Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day—In Moderation
This year, our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will likely look quite different. We won’t be crowding into pubs for a corned beef dinner—more likely, it will be a home-cooked affair, or maybe takeout. Perhaps some clever folks will festoon their leprechaun decorations with facemasks, which makes sense: staying safe isn’t just a matter of luck! Even those who have found their COVID-19 vaccine at the end of the rainbow know it’s important to continue taking precautions for the good of others.
But what about that green beer? St. Patrick’s Day is one of those occasions when Americans tend to drink a bit too much. It’s right up there with New Year’s Eve, the Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo. So if you’re going to take part in the wearin’ o’ the green, don’t overdo the drinkin’ of the green (beer, that is). And on St. Paddy’s Day 2021, this warning is even more pertinent. Alcohol sales have increased by 262% since the beginning of the pandemic, giving rise to the coined word “quarantini.”
While some experts believe consuming a small amount of alcohol might offer health benefits, others disagree. But all experts agree that alcohol can be very bad for our health. Overconsumption raises the risk of liver disease, heart attack and congestive heart failure, certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and depression. It also makes it more likely that we will have an accident while driving, or suffer a serious fall injury.
If protecting your health isn’t enough motivation, consider yet another term for our times: the Quarantine 15. Many Americans have been packing on the pounds during lockdown with comfort eating, getting less exercise—and yes, drinking more. Alcoholic beverages have a lot of calories! Here are a few examples from the National Institutes of Health:
|Beer (12 oz.)||153|
|Wine (red or white; 5 oz.)||125|
|Port (2 oz.)||90|
|Spirits (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, tequila; 1.5 oz.)||98|
|Martini (2.25 oz.)||130|
|Margarita (4 oz.)||168|
|Piña colada (9 oz.)||490|
So if you still want to fit into your leprechaun costume next March 17, keep track of how much you drink, and do the math … and increase your luck by cutting back.
A Note for Older Drinkers
Even before the pandemic, studies showed that seniors today are drinking more alcohol. If you’re an older adult, remember that the overall effects of alcohol may be even greater for you. As we grow older, our bodies contain less water, so each drink results in a higher blood alcohol concentration than it did when we were younger. And remember that many of the prescription and nonprescription drugs seniors take are dangerous when taken with alcohol. This includes aspirin, sleep medications and antidepressants.
So this St. Patrick’s Day, make sure those “Irish Eyes are Smiling” over the top of a facemask, confine your “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” behavior to people in your own household … and stick to no more than two drinks if you’re a man, one if you’re a woman. Better yet, have a non-alcoholic green beer or a shamrock mocktail!