5 Simple, Healthy Holiday Treats

Don’t you just love quickies? Whoops, wrong series.

Kidding. Sort of…

I don’t know about you all, but this holiday season seems to be flying by, leaving me little time to bake up a storm in the kitchen. Rather than prepare my family’s traditional cardamom bread, which is scrumptious yet labor intensive, I’ve been relying on quick throw-it-together concoctions. The result? A healthy, happy, aromatic home and plenty of time for writing. And shopping. ‘Tis the season, right? Okay, I lied. I primarily shop online. But not for most groceries, of which you’ll need few for the following.

These recipes are far from gourmet, but they’re pretty darn tasty, if I may say so. They’re also healthier than your typical treats, making them a sweet tooth/wellness win-win, and require very little time and cleanup. *sigh* Just the sound of that last bit lifts my spirits…

Chocolate Banana Pudding

Ingredients:

12-oz package tofu
2 bananas, cut into chunks
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Splash of soy milk (or any milk)
Pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or mixer. Blend until smooth, then chill in a pie pan or prepared crust for an hour or more. Top with whipped topping and fruit, if desired. Serves about 6.

Egg Nog Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 banana
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup milk
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds or walnuts
Optional addition: 1/4 cup pureed, unsweetened pumpkin

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together. Vwa-la! Serves 2.

Cinnamon Baked Pears

2 large pears, sliced
2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp whole wheat or almond flour
4 Tbsp old-fashioned oats
Pinch of cinnamon
Slivered almonds and ice cream (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine butter or coconut oil, brown sugar, flour, oats and cinnamon in a freezer bag. Shake to combine. Add pear slices to bag, and shake until they’re coated. Arrange coated pears on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly golden. Serve plain or topped with vanilla ice cream and almonds. Serves 4.

Quick Apple Sauce (adapted from the Food Network’s recipe)

Ingredients:

3 sweet apples, peeled, cored and quartered
3 tart apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, softened or sliced
3 tablespoons agave or honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Remove the lid carefully then mash the apples with a fork or potato masher. (If you prefer, you can heat the mixture on the stove until soft, or 30 to 45 minutes.) Serve hot or chilled.

No-Bake Coconut Cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped nuts
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup almond or peanut butter
4 Tbsp honey or agave
1/4 – 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir well. Freeze for 20 minutes or so then form into balls and refrigerate. Makes about 24 small or 12 larger cookies.

For more fabulous recipes, check out the appropriately titled Yum Blog Hop, hosted by K.B. Owen. Bon appetit!

What’s your favorite holiday treat? Any super simple recipes to share below? 

Girl Boner Perks for Jollier Holidays

If you find yourself stressed, anxious or exhausted this holiday season, you may want to prioritize playtime in the bedroom…

…or anywhere you see fit.

I saw The Sessions last week, a film starring Helen Hunt and John Hawkes about a 38-year-old man with an iron lung who seeks therapy from a sex surrogate in hopes of losing his virginity. It depicts sexuality in a way American films seldom do: tantalizing, soulful, physically and emotionally mind-blowing, deeply gratifying and life-changing. It was also pretty technical, which I didn’t mind. It made me eager to relax into sexual pleasure and do away with the barriers set by society and ourselves. (Dear Santa: That magic wand I’ve mentioned? I still want it.) I left teary eyed, inspired and pondering the role sex plays in our personal lives and entertainment.

I also couldn’t help but draw parallels between sexuality and the holidays. Think of how many terms encompass what we’d ideally like from both: warmth, togetherness, love, spirituality, gratitude, excitement, giving and receiving… And yet, they don’t pair as often we might like.

The holidays are a funky time when it comes to sex. While some people spend more time between the sheets, a larger percentage have less sex. Holiday-linked stress, travel, hectic schedules and limited privacy can hinder our sexual appetites and experiences. And don’t forget lutefisk. Put that slithery fish within yards of me and sex is the last thing on my mind. *quivers* Just saying.

Research shows that women tend to experience more stress during the holidays than men, and that sex works as a powerful stress minimizer. Hmm… Am I right in concluding that adding more sexual pleasure to the holiday wish list is particularly important for us gals?Consider the following benefits and let me know if you agree.

6 Sex Benefits for Jollier Holidays

1. Reduced stress. Indeed, the very thing that keeps some of us from desiring sex can be remedied by sex. A study conducted in Scotland showed that people who’d had intercourse before engaging in stressful situations, such as doing math problems out loud and speaking in public, had lower blood pressure and responded to stress better overall compared to those who hadn’t. Satisfying sex also eases anger and may prevent us from Grinch-i-fying in the first place.

2. Improved physical fitness. Speaking of stress, those holiday pounds many fear? Routine sex can help. Thirty minutes of sex burns about 85 to 200 calories. Have sex 42 times between November and January and you’ll burn at least 3,570 calories—more than enough to lose one pound, the average amount Americans gain during the holidays. Having sex twice per week is linked with improved cardiovascular health and a lowered risk for heart attack.

“Sex is a great mode of exercise,” says Los Angeles sexologist, Patti Britton, PhD. It takes physical and mental effort to do it well, allowing us to tone our minds and bodies.

3. Improved warmth and relaxation. Gratifying sex makes holiday-like sensations stronger and more likely. Orgasm increase levels of the brain chemical oxytocin, says sex educator and relationship expert Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright, which allows for warm fuzzy feelings.

4. Improved immune function. Sexual play may keep doctor visits at bay. Sex, including masturbation, circulates blood flow to the genital region, says Megan Andelloux, a board certified sexologist in Rhode Island, keeping our tissues and veins healthy and active. The result? A reduced risk for colds and the sniffles.

5. Better sleep. Sleep problems are epidemic, particularly among women. Holiday stress and schedule shifts can worsen matters, making restful sleep a whimsical wish. Why count sheep or stare at the ceiling when there are better ways to spend your time? Sex, including masturbation, helps ease insomnia. (Feel free to dance or cheer here. I did!) A lack of sleep can also nuke libido, so having sex for improved sleep can lead to more frequent and pleasurable sex, leading to even more restful Zs. That’s my kind of snowball. 😉

6. Enhanced self-esteem and intimacy. While low self-esteem keeps some women from having sex, research shows that masturbation can have the opposite effect. Consistent, mutually pleasurable sex in couples can increase bonding, says Fulbright, because the surge in oxytocin at orgasm stimulates feelings of affection and intimacy. From a spiritual standpoint, sex can lead stronger quality of life and relationships. Pleasurable sex makes us feel better about our relationships, ourselves and life in general.

In a particularly lovely scene in The Sessions, the main character, Mark, asks his priest whether God would smile upon his having marriage-less sex. Father Brendan shoots a torn look at the cross hanging behind him then turns and says with confidence, “In my heart, I feel He’ll give you a free pass on this one. Go for it!”

Sexual pleasure is a gift we give ourselves then share with others.I hope that if you haven’t, you’ll allow yourself to GO FOR IT—safely and responsibly—this holiday season, in whatever ways you feel inclined. Whether we engage solo or with a partner, a healthy sex life allows us to share happier, healthier, more empowered versions of ourselves with others. I don’t know about you, but in this age of materialism, it makes me happy knowing that one of life’s most spectacular gifts is free.

What do you think? Should women prioritize sexual pleasure during the holidays? Does your sex life cool down in the heat of the hustle-bustle? Or are you the first to leap for the mistletoe? Stay tuned for more on sexually satisfying holidays in the coming weeks. To catch up on the first three Girl Boner Monday posts, click here.

Food Anxiety and Disordered Eating: Holiday Survival Strategies

“Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest.” — Geneen Roth

From festive tunes and decor to gift exchanges and gatherings, the holiday season fills me with child-like glee. All throughout, however, I’m cognizant of the fact that many people have near opposite views due to food angst. As someone who’s endured it and now mentors folks in its grasp, I know too well the depth of disordered eating pain. I wish I could multiply and divvy up my joy and inject it into every person suffering. Since I lack that super power, I’ll instead share some useful strategies with hopes that they might find appropriate eyes.

Even when food is the enemy and everywhere, you’re not as alone as you feel.

8 Ways to Manage Food-Related Anxiety Through the Holidays

1. Know you’re not alone. Little feels as lonely as fighting inner-food demons amidst gleeful bashes, and little fuels those demons like loneliness. One-third of holiday stress derives from overindulgence, according to Mental Health America. Add to that the fear of being judged or watched and  general food-related discomfort and it’s safe to say that you’re far from solitary. Considering how hidden many of these issues are, it’s likely that someone nearby struggles similarly. While you’d never wish your challenges on others, viewing yourself as one of many courageous folks who “get” it can help.

2. Confide in a personal cheerleader. Many of us have at least one person in our court who we can openly confide in during tough times. Share your concerns with that person before stressful events. If you fear mid-feast panic, have a code word or signal ready, along with a plan of action. When you ask your cheerleader a particular question, for example, he or she could ask you to step away to help you with something. If the person is a distance away, keep your phone at the ready for an SOS text or call.

3. Plan ahead food-wise. Keep “safe foods,” foods you’re comfortable with, well-stocked in your kitchen and workplace. Bring dishes you can eat with ease to holiday events, with plenty to share. Avoid arriving to parties and feasts on an empty, rumbling stomach. Eating a balanced snack beforehand can help reduce anxiety physically and emotionally. Balanced snacks, containing complex carbohydrates and protein, help your brain produce and utilize calming brain chemicals and staves off overeating. Have whole grain cereal with low-fat milk, for example, or yogurt topped with fruit. (Neither will make you “fat.”)

4. Get creativeI’m not talking about creative ways of food avoidance or pound shedding, which can fuel anxiety. Invest that energy into something therapeutic. Creativity helps take our minds off of stress, allows us to work through challenging emotions and provides emotional fulfillment. Sing. Write. Bake (if you’re comfortable doing so). Draw. Paint. Dance. I’ve personally found free writing, writing quickly and without judgment, near miraculous. For a useful free-writing exercise, check out Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages.

5. If you’re concerned about overeating or riddled with guilt for doing so, try to cut yourself some slack. Everyone feasts on occasion. One calorie-laden meal or day, or even several, won’t break your wellness or trigger “fatness.” Starving ourselves to make up for overeating by depriving the body of nourishment and making way for the bingeing/starving roller coaster, however, can. Even if you don’t attempt to compensate, guilt and self-loathing aren’t helpful to anyone. If you end up bingeing, forgive yourself and move on by eating, rather than skipping, your next meal.

6. Try not to view foods as “good” or “bad.” Demonizing certain foods makes them more tempting, increases stress and perpetuates negative attitudes and behaviors. All foods provide nutrients. Our bodies need carbohydrates, protein and fat to function and thrive. Many holiday foods, such as turkey, whole grain bread, potatoes, pumpkin and cranberries, are chock-full of vitamins and minerals. Emphasize healthy fare and, if you’re able and interested, allow yourself treats. Eating a modest-sized, rich dessert when you’re desiring it keeps it from turning into a craving, which can facilitate bingeing. Once you’re finished, engage in something non-food related, pronto.

7. Give yourself permission to opt out. If a particular event is too much to manage emotionally, decline. Tell the organizer you’re not feeling well and make tentative plans to catch up with friends and family another time on more comfortable grounds. People who care about you wouldn’t want you to attend a function that feels debilitating. (Would you force a friend who’s deathly afraid of flying onto an airplane?) Opting out when it “in” seems impossible isn’t selfish, but self-nurturing.

8. Focus on others. When the food monster overtakes your brain, it can feel all-consuming. While it’s understandable and not your fault, it’s a highly selfish state. What can you do to brighten another’s day? Seek the good in people and offer compliments. Ask questions about people’s lives with genuine curiosity. Hug loved ones. Send greeting cards. Volunteer. A bit of warmth will help others who may be equally anxious, and give you far more in return.

For more information on eating to quell food-related angst, check out my recent articles:

Love the Skin You’re In: Putting Order Back in Disordered Eating LIVESTRONG.com
Nourish Your Body, Nurture YourSELF: Bolstering Your Self-Esteem with a Healthy Diet LIVESTRONG.com
Food Cravings: Demystifying Intense Desires for Certain Foods LIVESTRONG.com
Foods That Increase Serotonin and Induce Sleep The Nest Magazine
The FulFillment Diet: Pursuing Passion FIRST Bartlett’s Integrated Health Journal

I’d love to hear from you. Have you or a loved one grappled with food stress over the holidays? Any pointers to add? Questions to share? If you’d prefer to share thoughts privately, feel free to write me directly. I’ll also be having a quiet Thanksgiving, so if you’re struggling and feel like chatting, find me on Facebook or Twitter.

The Freedom to Write

“If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” — Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I’m all about breaking rules when it serves a worthy purpose. As we gear up to celebrate the United States’ birthday, I’ve been thinking about the many rules that have been bent and broken so that we writers can freely pursue our passions, and how lucky we are to be writers period.

Consider the following:

  • During the 18th century, many women authors took on male pen names in order to be taken seriously. I can only imagine how many women never pursued writing at all, out of similar fears, or because the words female and author weren’t considered a harmonious pair.
  • In the age of slavery in the U.S., slaves who could read and write were esteemed members of black society, yet anyone caught teaching slaves to literary skills were subject to fines, whippings and imprisonment. Some of the bravest slaves wrote their way toward intellectual freedom, meanwhile risking—sometimes losing—their lives.
  • One in five adults worldwide are illiterate, according to the United Nations Literacy Decade. And only about 61 percent of adults in low-income countries can and and write. This isn’t right or fair or easy to wrap our heads around.

We can’t likely change the whole world quickly or on our own, but we can make the most of our freedom by pursuing our passions with gusto. If we buy into negative notions, such as “writing isn’t a real job,” we take away from the efforts of millions along the way—men, women and children who read and wrote anyway—when it wasn’t considered right, good, safe or easy. We owe it to them, our loved ones and ourselves to read and write our butts off.

Writing IS freedom. For many artists, writing is a necessary pathway toward emotional fulfillment, a sense of community and acceptance, sanity and even physical health. As we watch fireworks and gather with loved ones this holiday week, I hope you’ll also take time to celebrate the freedom we have to put words on the page. Through our thoughts and stories, we can entertain, inspire, educate and change the world.

Toward that end, I’m putting a little something for writers together, and would LOVE your contributions. To participate, send a photo of you holding a sign that reads “I AM A WRITER!” or conveys the idea in other ways. Chosen photos will be featured in a permanent collaboration on my site. Yep, that’s all the detail you’re gonna get, for now. 😉 Email the photos to me (august at augustmclaughlin dot com) by July 21st.

Wishing you a healthy, safe and joy-filled 4th of July!

How are you celebrating the 4th or other summer holidays? Do you wear your “I’m a writer” badge proudly, or do you still need a little nudging? 😉 Anything you’re particularly grateful for this summer?

Lifesaving Resolution #1: Mindful Driving

“Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a moron.” — George Carlin

A blonde is driving down the freeway when her boyfriend calls on the cell phone. When she picks up the phone he says, “Hi honey, it’s me. I just wanted to tell you to be careful. It says on the news that there’s a car driving the wrong way on the freeway.”

“No, it’s worse!” she says. “There’s not one. There’s hundreds of them!”

Looks like she contributed to the accident. The question is…how?  😉

Okay, enough funny business. For now. While there’s nothing wrong with a laugh or two, real-life driving distractions are no joke. *pausing while y’all switch gears* (Pun intended.)

A cop friend of mine first alerted me to the dangers of mindless driving—driving with little awareness—several years ago. He said, “If people knew how many accident victims are found with cell phones shoved into their heads, they wouldn’t talk and drive.” Scary visual, right?

Authorities say that driving is a privilege, not a right. Yet too many of us treat it with nonchalance—an attitude that can be more dangerous than a loaded gun. While we can’t change the attitudes or behaviors of others, it only makes sense that we adjust our own. We can lead by example and, potentially, save lives.

Before I delve into the specifics of mindful driving, consider these facts:

In 2009, over 5,400 people died in crashes involving distracted driving in the U.S. alone, according to the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with cell phone use being the most common culprit. About 448,000 more were injured. (These numbers are low-ball, however. Distractions linked with accidents, including cell phone use, often go unknown or unreported.)

Numerous studies have shown that driving while talking on your cell phone—with or without a headset, and texting are as dangerous as drunk driving.

Unlike talking to a fellow passenger, cell phone use takes your mind out of the vehicle. So it’s no surprise that researchers at the University of South Carolina found that cell phone users are four times less able to pay attention compared to non-users.

Driving is the most dangerous activity most of us will ever engage in. But that doesn’t mean we should drive in a state of panic. Driving around fear-filled will only worsen matters. Driving with heightened mindfulness, on the other hand… NOW we’re talking.

Mindfulness, according to Psychology Today, is a state of “active, open attention on the present.” To drive mindfully, you apply similar principles on the road. Rather than drive with complacency, which is the norm, you drive with awareness of and respect for yourself, your vehicle and your surroundings—including other drivers.

Effective Steps Toward Mindful Driving:

  • Before driving, remind yourself of your intention: to drive with awareness. This alone will help cultivate mindful thoughts and behaviors.
  • Know where you’re going. This is a tough one for me, seeing as I’ve been known to get lost in people’s homes and, once, a bathroom. Navigation systems are great, but use them as backup. Get the gist of your directions down before leaving. If you get lost, pull over to gather your bearings.
  • Place a ‘mindfulness reminder’ in your car. An inspiring quotation, meaningful charm and photographs of loved ones provide valuable options—anything that reminds you that life is precious and distracted driving, dangerous.
  • Make your car a NO PHONE ZONE. Keep your phone out of arms’ reach, preferably on silent mode or turned off, at all times while driving.
  • Aim not only to follow traffic laws, but to observe other drivers. (Driving “right” does not ensure your safety.) Keep a distance from drivers driving badly. Report risky drivers to the police—after pulling over, of course. 😉
  • Stop the road rage. If someone is driving too slow, slow down or move over rather than ride their tail. If someone’s encroaching behind you, don’t slow down just to peeve them. Move over and get over it.
  • Breathe. If you feel yourself tensing up, due to poor driving, running late or other stressors, take slow, measured breaths.
  • Drive with little or no music. The thought of driving in silence would’ve creeped me out a few years ago. Now I love it. If you do listen to music or talk, keep the volume at a reasonable level.
  • Turn sounds off and roll your windows down before driving and parking. This brings awareness to sounds of animals, small children and other beings/things in your wheels’ way.
  • Sleep enough. I’ll cover this more in the Healthy Sleep post. For now, know this: sleep deficiencies also bring risks similar to drunkenness. If you aren’t in the proper state to drive, don’t. Take a nap. Call a cab. Develop a healthier overall sleep routine.
  • Don’t over-caffeinate. While moderate caffeine, or the amount found in 2 – 3 cups of coffee, is harmless to most adults, excessive amounts can cause or worsen anxiety, irritability, shakiness and accident risks.
  • Don’t drink and drive (duh). About 1/3 of driving fatalities involve alcohol.
  • Drive when you drive, and cut out other clutter. Although phones top the list of risky driving distractions, other common culprits include applying makeup, shaving, smoking, eating, drinking, toying around with navigation systems, music players or other objects.
  • Meditate. Just not while you’re driving.Practicing mindfulness in any area of your life promotes mindfulness in other areas, which boosts your physical and emotional health. You’ll sleep better, think better, feel better and live better.

Sound like a lot to take on? Choose a few baby steps, starting with awareness of the distractions you’re grappling with now and the intention of positive change.

What do you say? Anything you zen drivers out there wish to add? Are you a non-zen driver, willing to admit your faux pax? State your goal and state it loud. I’d LOVE to hear from you and cheer you on.

New Year’s Eve Prep: Sidestep the Psychopath

Next week, I’ll officially kick off the Lifesaving Resolutions series with a hugely important topic: mindful driving. But I couldn’t let this holiday weekend pass by without addressing the psychopath in many celebratory rooms. Yes, that’s what I said, psychopath. Natalie Hartford was the first to use the term in this particular way… Lucky of us, she gave me the go-ahead to share her story.

From the moment I spotted Natalie’s blog, lush with hilarity and girlish yet sexy cuteness, I LOVED it. Let me in! I cried. And she did. I soon learned that this welcoming woman and her kin have endured more heartache than anyone should have to…because of the psychopath. Since then, Natalie’s made it her mission to prevent similar pain in others.

Impaired Driving – Our Story

By Natalie Hartford

A brutal before and after

On August 1, 2009, my mother-in-law (the beautiful Donna Kennie who I lovingly called Mamma K) was gunned down. I say gunned down because it feels like she was brutally murdered by a gun-wielding psychopath. Instead, it was a seemingly harmless driver who had one too many drinks and smoked some weed. Someone who likely thought he was “fine” to drive but clearly wasn’t when he cut sharply into the other lane.

It was a gorgeous sunny day. 2:30 in the afternoon.

A witness driving behind Mamma K testified in court that when the 1-ton truck slammed into Mamma K’s 2-door sunfire nearly head on, the force of the collision propelled the truck literally 10 feet in the air as it flipped over and landed on its hood sliding into the gravel. The impact tore the driver side door off her car. It was found imbedded in the truck’s front grill.

My Mamma K was nearly ripped in two and died almost instantly. She lived long enough to turn to her right as she took her final breath and see that her 16-year-old grandson (my step-son) was alive. He watched her mutilated body fade away to the afterlife before his very eyes. Now he lives with recurring nightmares and sleepless nights.

Trent Mallet was charged with impaired driving causing death.

And he did her family the honor (being sarcastic here) of pleading not-guilty to impaired driving causing death. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the Canadian justice system and Trent’s right to plead not guilty to try and get away with it. But that choice meant that my family was dragged through 18 months and over a dozen court dates before finally seeing this guy found guilty and sentenced for his crime (3 whole years…here’s another kick in the gut, he’ll be eligible for parole after serving 1 year…yip…he could serve 1 year for murder!).

The entire court process was like having a Band-Aid slowly torn off with salt pouring directly on an open, festering wound over and over again. We were unable to get closure, heal, or move forward having the hurt and anger stirred up every few months for nearly two years.

And then there was the added emotional roller coaster of not knowing from court date to court date what was going to happen next; were we going to win, was the criminal blood in or out (deemed inadmissible by the way), medical evidence admissible (it was), was he going to get off on a technicality (thankfully by sheer luck, he did not)? I can’t even begin to put into words the emotional torture this was to my family; the not knowing if he’d ever be held accountable for his choices and actions…for her murder.

And it doesn’t end. It doesn’t stop with a final round of court dates, sentencing, his eventual release etc. It lasts forever. It will reverberate through our lives forever. It will always be there. It will always haunt us.

Drunk drivers don’t discriminate against time of day. They don’t care where they are, if the road conditions are ideal, or if anyone will get hurt. Nothing matters to them because you see…they tell themselves they are ok to drive….they think their harmless…

I think they are gun wielding psychopaths!

The devastation that impaired driving inflicts on families is undeniable and unspeakable. Worse than that, it is senseless and 100% preventable. Mamma K never had to die!

Why ever take the chance? Why drive even after a drink or two; even if you feel fine? Why take the risk? What if you inadvertently murder some innocent person(s)…just to save a few bucks on a cab? It’s not worth it! It doesn’t make sense.

******

Natalie’s right. It doesn’t. Most of know the risks, yet drunk driving continues to kill approximately one person every 30 minutes. Many drunk drivers start with good intentions—prior to their drunken-gun-weilding psychopathology. They don’t believe they’ll hurt anyone (only happens to “other” people) and get behind the wheel out of confidence they won’t get caught. But they should get caught. New Year’s Eve is among the most common days of the year for alcohol-related accidents and fatalities.

To sidestep this psychopath, consider the following: 

  • Commit to not drinking and driving before you start drinking. (Now would be a prime time. ;)) Choose a reasonable amount of alcohol or none at all.
  • Share your commitment with others for added accountability.
  • Remember that not normally drinking, genetics and being female or petite increase alcohol sensitivity. (I won’t drive after one glass of champagne…)
  • Eat before you start drinking. A full stomach helps slow the rate of absorption.
  • Drink slowly to give your body time to handle the alcohol. Then allow time before any additional drinks.
  • Avoid caffeinated alcoholic beverages like the plague. Studies show that they don’t minimize drunken/grogginess, but make partakers feel less drunk, increasing the risk for accidents. They also heighten other risks, such as alcohol toxicity.
  • Know what you’re drinking. Don’t accept a drink with unknown ingredients.
  • Never leave drinks unattended. (I’ve seen Rohypnol in action—not pretty.)
  • If you’re the party host, serve food and stop serving alcohol a few hours before you expect the party to end. Provide non-alcoholic drinks for non-drinkers and designated drivers.
  • Never let a tipsy guest drive home. Call a taxicab, have a sober friend drive or urge the guest to stay the night.
  • Whether you’re drunk or sober, take extra caution when driving, particularly late at night. Allow extra room between cars and stay aware of other drivers. Keep your eye out for cars that swerve, sway or speed.
  • If you notice a dangerous driver, note the license plate, pull over then report it to the police.
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Has your life been touched by drunk driving? What commitments have you made to guard against it? Any thoughts to share with Natalie? (She’s out of town at the moment, but I KNOW she’d love hearing from you. :))
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Life is precious. Live yours well.