You just have to open a diet book or fitness magazine to discover that the calories in the alcoholic drinks you consume can add substantially to our daily caloric intake, and may contribute to weight gain or hinder weight loss. If you take on board the calories in your chosen alcoholic beverage you may find yourself abstaining when out with friends or counteracting the intake with your food choices, such as choosing a low-calorie meal or skipping eating altogether. Yet, how long can you keep this up? How healthy is this?
For how long can you abstain from drinking or eating to control your caloric intake? How long will it be until you give up on your diet altogether? Or consider losing weight unrealistic? Or simply feel like a failure because you can’t lose weight or control your intake?
The thing is, if you deprive yourself of something you really enjoy, you’ll obsess over it. If you feel deprived, the associated thoughts and feelings can cause you to give up on our diet or to yo yo diet.
In our moments of weakness, we can justify our choice to drink by saying ‘there are antioxidants in wine, right?’ or ‘I’ve had a tough week, I deserve a drink’. These are just stories we make up in our mind to justify the decision we have already made. There’s plenty of arguments for and against drinking alcohol and wine in particular, but at that moment, the arguments ‘for’ far out way those ‘against’.
So when it comes to alcoholic beverages, my tip is to become a conscious drinker. When you come home from work and go to pour a drink or go to order a drink when out with friends, ask yourself, ‘do I really want this, am I truly going to enjoy this or am I having it out of habit, to fit in or to escape?’
If you choose to have a drink, accept this choice, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Rather observe the colour, smell its aroma, take a sip to really taste it and observe how it feels and how it affects your body. Maybe you don’t really like the taste after all? Maybe after a few sips, you think ‘that’s all I really needed to get the feeling of having a drink’.
Draw your attention to how it feels in your body. How it affects you physically, mentally and emotionally? Maybe the sensations in the body feel good. However before you pour another, tune in and ask yourself ‘do I need another?’. ‘Am I drinking my second, third or fourth drink on autopilot’. Ask yourself – will more to drink enhance these feelings or sever any awareness of my body.
The amazing thing is when you do this, you may find yourself automatically drinking less, without imposing rules, but rather tuning in to your own body.
The other thing about relaxing the ‘diet rules’ and being truly aware and enjoying our drink, is that we can activate the pleasure or relaxation response in our body. Taking us out of the ‘fight and flight’ mode, where our blood pressure is elevated, our heart rate increased, and blood is shunted away from digestion. When we are relaxed, our digestion is improved and we can better assimilate the nutrients consumed. Yes, an alcoholic beverage will provide additional energy to your body. However, if you consume it slowly and mindfully, your body will register this energy input; thus resulting in you drinking and eating less. On the other hand, if you drink unconsciously to seek pleasure and escape the pain in your life, you may find yourself seeking pleasure in additional drinks and in some cases food.
So next time you head for a drink, ask yourself is this habit? Am I really enjoying this? How much do I need to truly enjoy it? By asking yourself these questions your body will tell you how many drinks is enough. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: Please note that this blog is intended for casual drinkers that do not have an alcohol addiction, but rather drink out of habit and wish to reduce their consumption. If you have an alcohol addiction I encourage you to seek support from an appropriate professional.