December 16, 2007

Nutrition and Alcohol (Yes, I put those two words in the same title)

So, I broke my own advice and opened another tab last night. Bad, bad, bad. This bar had Woodchuck Cider, which is one of my favorites, but was on tap – so I got pint glasses (16 oz) instead of bottles (12 oz). As we all know thanks to Mindless Eating (if you haven’t read it, you MUST – I will post a review in the upcoming days that explains more), bigger serving sizes meant I drank more. A lot more. And to top it all off, this bar gave out free pizza with every drink. These were personal pizzas, but if you added it up, I ate approximately one whole cheese pizza. A WHOLE PIZZA. I think I am officially going to be gaining weight this week instead of losing or maintaining.

Anyway, on the subject of alcohol, a new controversy has arisen of which you might not be aware. Other blogs may be unoriginally discussing whether or not fast food restaurants should be put their labels on the menu. Clearly that discussion is so last week. This blog, being on the cutting edge of trendiness (and the edge of weekend alcoholism), will instead discuss nutrition labeling on alcoholic beverages.

If you are not a big drinker and an obsessive compulsive food logger/calorie counter like me, you may not realize how hard it is to find nutrition information on alcohol (nutrition/alcohol? Yes, I realize it’s a bit of an oxymoron). So I’m here to set the record straight: it is HARD. Forget finding the crazy names for whatever mixes you drank (Wild Squirrel Sex? I just looked it up as an example of something weird, but it actually sounds delicious). Unfortunately, it’s hard enough to even find the kinds of alcohol IN those drinks. Most food logging websites, including my beloved DailyPlate, have a very limited selection. Sometimes I get lazy from all the trouble this causes, and just put every fruity mixed drink down as a cranberry vodka (which is actually one of the least caloric drinks that still has flavor and isn’t on the rocks, so it’s definitely cheating when I use that as a stand-in). As for ciders or microbrews, forget it – you’ll never find the right calorie information. The best method I’ve found is to use Webtender to get ingredient information for mixed drinks, and then search each of those brands on Google to get calorie information. But that’s pretty time consuming. And it doesn’t even always work.

In Australia, a group of researchers is looking to change that. They want to make it a requirement to have nutritional information on bottles/cans/casks of alcohol (casks? I have never drank out of a cask. That sounds awesomely medieval. Cask stand anyone?). After surveying more than 7,000 students at an Australian university, 75% agreed that nutritional information on alcohol (including casks!) should be required by law.

In the US, talks about this are just starting to surface, and personally, I am all for it. I check nutrition labels like crazy, so even if I was in a drunken haze at a bar and a bottle were pressed into my hand, I’d probably notice and try to read the familiar black-and-white square. Now, this isn’t to say that I’d read it accurately or interpret it correctly (“This has lots of calories, but that’s okay because it will give me energy to go dance on that table!”). But I think just having it there would be a big help. Something to remind me, “You will NOT be ‘on plan’ for your diet if you have six of these.”

I really could have used that reminder last night.


2 thoughts on “Nutrition and Alcohol (Yes, I put those two words in the same title)”

  1. You’re right, Webtender is a good site for the calories in drinks. I’d use another site before; this is better. I like Black Russians – I guess it is something from the 1960s when I was young – but they are incredibly high in calories. Guess I’ll have to change to something with a water mixer. Thanks.

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