By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Is alcohol Paleo? Obviously not! My definition of Paleo is eating foods that are nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory, and low in toxins (independent of macronutrients). The better question to ask is, is how we can experience a nice buzz while avoiding the dreaded hangover and blood-sugar swings.
My experience with alcohol is that it tends to be the gateway drug to junk food. Most of us have found ourselves, after a few drinks, prone to reaching for some extra sweets or even gluten-rich food, like pizza. Well, if you consume alcohol correctly, your cravings for sweets will be much more manageable.
With the holidays coming up, we will find ourselves at more parties and gatherings where alcohol is served. This goes without saying: you don’t have to consume alcohol to have fun, but many people will be put in social situations where a drink or two may be par for the course.
It also goes without saying, if you are an alcoholic, please abstain from alcohol completely.
If you are in relatively good health and on point in your diet and lifestyle 80% of the time, you have about 20% wiggle room to (responsibly!) cheat and indulge. I am a fan of this rule, but I still like to choose the best cheats possible. When it comes to cheating, there is a spectrum: indulge in cheats that may have a little added sugar (ideally not from high fructose corn syrup), healthy proteins, or healthy fats and cheats that contain nutrients (not empty calories) and are non-GMO. This will avoid throwing your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.
As you can see, it’s possible to indulge and not have to take on the deleterious side effects.
If you have an autoimmune condition or have issues with blood-sugar balance, adrenal fatigue, your gut, or thyroid imbalances, you may want to think about what percentage you cheat, and to what degree you cheat. With most of the previous conditions mentioned, blood-sugar stabilization tends to be an issue. One of the biggest stressors on the hormonal system is blood-sugar stability, so if your blood-sugar stability system is already stressed, adding refined sugar in the form of alcohol may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and prevents you from healing.
I have an autoimmune condition, so I very rarely let gluten touch my lips, but I will sometimes let myself indulge with a gluten-free pizza. Most of my cheats typically include the following:
80/20 Rule: You feel good most of time, but you take relatively good care of yourself.
90/10 Rule: You are tired more often, experiences PMS, digestive issues, low libido, brain fog, hypothyroidism, and memory issues.
100% Rule: You currently have an autoimmune condition, poor energy, poor mood, frequent diarrhea, digestive disturbances, or are overweight.
Most Alcohol Contains a Few Compounds I Consider Toxic:
What you need:
What you need:
Following a Paleo diet is not about being perfect. Yet many people that go Paleo notice remarkable improvements in how they look, feel, and perform. When some people cheat or move away from that style of eating, the side effects are bearable, and many are able to return back to their Paleo diet with no issues. Some people are more sensitive, and cheating with inflammatory foods and beverages may set them back for days—it’s essentially their kryptonite!
There’s always a risk-reward analysis that has to be done, and it’s always good to do a mental check to see if the few hours of fun and indulgence are worth the few days of pain. Again, it’s different for everyone, and it depends on where you are on your health journey. My suggestion is to figure out where you lie in that spectrum, and if you are more sensitive, try some of the suggestions that I made above.
If you don’t listen to your body’s whispers, you will have to endure its cries!