So, yesterday was my Birthday and I had a fabulous time. I hadn't drunk for a long time, but as it was my Birthday, it seemed only right to have a few drinks at my Halloween party last night! Alcohol and Paleo? Do they mix?
I think there are two main problems with drinking whilst adhering to a Paleo lifestyle. Clearly the ingredients in alcohol are often far from Primal. Alcohol can contain a lot of sugar and gluten in grain based drinks, such as beer. I think the other big issue with drinking is that you may start off with good intentions, but after a few drinks you may become less cautious with drink choice, and more prone to eat un-Paleo food when you inevitably get hungry later on.
Alcohol clearly is not Paleo, and I think it’s a best kept as an occasional treat. There, of course, are times that you want to enjoy a few drinks. At these times, by making good choices along with a degree of planning, you can minimise the damage from a night out.
Before Going Out
- Think about where you’re going and what you’ll be drinking before you go. This way it will be a lot easier to stick to your plans, instead of trying to work it out at the bar and ending up with a beer in your hand.
- Are you going to be eating at a Paleo friendly restaurant during the evening? If not, I think it’s very wise to eat just before you go out. Make sure you don’t shy away from fat and protein in your pre-drink meal.
- Also, I think it’s very wise to prepare some delicious Paleo food for when you get home! If you come in hungry with nothing ready, you might find non-Paleo food a more attractive proposition than you would usually!
At the bar
So, what are the least-bad drink options? And which drinks should you avoid at all costs?
- Many Paleo people swear by Robb Wolf’s NorCal Margarita. This is made with 100% agave tequila, juice and pulp of a fresh lime, ice and soda water. The tequila is made from fermented agave juice, so it is gluten and starch free. The lime is said to dull the insulin response to the alcohol sugars and provide a net alkaline load in the blood stream. The CO2 from the soda water is said to help the alcohol reach the blood stream sooner, meaning you need to drink less.
- Other than Tequila, vodka can be a reasonable choice. Look for vodkas distilled from grapes or potatoes.
- Gin can be an option too, but avoid those distilled from sugar and other grains (look for juniper berries)
- Red wine has the benefit of containing anti-oxidants; another fair choice. • Cider, especially if you can find a good, organic brand, is a far better choice than beer, though still high in sugar.
- Generally dry wines and spirits are the best choices in terms of low-carb content, but be careful with those ingredients!
- Beers are generally going to be heavily grain based. Some barley based beers (such as Belgium beers) may be rendered gluten free by secondary fermentation. You can also get gluten free beers, however they are likely to still contain grains, and other undesirable ingredients. Gluten aside, beer is also very carb heavy; another reason to make a different choice.
- Many drinks are extremely high in sugars. Avoid drinks with fruit juices (these are almost never made with real, fresh fruit juice anyway.
- Premixed drinks often have very un-Paleo ingredients as well as lots of sugars; avoid!
- Mixers such as fizzy soft drinks should be avoided as they are full of sugar and all sorts of artificial ingredients. Have your spirits with soda water, or on ice.
When you get home eat some good Paleo food containing good fat and protein and drink water. Even if it was a late night, try to get up at your usual time the next morning to avoid disrupting your routine for the next few days.
I stuck to vodka, fresh lime and soda water and had a great night. However, I probably won’t drink again for a long time as it doesn't fit in too well with my Paleo lifestyle!
What are your drinking strategies? Am I missing some good tips? What is your favourite drink? Or perhaps you don’t drink at all?