Healthiest Alcohol Habits: 9 Tips from Dietitians

Healthiest Alcohol Habits: 9 Tips from Dietitians

Learn how you can enjoy alcohol in a healthful balanced way with these 9 Tips from Dietitians for the Healthiest Alcohol Habits.

Whether it’s holiday time, party time, or just a weekend “wine” down, today more and more people are motivated to be more healthful and balanced in their enjoyment of alcoholic beverages in pursuit of their health goals. Alcoholic drinks can be packed with sugar, fat, and calories, potentially weighing you down. Plus, research continues to highlight the negative health impacts of drinking too much, reinforcing the importance of keeping those cocktails and glasses of wine in moderation for optimal health.

What is moderate alcohol intake? Moderate alcohol intake is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two per day for men. A drink is considered to be 12 ounces regular beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces 80-proof distilled spirits. In fact, there may be health benefits from completely abstaining from alcohol, including if you are diagnosed with particular health conditions, take specific medications, or suffer from alcohol intolerance. Thank goodness there are more alcohol free beverages available these days, such as alcohol free wine, alcohol free beer, and mocktails (check out my collection of light mocktail recipes here). But if you do choose to drink in moderation, it’s important to stay on track with the healthiest drinking habits during special times of the year, from New Year’s Eve to football season. So, I asked some of the top nutrition experts to share their best tips for staying in the spirit of health and celebration, while still drinking wisely.



If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Local wines in South Tyrol, Italy

Healthiest Alcohol Habits: 9 Tips from Dietitians

Try this recipe for Mint Water with Lime and Lemon

1. Stay Hydrated with Old-Fashioned H2O

“Water is a winner when it comes to drinking in moderation. Not only does it make a great mixer for your cocktail, it also gives you something to sip between beverages. Create a spritzer by mixing carbonated water with your glass of wine or, sip on something simple such as a vodka and club soda,” says Heather Mangieri, RDN.

Be mindful of your drinking by tracking how many glasses or drinks you’ve had.

2. Stick to One Glass at a Time

“Don’t keep topping off that wine glass. It’s so easy to lose track of how much you have consumed! Pour a glass (5 ounce). Enjoy. Follow wine with a glass of water and then, revisit the wine. It’s a nice cycle to keep track of how much alcohol and calories you have consumed!” says Caroline Susie, dietitian in Dallas specializing in corporate wellness.

Create a plan for how much to drink before you arrive at an event.

3. Strategize Before You Drink

“Creating a plan before you arrive is a simple but strategic way to enjoy alcohol in moderation. You might decide to have a cocktail during the social hour and a glass of wine with dinner. By deciding in advance, and telling your partner or a friend, you can pace yourself while still enjoying your beverage of choice!” says Jennifer Hunt, RDN, LD.

Truly savor your drink instead of just downing it. One of my favorite light drinks is this Hugo Spritz.

4. Savor Your Favorite Drink

“I usually enjoy one cocktail. I know that more doesn’t last better, it’s just more. But that ONE sure does taste good! Then will have a sparkling water, such as La Croix. I appreciate when hostess has a non-alcoholic option,” says Registered dietitian Judy Barbe, and author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest.

Cucumber Herb Champagne Sparkler

5. Mix Your Drinks with Sparkling Water

“I like to have flavored, sparkling water available. And if I know I want to have more than one drink I will make them half strength (if possible – easier with mixed drinks!). I will normally do 1/2 shot spirit, mostly seltzer/club soda, and a splash of regular juice or soda. Or I sign up to be DD!” says Erin Burke, MS, RDN, LDN.

Enjoying a local wine in Puglia, Italy.

6. Wine Choice Matters

“One of the best things I learned from a recent trip to Europe was how much more I enjoy lower alcohol wines and how much better they leave me feeling the next day. While a difference of 2% may not seem like a lot — between a 12% Chianti and a 14% Shiraz, for instance — the effect it has on you is noticeable. If you’re able to choose your own wines for holiday parties, etc., be sure to check the label. You’ll end up drinking “less alcohol” overall simply by choosing a wine with a lower alcohol content,” says Regan Jones, registered dietitian and host of This Unmillennial Life Podcast.

7. Start the Night with a Glass of Water

“When you arrive to a holiday party, drink water before having a cocktail. Chances are you are dehydrated, so you would drink the cocktail too fast if you start with it. By drinking water first, you hydrate and slow down your drinking, making your alcoholic beverage last longer,” says Kristi Coughlin, MS, RDN, LD.

Chickpea Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Hummus

8. Eat Before You Drink

“Don’t show up to the party on an empty stomach. If you’re hungry and thirsty upon arrival, it’s easy to get tipsy quicker than planned, even if you do moderate your alcohol intake at the party. Have a small protein and fiber-rich snack about 1-2 hours before the event to put something in your stomach (apple with peanut butter, anyone?). Also, when you’re at the party, make sure to swap out a few rounds for water or seltzer, especially when you’re talking and catching up with friends. It’s easy for beverages to go down quicker when we’re chatting up a storm, so alternating non-alcoholic beverages will be a power move,” says Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT.

This recipe for Light Aperol Spritz is lighter in alcohol compliments of sparkling water.

9. Keep the Alcohol Portion in Check with Dilution

“One of my best tips is with the spirits! I know many RDs have dined with me and laughed when I order a shot of tequila and glass of club soda, but, I can keep the actual portion in check of the spirit without getting 2-3 times that amount in a well drink. Mix that into a club soda, add a lemon and lime and viola, a healthy, hydrating drink!” says Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, of Simple Swaps.

For other blogs on nutrition, health, and wellness, check out the following:

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