Last time I enjoyed a guilt free bottle of beer was in college. I had a light beer in a can. That was in the US. I took advantage of drinking beers that claimed to have far fewer calories compared to other drinks. In the spirit of New Years Eve I plan to drink and have a good time. But before I go on a drinking quest I have decided to embark on a journey and learn about the good and not so good truths about alcoholic beverages. Its summer and I prefer a chilled beer to a 60ml whisky. If you are worried about your waistline and face the same dilemma as I do, read on.

As a woman, I meticulously count my calorie intake. Even though I keep a chocolate cookie jar beside my bed, I am quick to blame the drink I had last night if my weighing scale tilts to the right. I really fret about calories while dining out and my usual drink is a glass of red wine. Did you know that a glass of red wine, beer and most of the soft drinks have the same range of calories? I did not. I am not a fool; I know the reason behind my increasing waist line is not just the calories in the drink, but also the fats and the carbohydrate. Think twice before you order those fancy cocktails because a 300ml long island ice tea contains 543 calories more than a Big Mac worth 540 calories (imagine downing 3 Big Mac burgers?). One of my past favorite, Margarita, contains 550 calories and a 265ml Mai Tai has 620 calories (www.calwineries.com). All indeed fancy!

It is no longer about the calories now. The more I enlightened myself regarding my usual choice of alcoholic beverages i.e. wine and beer; I realized I was indeed making a good choice. The most important decision is I always drink in moderation. Jude Buglewicz, author of ‘Wine or Beer: Which Is Better for You’ writes that people who order wine do order healthier foods compared to people ordering beer, And here I am ordering the right drink but pairing it with the wrong kinds of food. The truth behind the stigma associated with beer i.e. beer belly has more to do with food that goes before, along with or after than the drink itself. The increasing waist line is caused due to the accompanying snacks and food people consume. And I wondered all this time how my brother’s best friend (a fine lady) never gains an extra pound when she drinks 4 to 6 bottles of beer on a night out. It’s because she refrains from the fried and salty foods – Eureka!

The fact is beer is produced from a natural product i.e., malt and wine from grapes. Beer contains no fat and lager beer contains about 0.03g protein per 100g . Any drink consumed in moderation does reduce heart disease but beer and wine in particular claim to have more benefits. A 2000 Danish study claims that “Wine drinkers had significantly lower mortality from both coronary heart disease and cancer than did non-wine drinkers. Resveratrol found in only red wine has been shown to help slow the formation and growth of cancer, though researchers say more studies are needed to confirm this .” Drinking beer in moderation is linked to increased high-density lipo-protein (HDL) cholesterol. The carbohydrate hype in beer is now just hype because 100ml contains only 2.7g carbohydrate originating from the raw material malt. The yeast transforms the majority of carbohydrates into alcohol and carbon dioxide. A 650ml beer contains 16% of the daily magnesium requirement and a beer is also a nutrient, containing vitamins and minerals .

Although I have learned the basic facts about my choice of drink, I haven’t stopped counting my calories yet. And I do not yearn for a light beer either. Rest assured, with a good choice of drink, I will be ordering healthy snacks too. For those ladies who are fearless and have fun, watch out for the baits (the breathalyzers). Any level of alcohol consumption while driving is prohibited by law and hence, I have a designated driver as I believe this New Years Eve I gotta start with a chilled beer served in a frosted glass (of course in moderation). Cheers and Happy New Year!