immunity?"  I've already talked about how that doesn't mean what you think it means.  Now you might actually get some antioxidants and other good things by having that beet juice, but you could also just eat the beets, or whatever other vegetable they are putting in there and not get the extra calories.

My suggestion is to first learn to say, "I am drinking a cocktail because I damn well want to."  (The choice of "colorful metaphors" is up to you).  My other suggestion, if you really are concerned about the calories and carbohydrate is to spend a little time on the internet ahead of time and research which ones have the least amount of carbohydrate and calories, or better yet, just make your own at home so you can control what goes in it.  (Boyfriend of SkepticRD makes a damn good whiskey sour with Splenda).  And of course, plan ahead of time how much you are going to drink, and maybe even ask a buddy to help you keep it in "moderation."

Take home message--Quit rationalizing and do a little homework before you drink.  And enjoy it in a way that you don't regret it later.

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