Alright, cards on the table: how many folks made a new year’s resolution to “be healthier” in 2018?
We’re willing to bet at least some of our readers made such a pledge on January 1st. To be fair, it’s not a bad goal—it’s just a bit vague. For example, when you say you want to be healthier, do you mean that you’re planning to cut fast food out of your diet entirely, or would you like for it to only become an occasional treat? Are you only talking about eating right and exercising, or are you also going to give up other health hazards (like listening to music with the volume cranked up too high, not getting enough sleep, or arguing relentlessly with strangers on social media) this year? And are you going to stop consuming alcohol during meals at restaurants, or are you going to try to make “better” beverage choices?
When you go out for Tex-Mex food, the siren-songs of margaritas, frozen sangria swirls, and beer can be pretty hard to resist—especially if your dining companions are choosing to imbibe in your presence. But is total avoidance completely necessary? Well…
Margarita on the Rocks
Let’s start out with a small caveat: because margaritas are prepared fresh to order, nailing down exact nutrition numbers is a bit tricky. Individual margaritas will vary slightly from one another, so everything in the next paragraph is based on best estimates.
Despite their pretty name and festive reputation, margaritas can mess with your diet in more ways than one. First, they’re relatively calorie-dense; a small, 10 oz glass is around 550 calories, and most of us will drink considerably more than that when we’re out to dinner with friends or family. They also tend to be high in sugar, carbohydrates, and—thanks to their iconic salted rim—sodium.
Does that mean that a healthy lifestyle can never, ever include a margarita? No, of course not. It simply means that you need to be aware of what you’re getting into before you order. Many restaurants now offer “skinny” margaritas, which tend to be less calorie-dense because they use fresh fruit juice instead of commercially prepared margarita mix or highly-sweetened liqueur. Thus, a skinny margarita may be a good choice if you’re trying to lose (or maintain a healthy) weight. If you’re concerned about sodium, you can also ask your server to nix the salt. And finally, always alternate your margaritas with glasses of water. Staying hydrated is important, after all!
Frozen Sangria Swirl
“Is red wine good for you?” Google that question, and you’ll get more than 12 million results. While red wine is an alcoholic beverage (and we all know that consuming large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time can be detrimental to one’s health), it’s also a good source of antioxidants. Regular consumption of the stuff has been associated with lower LDL cholesterol, more stable blood sugar levels, and even a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease.
A frozen sangria swirl is essentially a frozen margarita with swirls of red wine mixed in. It’s another very pretty, festive drink, and some folks tout it as a superior alternative to regular margaritas due to wine’s purported health benefits. Keep in mind, though, that the addition of antioxidants can’t negate the all of the sugar and carbs you’re getting from the frozen margarita. Also remember that a daily glass of red wine is not going to be a healthy choice for everyone, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions. Talk to your doctor before you start any kind of vino regimen!
Even the biggest fan of beer will admit that it’s not a very healthy choice; the sheer prevalence of the phrase “beer gut” makes the beverage’s association with empty calories and weight gain pretty blatant! Still, like wine, beer may hide some surprising health benefits; moderate beer consumption has been linked to a lowered risk of heart attack and Type 2 diabetes, better bone and eye health, and—not too surprisingly—higher levels of self-confidence and overall happiness.
While exact numbers will vary between brands, beer typically contains less sugar and fewer calories than margaritas. It’s slightly higher in carbohydrates than red wine, though if we’re comparing beer to sangria swirls (as opposed to plain wine), beer is probably a safe bet. Our best advice when it comes to beer? If at all possible, drink it by the bottle or can instead of by the glass or pitcher—you’ll have a much better idea of how much you’re actually consuming in one sitting.
Whether or not margaritas, sangria swirls, and/or beer can be part of a balanced, healthy diet is entirely up to you. Some folks trust themselves to only have one margarita or two beers while enjoying Happy Hour, and others would rather avoid ordering a drink entirely—lest they go overboard. At Mattito’s, we’re big fans of “everything in moderation.” It’s probably not a good idea to drink a margarita every single night, and you probably shouldn’t guzzle down a six pack of beer once a day, either. But enjoying a frozen sangria swirl every once in a while, just to add an extra kick to a night of eating Tex-Mex food? Your diet—and overall health in 2018—will probably be fine.