Home / The Digest / Holiday Survival Guide: Alcohol and Caffeine
Holiday Survival Guide: Alcohol and Caffeine

Holiday Survival Guide: Alcohol and Caffeine

We’re in the final countdown for 2019 and depending on how you’re feeling about the world, that can mean you’re either doubling down on stimulants and depressants or focusing on living a less “chemically enhanced” life. This time of year can bring on stress, sleep deprivation (yes, Santa came but he told me that the gifts don’t appear ‘til 8:30AM!), and temptation in the form of holiday foods and family get togethers full of people that you may feel are more tolerable after a glass or three of champagne. 

At Jetson, we are all about making health simpler and not prescribing unrealistic routines. We know we can all feel discouraged when we invariably deviate from them over this time of the year.  

When it comes to alcohol and caffeine, the good news is that there are readily available substitutes that, while they don’t have the same physiological effects, can fit the bill when it comes to holiday merriment. There are also some practical tips to imbibe more responsibly – let’s dig in:

Alcohol Protips:

  • Practice 1:1 drinking, meaning for every alcoholic drink you have, drink a glass of water.  It will fill you up and replenish the fluids that alcohol robs from your system.  
  • Only do hard liquor over rocks (so much for my holiday Martinis!). The ice melts, slightly dilutes the alcohol, and you’re likely to drink it more slowly as you navigate the ice cubes – which will reduce the impact on your body as it metabolizes the alcohol out of your system. 
  • Avoid “anything” with soda, tonic, or Coke. Why? A super interesting study from the University of Manchester showed that adding carbonation to your drink actually speeds up the absorption of alcohol into your blood!

Non-Alcoholic Holiday Drinks:

Ready to go alcohol-free (or light!) for the holidays? There are no end of sites on the internet that have hundreds of recipes for great options, so let me just give you a few guidelines that help me:

  • A little bitters make plain old soda water taste magical: Yes, bitters have 40%+ alcohol content, but you literally are putting in a few drops to amp up the flavors. It’s like all the flavor, none of the headache.

  • Raid the garden: Rosemary is my go-to herb when it comes to holiday drinks. Again, the smell of rosemary (or thyme) in a beverage makes it appear more savory than it is – and could almost convince you that’s a craft cocktail in your hand!
  • Heat it up! Warm drinks tend to go down slower, so if you do sneak in some whiskey to your beverage, at least it will take you longer to consume it. And for non-alcoholic warm drinks, Martha’s always got it on lock down (this one too!).
  • TEA IS MOMMY’S LITTLE HELPER: As an alternative in many cocktail recipes you can replace the alcohol with tea – it creates that complex flavor that reminds people of brown liquors. 
  • SHRUBS AREN’T JUST FOR DECORATING: This one is my daughter’s favorite – a beautiful shrub like the ones from Shrub and Co. give you all the flavor with none of the hangover. 

Now – caffeine? You might be asking how you can live without caffeine – I can tell you it’s not that hard. As someone who cut it 7 years ago and never looked back, I can tell you I have MORE energy, sleep better, and don’t suffer from highs-and-lows that only a caffeine-addled brain can generate. All that said, now is probably NOT the time of year to go cold-turkey on your caffeine addiction. Cutting caffeine altogether will set you on your back for a couple days and people won’t want to be around you as your attitude will be…challenging.  

So rather than tell you how to cut caffeine – we can do that in January – at least drink it responsibly. Here are a few tips:

  • Cut the Coke: OK, if you MUST have caffeine, try it without the added sugar. Coke and soft drinks are loaded with unhealthy amounts of sugar, you may be left wondering if you can return your other gifts for new pants.  
  • Watch the Starbucks: Or any really mixed drink – again, the caloric content of most blended or milk-based drinks is just astronomical. An Eggnog latte from Starbucks has as many calories as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and 29g of fat. Americanos with a splash of almond milk will come in under 30 calories and no sugar!
  • Join the British: I know tea isn’t coffee – but it’s a really great substitute this time of year.  Caffeine-free herbal teas from places like Numi offer delicious flavor, that warm comfort, and zero jitters.   

Enjoy your holiday! Be safe, have fun, and take some time to reflect on whatever you have to be thankful for!