With debate raging around the Alcohol Reform Bill this week, Labour MP Sue Moroney called for nutritional labels on booze bottles, arguing young women would be less likely to hit the bottle in a big way if they have the number of calories they are pouring down their throat on a night out.
And the simple maths of booze in terms of chocolate bars and pizza can be more than just food for thought.
It's downright frightening.
For example, one RTD lemon Bacardi Breezer is the equivalent of one slice of Pizza Hut Meatlovers pizza?
Rene Schliebs, senior nutritionist at Mission Nutrition, says woman are often in the dark about just how many calories they consume through drinking.
"What they (health experts) tell us it that the most important thing is we shouldn't be having more than 14 units of alcohol a week and couple of alcohol free days a week," she said.
"The problem is, what the hell is a unit of alcohol? No one really knows or can remember."
A unit of alcohol, she says, is 100 mls of wine or 30 mls of a spirit.
"That's where us women run into problems, though, because a standard pub wine glass is 175 ml. So you drink a glass of wine, you don't really know how many units that is. But what you need to know it that it's 171 calories and it would take you 34 minutes of walking to burn off. Or, to put into food talk, a glass of wine equals a couple of chocolate macaroon biscuits."
And in a cruel twist, as soon as the first drink passes your lips your blood sugar levels drop, she says, and so you tend to eat more.
"That's the body's was of trying to keep your sugar levels up," says Mrs Schliebs.
The single-biggest calorie gremlin when it comes to alcoholic drinks is a cocktail.
One sneaky pina colada delivers 300 calories in one hit, about the same as two bars of dark chocolate.
"If you are calorie conscious then it's best to stick to a single spirit with a diet mixer," says Mrs Schliebs, who has also found many young woman deciding to "drink, not eat" their calories.
"You must, must eat before you go out. Otherwise you just end up drinking more and so you consume just as much, if not more calories, than had you eaten dinner.
"I also advise clients to make their first drink non-alcoholic and to drink plenty of water throughout the night. Avoiding rounds is a good idea, too, but if you do find yourself buying a round make yours a soft drink."
GOOD TIMES TAKE PRECEDENCE FOR MOST
Wander into any pub and it's a safe bet you won't find people more worried about counting calories than having a good time.
A Times outing to Hamilton watering holes The Helm and Speights Ale House found patrons considering drinking in terms of exercise payback.
Friends Craig Woodhouse and Tracy Brimmer said they simply did not care how many calories were in their drinks.
"I just enjoy drinking, I don't sit here worrying about calories and all of that," said Mr Woodhouse.
Even after learning her drink of choice would require nearly an hour and a half to work off, Tracy Brimmer said it simply didn't matter, and would not affect how she drinks.
Others, while aware of the calories, said it wouldn't change how they drink, just how they exercise.
"I'm not too worried. I am aware how many calories I'm drinking but it just means I would need to decide how much exercise to do the next day," said The Helm patron, Michael West.
The numbers were enough to warrant a few gasps of surprise but most recovered with a, "you only live once" attitude.
Jan Barnett, who said she would usually consume roughly three glasses of wine when she was on a night out, was concerned to hear that just one would take her half an hour to walk it off.
"I didn't think it was quite that much," she said. "I know that it's not something you should indulge in too often."
"At the end of the day, I just think life's to be had."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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