Foods and Alcohol

Drinking buddies up for rent: Ukraine firm offers talented companions, even psychologists.

Kiev: With the holidays approaching fast, are you in need of a drinking companion? Hire one, offers a group of entrepreneurial Ukrainians.

For just up to 150 Ukrainian hryvnias (18 dollars), an entertainment firm in eastern Ukraine will provide you with a drinking buddy with whom you can talk everything from politics to art to women or simply bemoan the condition of the world…

When you read such reports in your local newspaper, you know things are getting out of hand. With all-round festivities, losing control may seem like the best thing to do. Chocolates, alcohol and late nights along with ill-fitting clothes, long-lost friends and expensive gifts…pointless like New Year resolutions! It is a potent mix of missed opportunities, wedding season and cold weather. It can knock anyone of their orbit. Yes, holidays are meant to be enjoyed but moderation is the key to real enjoyment. A friend of mine remarked that weddings of all communities are becoming identical. Most weddings now are week-long opulent and tedious affairs, mimicking and sometimes over-shooting the media avatars that influence such extravagance.

Our music systems have to be so loud they hurt our ear-drum. Our cars have to be so big they take up the whole road. A culture of excess seems to be taking over so much so that it feels like it was always there. It screams at all you senses. Credit Card companies dangling enhanced credit limits, fast-food chains offering aerodynamic and expensive junk food, friends inviting you to an exotic weekend getaway. Well, you would have to be a really boring person to say no.

Binge: You know how it works. You know it is a binge when you’ve lost count, high-capacity claims aside. There are too many options at a party. It would be a crime to leave out anything. And look, they have your favorite brand of scotch, or on a more middle-class occasion, whiskey. It all seems alright until the next morning. After the first wave of hangover has passed, guilt kicks in. You may go on an exercising spree, may go hungry and dry for days or in general, just feel bad about yourself. But it won’t keep you from going berserk the next time. That is what a binge is, a momentary lapse of reason, suspension of belief and an indulgence in excess.

Binging is also linked to psycho-social disorders such as Bulimia, anorexia and alcohol abuse. While such psycho-social disorders would be an extreme case, such splurges can only do harm. Having a serious hangover and hazy memories is not the best way to remember a year gone by. The fact that 50 percent people are obese or 20 percent abuse alcohol is pathetic as consolation. You may find definitions of binge drinking as so many portions of alcohol in so many hours. A sure of knowing is when you have lost count! Studies suggest that the sudden spike in liver enzymes as observed during binge events is more harmful than enzyme levels seen in people who drink more regularly. Now before you start rushing to the cellar, hear me out completely. There have been many studies that suggest up to 30 percent reduced risk of adverse cardiac events on consuming small portions (not more than 2 pegs) for people over 40 years of age. But weighing the risk and benefits involved, it is best avoided.

What Can I do?

  • Chances of depression setting in are higher in winter. So we definitely would not suggest you sit at home. Go out, socialize but be in your senses. If you need to gorge, splurge on food like vegetables and pulses. Don’t make deserts your main course. Normal unprocessed fiber-rich food gives a feeling of fullness and can help you avoid consuming unhealthy food.
  • Some of the diet advice we usually give out is applicable here too. Make sure your drink at least 4-5 liters of water a day. It will help digestion and also flush out toxins. Eating a heavy breakfast is advisable not only for normal health and well being but also during holiday season. The later you eat junk food in the day, more the damage it causes.
  • Do not stress yourself too much over calorie restrictions. Chances are; imposed starvation will lead to a wilder binge when the opportunity presents itself.
  • If you take the effort to reflect, it may emerge that certain places or friends/relatives usually feature in the binge episodes you want to forget. These are triggers and are best avoided. They are the little devil screaming in your ear, asking you if you are still young and hip enough for a round. I have already identified mine so some hard decisions need to be taken in the near future.
  • There are holiday destinations famous for their high spirits. Once there, you feel compelled to drink till you are unconscious. But I can tell you from experience that these same trips can be a more wholesome experience sans the intoxication.
  • Drinking contests best suit adolescents. After the fourth drink, you are only fooling yourself. Did you know that adding water to spirits can actually enhance their aroma and flavor? As the alcohol concentration goes down, aroma molecules are released. Also, the drink stings less. But if your primary motive is getting sloshed, water won’t help you.
  • And as Oscar Wilde puts it, ‘Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.’ We hear business and ‘life gurus’ alike speaking of change. But the truth is the Sun does rise every morning with unfailing punctuality. And we need consistency more than anything in life. Sure, we get bored very easily in the internet age. But the world wouldn’t go around without clockwork.

    To beat the routine, we have Sundays and other holidays and festivals too. On these days, one can do what one does not do on other days. Just keep it mind that moderation is the key to enjoying these events and remembering them.

    Punit Pania