Food choices move in an unhealthier direction for both men and women on days that they drink alcohol, according to a study recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study draws from an analysis of data collected in a U.S. health and lifestyle survey conducted from 2003 to 2008. The results suggest that Americans eat more calories and fat on days that they drink alcoholic beverages, Reuters Health reported.
Over 1,800 people answered the diet survey. Participants recorded what they ate and how many alcoholic drinks they had on two days of a 10-day span.
On average, on days when participants abstained from alcohol, men consumed 2,400 calories and women consumed 1,700 calories. On days they did drink, participants indicated they had an average of two or three drinks, usually wine or beer. Men consumed 400 more calories on days they drank and women consumed 300 more than average; the extra calories for women could be explained by the alcohol consumption, however for men, nearly half of the extra calories consumed were from food.
The types of food people ate on days they drank changed for the worse as well. The study revealed that men and women both ate 9 percent more fat on the days that they drank, men ate more meat and white potatoes, and men and women both drank less milk.
The new information from the study gives people the opportunity to be more aware of what they’re eating on the days they imbibe, Rosalind Breslow, the lead author of the study and a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told Reuters Health.
Breslow said there are many explanations for why eating habits among men and women are less healthy when alcohol is involved. People are more impulsive when they drink and often lack self control. Social-drinking events often involve less healthy food.
The study did not draw a connection between the alcohol-food connection and weight gain among participants, according to Breslow.