When I competed, I seldom drank alcohol. I would have a few big nights out in September once the season finished and that would generally be it for me.
Since I’ve retired from professional sport, I’ve relaxed my approach to alcohol, and like enjoy a nice glass of wine on a more regular basis.
I see many people working really hard Monday to Friday, eating well and working out only to go hard on the weekends on the drinks front. But are we undoing all our hard work with these weekend blow outs?
It’s been shown that in Ireland, we underestimate how much we drink by about 60%.
What the majority of us consider one drink can actually be a lot more and I would guess that the majority of the glasses of wine we pour ourselves at home are probably more than a single serve of 100ml. I’ve definitely been guilty of this.
There are many short and long term negative effects of alcohol consumption on our health.
If health reasons don’t resonate with you think of all the money you could save by reducing your alcohol intake.
The average Irish person spends between €1300-2000 a year on alcohol.
If calories are something you are mindful of or weight loss is part of your health and fitness goals then remember that alcohol contains 7kcal/gram as opposed to 4kcal/gram for protein and carbohydrates and 9kcal/gram for fat.
Unlike these macro nutrients, alcohol has no nutritional or health benefits, especially when consumed in excess.
There are simple ways to improve your relationship with alcohol:
• Keep a diary to see how much you consume on a weekly basis. Be honest with yourself.
• Avoid drinking if you are feeling angry, sad, upset or confused as it is more likely to make you feel worse.
• When drinking at home use a small glass for beer/wine or buy a spirit measure so you can keep track of what you are consuming.
• When you head out choose smaller servings where possible. Ordering half pints, single measures or small glasses of wine is a great place to start reducing your intake.
• Drinking after a match or race is not smart if you haven’t consumed enough water to replace the fluids you lost or if you haven’t re-fuelled with a meal.
• Don’t drink alcohol if you are thirsty. Avoid salty snacks such as nuts or crisps as they will make you thirstier.
• Make sure you rehydrate before you go to bed. Drinking water throughout the evening is also a good option.
Whether you are simply trying to be as healthy as possible or you are an Olympian, if you care about keeping fit it’s important to understand the effects alcohol can have on your training.
Not having a balanced approach to alcohol could be what gets in the way of you reaping the rewards from all the work you’ve put in.
Drinking too much will cancel out the health gains of the exercise your body would have benefited from. Be mindful when pouring out your glass of vino or whatever tipple takes your fancy.
@bordbia is a good account to follow on social media. They give you a great insight into beautiful, quality Irish food. I take a look at their accounts most days.
Photos: Miki Barlok
The day we recipe-tested this in the Fit Foodie kitchen, the sun was shining and at lunchtime we filled up a big kilner drinks dispenser and everyone sat down and enjoyed it.
It is the perfect solution for summer parties, picnics and BBQs. It’s fruity, tangy, refreshing and it’s alcohol-free!
The fact that it is pink and looks amazing is an added bonus!
- 3 large watermelons
- 3 lemons
- 2tbsp agave syrup
- Large bunch of fresh mint, roughly chopped
- Bag of frozen ice cubes
Cut the watermelons in half and scoop out the flesh with a dessert spoon.
Put into a container and put in freezer for 1.5 hrs. Remove the watermelon from the freezer and liquidize in a blender/food processor
Add the lemon juice and the agave syrup and stir. Strain through a sieve to remove pips.
Place the ice cubes into a large jug/punch bowl and add the mint.
Pour the watermelon mixture over the mint and serve.
Ideally serve whilst sitting in the lovely Irish sun!
Root vegetables are just so delicious; I love the way they turn really sweet and caramelized in the oven. I often roast up big batches of them and use them in salads or as a side throughout the week.
They are so colourful and full of nutrients too.
These burgers are easy, filling and great if you fancy a change from your beef burger. The addition of the chickpeas ups the protein and fibre content too.
You can make them ahead and freeze them for whenever you need a healthy meal in a hurry and any leftovers are ideal popped into a container with some sides for lunch the next day.
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 onions, finely diced
- 1 sweet potato, cut into small pieces
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
- 1 beetroot (cooked), chopped into small pieces
- 2tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- Salt & pepper to season
- 4 tbsp sesame seeds
- 6-8 slices edam cheese
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add all the vegetables to the pan and cook on a medium heat until soft, this will take about 10-12 minutes.
Remove the mixture from the pan and allow the vegetables to cool. Blend the chickpeas and spices in a food processor until smooth.
Mix the vegetables and chickpeas together in a large bowl, combining thoroughly.
Divide the mixture up into equal sized portions.
Scatter the sesame seeds on a baking tray.
Roll each portion in the sesame seeds and flatten gently with the palm of your hand, making them into burger patties.
Place a slice of edam cheese on each patty.
Put into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Serve with a leafy green salad.