Alcohol – just the thought of sitting down and relaxing with a drink after a tough day can start the relaxation process. Drinking often leads to sitting down and putting a halt to what is keeping our lives busy and hectic. It is often done while talking with a friend, watching TV, reading a book, in celebration of something, de-stressing or just for the sake of getting drunk! We tend to think of drinking as relaxing or “fun”. And drinking can be good for you, right?
In moderation (a key word when it comes to alcohol), having a drink a few times per week may have some benefits. For example, red wine contains antioxidants and has cardiovascular benefits. I remember when this information came out years ago. I was discussing this very important finding with Dr. Wilder one day and I was very happy to learn of this study! My happiness must of have shown (I was probably smiling!) because Dr. Wilder looked at me and said, “Moderation is key Kim. The study was done on folks drinking 4 ounces of wine per day.” I could feel my happiness come to a screeching halt along with the smile on my face. 4 ounces?!?!? Like ½ of a 1 cup measuring cup!?!? Why that’s just a sip!!! What happened to the “more is better” school of thinking?!?!?
As with many things, more is not better and with alcohol more is dangerous. Dangerous to our minds, our health, and our relationships to name a few. The negative effects of alcohol have come more to light in recent years, sparking a new generation of individuals who consider themselves "sober curious." This is a term coined for people who are interested in limiting or eventually eliminating their alcohol intake, for reasons of health and wellbeing. (This term does not apply to those who may have an alcohol addiction.)
The list of health problems that go along with drinking alcohol too often and in too big a quantity (more than 1 drink per day) is long.
Frequent and Heavy Alcohol Consumption Can Cause:
Cardiovascular Disease Dementia Obesity
Diabetes Gout High Blood Pressure
Dementia Cirrhosis Pancreatitis
Calories are often quite abundant in many alcoholic drinks.
Calories in Alcohol:
Red Wine – 4 oz – 100 calories
White Wine – 4 oz – 100 calories
Champagne – 4 oz – 100 calories
Spirits (gin, whiskey, tequila, etc) – 1 ½ oz – 97 calories
Margarita – 4 oz (there’s that ½ cup again. . . . . .) 420 calories
Daquiri – 4 oz – 395 calories
Long Island Iced Tea – 4 oz – 318 calories
So when you skip dessert, you’re not really skipping dessert. A small hot fudge sundae contains 285 calories. If you’re drinking 2-3 glasses of wine (keep it to 4 oz each, please), you’re not really skipping the pure sugar calories. Have a margarita and you’re having 1 ½ hot fudge sundaes and – well you get the idea.
So why do we drink too much sometimes? Over the years as a weight loss counselor/Nutritionist I’ve heard a plethora of reasons – justifications really – of why alcohol has a starring role, such as:
I’ve had a tough day – Some days are tough! But alcohol doesn’t make them better! It only dulls the feeling of a tough day. Try going for a walk (take your kids!); meditate (for like 5-10 minutes – you CAN do it!)
I don’t have to work tomorrow – why ruin it with a hangover? Need I say more?
I’m out with my friends and they made me – To keep your wits about you drink one 8-10 oz glass of water between each alcoholic beverage.
I’m more fun when I drink – If you find social situations difficult, try to have a night out that offers more than alcohol as the entertainment. Movies, concerts, museums all offer more to do than drink. Or be the designated driver.
To help me get to sleep – alcohol is actually a sleep disruptor. If you drink before bed, you will most likely wake up several times during the night.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not see a problem with enjoying an alcoholic drink a few times per week, while exploring sober curiosity, and being mindful of your consumption. There are even some benefits to consuming small amounts of alcohol. Just be careful if you do have a few drinks that you do not do or say anything that may make you wake up the next day asking yourself “What did I say/do last night?” And make sure that if you have “whooped it up” you do have a designated driver and take care of your body and mind the next day.