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Beer Bottles Are About to Get the Nutrition Label Treatment

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Cheers, everyone: The beer industry is about to see a major change.

The Beer Institute announced earlier this month a new initiative that encourages its member companies to disclose nutrition and serving information to the consumer. Translation: Nutrition labels are about to make an appearance on beer bottles. This is awesome because, as we all know, we're pretty much drinking blind when we choose a bottle, unaware of the calories, carbs, and sugar in a single drink. Nutrition labels allow us to make a more educated choice about our drinking habits.

According to Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., senior director of science at the Beer Institute, the serving facts statement will include calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol by volume on all products. It will also disclose ingredients that "will empower consumers when they make decisions regarding the beer of their choice."

Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, HeinekenUSA, Constellation Brands Beer Division, North American Breweries, and Craft Brew Alliance make up the members of the Beer Institute, which just so happen to account for 81 percent of the volume of total beer sold in the United States—a lot of liquid courage housed under this new initiative. Now, it's important to note that the new initiative is not required, but a lot of the companies are saying that they're on board to make this happen by 2020.

But what does labeling beer have to do with sipping your way slim?

A label give you a better idea of exactly what you're drinking—plus drinking bottled or canned beer is a great way to practice portion control and remind yourself what you've consumed. According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommendation for alcohol consumption is two drinks for men and one drink for women. (Obviously this applies to men and women of legal drinking age.) The government is not encouraging people to start drinking—just providing a reference for people who enjoy an adult beverage now and then.

A 12-ounce beer roughly equates to 0.8 drink equivalents, meaning it can definitely fit into the dietary guidelines (DGA) and can be included as part of a balanced diet. The issue I see is when people drink too much and then engage in "mindless munching." Now, I'm the first to admit I enjoy a nice, crisp beverage after a long day, and I know that if I enjoy one I am definitely going to want something to nosh on. That's why I recommend always having the essentials on hand to help keep the portion control theme in mind and enjoy your beer while eating, too.

Here are my top recommended snacks to enjoy with your brew:

  • Healthy nuts, such as Wonderful Pistachios 100 Calorie Packs: These heart-healthy nuts—whose fat is about 90 percent unsaturated—will help you get a little substance in your system in addition to the cold brew. You get a generous number of pistachios per pack (about 30) to keep your fingers happy, and the leftover shells are a natural reminder about portions, too.
  • Healthy dips, like Chobani Mezé Dip: This new line, made with only natural ingredients, is the perfect blend of Greek yogurt and real vegetables and herbs that you can pair with a veggie tray or whole-grain crackers. Meeting your five servings of veggies while also enjoying a beer—can't get better than that, right?
  • Loaded lean nachos: Let's be real, we all love a delicious, cheesy nacho when we're drinking. Thank goodness we can lighten it up with cottage cheese and avocado.

Remember, life is about balance—beer, good food, and friends can certainly be part of that. If you're curious about whether your favorite local brew will be labeled soon, check out the Beer Institute for a complete list of participating companies.

 

Elizabeth Shaw MS, RDN, CLT

Elizabeth is a San Diego based nutrition communications consultant who works with local and national brands to help encourage healthy living behaviors. You can find her on social media @shawsimpleswaps.
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